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Commentaries

WRI Commentaries offer long-form views and insights by senior WRI staff on important issues at the nexus of environment, development and human well-being. Commentaries draw on WRI research and other peer-reviewed publications to argue for a specific point of view, supporting it with evidence, to encourage informed discussion and debate. The views are those of the authors.

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Despite the uptick in renewable energy usage, global emissions have steadily increased. Senior Fellow John Woolard argues that commitments to 100% renewables, while critical for sending market signals to increase investment, will not alone achieve the system change needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. It's time for companies and countries to commit to 100% zero-carbon energy.

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Investors increasingly view global sustainability challenges as material to long-term financial performance, as the visible impacts of climate change—extreme heat, droughts, floods and sea level rise—become ever clearer. But do they have enough information to manage the risks and capitalize on the opportunities of a world in transition?

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For two years, World Resources Institute’s Better Buying Lab has taken an in-depth look at what works and what doesn’t when it comes to describing plant-rich foods in a way that appeals to broad swaths of the United States and British populations. Our early findings identify four kinds of language to avoid and three to embrace to help restaurants and the food industry boost sales of plant-rich menu items.

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There is a strong and compelling environment and development case to be made for securing indigenous and community lands. Securing collective land rights offers a low-cost, high-reward investment for developing country governments and their partners to meet national development objectives and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Securing community lands is also a cost-effective climate mitigation measure for countries when compared to other carbon capture and storage approaches.

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Sustainable investing is the new black: essential, ubiquitous and a subject of forward-looking discussion. But this is no passing fashion. What was once a niche investment approach is becoming mainstream, and WRI is learning the nitty-gritty of it through its own endowment journey.

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The world will need an estimated $140 billion per year — or more — to help adapt to the damaging impacts of climate change. But funders have gotten caught up in drawing bright lines between adaptation and development programs. To get the most out of scarce adaptation dollars, the world needs to move past this false distinction.

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Water stress and drought are as old as civilization, and while human beings have devised many ways to guard against these threats, economies have evolved in ways that make us more vulnerable.

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2015 was a watershed year. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted at a special summit of the UN General Assembly, and the new international climate agreement concluded in Paris in December, provide for the first time in history a set of strong frameworks for accelerated action by all to meet shared and ambitious climate protection and sustainable development goals.

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