World Resource Institute

Cross-Cutting Expertise

Cross-Cutting Expertise

WRI’s Centers of Excellence for business, economics, finance and governance play a critical role in delivering on our global challenges.

The centers ensure that cutting-edge expertise is deployed across WRI’s portfolio, providing technical advice to programs and international offices, coordinating communities of practice, and providing quality assurance. They also lead cross- cutting, agenda-setting research that bolsters efforts across global challenges.

“The problems we seek to address are complex and interconnected, requiring the highest quality of expertise across a range of disciplines. This is where our Centers of Excellence come in.”
—Janet Ranganathan, Vice President for Science and Research


Catalyzing sustainable corporate growth is central to our mission. The Business Center works to ensure that market and policy incentives unleash sustainable business at scale. Building on strengths across the Institute, we will encourage the private sector to discover and champion profitable strategies that deliver equitable wealth creation within planetary limits.

In the next five years, tools and analysis such as WRI’s Sustainable Investing Initiative will provide the investor drive for sustainable performance. Initiatives including Tomorrow's Markets and the Better Buying Lab will bring attention to the risks and opportunities in consumer markets. Our new P4G Partnership for Green Growth and the Global Goals, seeded by Denmark, will foster networks of public and private sector actors to ensure that government actions and sustainable business are mutually reinforcing.

In parallel we will work with members of WRI’s Corporate Consultative Group and other businesses to set ambitious goals, transform their business models and use their influence with governments to encourage smart policies, such as improved water management and climate action, that foster sustainable prosperity. Through alliances such as the Science Based Targets Initiative and our research on emerging circular and shared economic approaches, we will help businesses discover paths to prosperity that protect people and planet while offering sustained high growth and clear market advantage.

“The WRI team is uniquely helpful when we face big strategic decisions. They have a global, integrated view on sustainability's many facets and they understand how businesses operate. They also help us find opportunities to positively impact our industry.”
—Marty Muenzmaier, Senior Director, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Business Services, Cargill


Sustainable development offers abundant opportunities, from the plunging cost of renewable energy to the livelihood benefits of landscape restoration to the $17 trillion GDP windfall that cities will generate by 2050 if they develop in a compact, connected and coordinated way. Working with WRI’s programs, centers and international offices, and through the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate and its flagship New Climate Economy reports, the Economics Center conducts economic analyses that help decision makers recognize and realize the many benefits of a greener growth path.

In the next five years, we will strengthen our assessment of socioeconomic benefits and costs of a clean, low-carbon economy transition, including in terms of jobs and the health benefits of reduced pollution. We will deliver research on how a “better growth, better climate” approach can be applied in selected countries and in key sectors such as cities and land use. The Global Commission on Economy and Climate and its partners will be equipped with the evidence and communications tools to engage decision makers and catalyze action.

Working with the Forests team, we will establish WRI as a leader in the economics and financing of landscape restoration to help countries deliver on ambitious restoration commitments. Other areas of focus include the benefits of investing in natural infrastructure, the challenges and opportunities around water pricing, and how to build support for carbon pricing.

“We know that economic growth does not need to come at the cost of our natural resources. Let’s embrace new thinking that will move us toward the better, fairer world that we all want.”
—Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,Former Minister of Finance for Nigeria; Co-chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate


Our Finance Center works to ensure that WRI delivery platforms unleash sustainable finance at scale. Building on strengths in climate finance and sustainable investing, we will encourage public financial institutions to increase the quantity and quality of sustainable finance, work with public and private investors to boost resilience and adaptation finance, and encourage the U.S. and China to join Europe as sustainable finance champions.

In support of the new NDC Partnership, we will identify country-level bottlenecks to accessing finance to deliver on Paris Agreement commitments. We will create knowledge products to help overcome these, such as a toolkit for preparing bankable projects. We will work with national climate funds and development banks to build their capacity to access climate finance and use it effectively.

We seek a substantial shift in capital from unsustainable to sustainable investments by using WRI’s delivery platforms to help asset owners and managers better understand, quantify and manage environmental risks. Our work is informed by our recent experience applying environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria to WRI’s own endowment.

“WRI walks the talk by shifting its endowment to align it with its mission. This is not an easy journey, and WRI is helping other asset managers by sharing its unique insights and data to inform sustainable investment decisions.”
—Daniel Weiss, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Angeleno Group; Board Member, WRI


Government leaders increasingly recognize that empowered citizens and accountable institutions—the fundamentals of good governance—are crucial to social and environmental progress. In recent years more than 100 countries have enacted new freedom of information laws, and 75 have made commitments to transparency and public participation through the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Nonetheless, serious violations of free speech, assembly and association continue, sometimes in the same countries that are striving for good governance.

WRI’s Governance Center works to tip these complex situations in the direction of progress. The Center’s experts help ensure that WRI’s work incorporates the principles of good governance and takes into account the rights of poor, vulnerable and marginalized people, with particular attention to gender, social inclusion and equity. We conduct analysis in collaboration with civil society partners, developing tools that strengthen laws and their implementation.

In the next five years, we will focus on climate resilience, energy access, social accountability and the governance of natural resources. Cross-cutting priorities include embedding transparency, participation and accountability into environmental decision making; supporting countries in implementing resource-related OGP commitments; and strengthening LandMark, a WRI data platform that maps indigenous and community lands to strengthen tenure security in Africa, Brazil and Indonesia. We will also coordinate efforts across WRI to build knowledge, staff capacity and partnerships to support socially inclusive and equitable approaches to reducing poverty and tackling environmental challenges.

“Poverty, inequality and the unsustainable use of resources are tightly intertwined. Good governance lies at the heart of solving all three challenges.”
—Manish Bapna Executive Vice President and Managing Director, WRI