World Resource Institute

WRI Annual Report 2018-19

Bigger Problems | Better Solutions

WRI 2018-2019 Annual Report

Opportunity, Risk and the Way Forward

We live at a critical time in history, in which great opportunity and grave risk co-exist.

Remarkable economic success has led to unprecedented human progress. The world economy has tripled in size since 1990, driving down extreme poverty rates worldwide from 36 percent to less than 9 percent.

But the price for this progress has been too high. Pollution caused nine million deaths last year. Deforestation rates reached a record in 2017. Over half of all coral reefs have already been severely degraded due to pollution, acidification and climate change. Nearly half of the world’s citizens now face water shortages each year. And greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb, creating an existential threat to the global economy and our way of life.

The list goes on. And it’s poor families and communities that suffer most.

We don’t need to pay this price for progress. These problems are being caused by last century’s technologies, last century’s economics, and last century’s ideas. We now know we can prosper inclusively and respect environmental limits. But incremental improvement won’t get us there. System-wide change is required—and urgently.

Done right, such change won’t cost more or hurt the economy. Rather, it will drive new technology, better jobs, improved health, and more investment. But it does require policies and investments informed by the best evidence and analysis, designs proven on the ground, and smart political engagement and coalition building. This is what WRI was created to provide.

In the following pages we present some of our activities over the past year, and some plans for the future. To ensure focus and impact we are investing in a limited number of ambitious initiatives – we call them delivery platforms – that combine rigorous analysis and design, sustained public and private sector engagement, and the building of coalitions for real change across countries and sectors. These global platforms are tailored for the countries in which we work, ensuring the best of a combination of global knowledge, and local and national relevance.

At WRI we recognize that we can achieve nothing alone. Cooperation, partnerships, and a spirit of humility are hallmarks of our approach. We are deeply grateful to our partners and donors. Without you, none of what is described in this report would be possible. Thank you!

To readers who are new to WRI, we warmly invite you to learn about our work, share your thoughts and suggestions, and join our community of supporters and friends.

With our thanks and warm regards,
The Board and Staff of WRI


WRI’s regional hubs, international offices and the global office in Washington, DC, operate as a sisterhood, with shared values, approaches and institutional infrastructure. Regional hubs and international offices select priorities from among the Global Challenge Programs described in the following pages. We focus on the big emerging market economies because the development path they follow will shape the future of the world.

International Offices

Priorities and 2018 Highlights

Africa | With a regional hub in Ethiopia, we are working in multiple countries to restore forests and degraded lands, improve food security, incentivize climate action, map water risks, strengthen land rights and improve access to decision-making on natural resources to reduce poverty, improve governance and strengthen environmental management.

Brazil | Working to accelerate and scale the transition to a low-carbon economy by encouraging and promoting forest protection and landscape restoration, and transforming city planning.

China | To contend with high pollution levels accompanying rising prosperity, support government efforts to build an “ecological civilization” by cutting greenhouse gas emissions, improving air and water quality, and promoting sustainable urban development.

India | Focus on urban infrastructure and climate resilience to support government efforts to reduce poverty, improve livelihoods and accelerate the transition to clean energy. Air quality and landscape restoration are important emerging areas of work.

Indonesia | Fostering increased transparency and sound governance to improve forest conservation and food and energy security for a growing population with rising economic potential.

Mexico | Advancing sustainability in Mexico and across Spanish-speaking Latin America, focus is on forest conservation and restoration, promotion of clean energy and integrated urban planning.

Europe | Europe is a global leader in sustainability and home to our most supportive partners. With a regional hub in the Netherlands and an office in London, WRI Europe works with European governments, foundations, and companies to promote sustainable poverty reduction around the world.

WRI's 2018 Outcomes

We measure WRI’s success by our outcomes: significant actions taken by governments, businesses and civil society because of our activities and influence. Many are achieved in collaboration with WRI’s more than 400 partner organizations around the world. Here is a selection of outcomes for 2018. Further details can be found online.

NCE Report and “Step Up 2018” Campaign Support Paris Agreement and Rulebook
WRI experts’ work on the Paris Rulebook helped lay the foundation to implement the landmark international agreement, supported by the “Step Up 2018” campaign and the 2018 New Climate Economy report.

Latin American, Caribbean Governments Sign Escazú Agreement on Environmental Democracy
The first legally binding treaty on environmental rights in Latin America and the Caribbean was signed by 16 governments after years of coordinated effort by WRI and partners.

Major Corporations Start Measuring Food Loss and Waste
With help from the Champions 12.3 coalition and the Food Loss and Waste Protocol, over a dozen of the world’s largest food companies began measuring food loss and waste within
their operations.

Indonesia and Democratic Republic of Congo Accelerate Community Forest Management
WRI and partners developed tools for community forest management programs in Indonesia and Democratic Republic of Congo that include recognition of forest-dwellers' customary rights.

Karnataka State Government in India Commits to Improving Life for Its 61 Million People
WRI provided detailed input on sustainable, inclusive urban development for the government’s “Nava Karnataka Vision 2025,” a blueprint for sustainable growth, and worked closely with Bengaluru city on implementation.

WRI Helps Cities Design Safer, More Sustainable Streets
Cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America are using WRI design guidelines to improve public transport access and create infrastructure that encourages walking and biking, reducing emissions and making streets safer and less congested.

Forest Watcher App and GLAD Alerts Help Curb Illegal Deforestation
These two new tools, developed with partners, enable near-real-time forest monitoring in the field and have resulted in interdictions and arrests, notably in Kibale National Park in Uganda.

Building Efficiency Accelerator Guides Energy Savings in Bogota, Colombia, and Mérida, Mexico
Building on national guidance in Colombia and Mexico, these two cities tapped the expertise of WRI and partners to adapt their countries’ guidance to create local regulations to save energy in buildings.

Governments, Service Providers Support Principles for Sustainable Shared and Autonomous Vehicles
Along with eight other NGOs, WRI launched 10 principles for safe, efficient and pollution-free transportation, which 35 governments and 76 mobility service providers have supported.

Forest Resilience Bond Reduces Wildfire Risk in California
WRI and partners developed bonds to fund efforts to improve forest health in California’s Tahoe National Forest, reducing wildfire and downstream water risks.