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Sustainability at WRI

The World Resources Institute’s Sustainability Initiative seeks to align the Institute’s operations with its mission. Using research and expertise from staff to guide us, we are committed to improving and sustaining WRI's environmental performance.

At WRI, we work hard to put ideas into action. Our work leads to many positive outcomes but like most human activity, it does not come without some environmental cost. Each day, the electricity we use, the business travel we take to meet with partners and all the decisions made on how to run WRI have an impact on society and the environment. To minimize these negative impacts, WRI strives to “walk the talk,” integrating sustainability principles into our own operations.

COUNT IT: We quantify WRI’s emissions and resource consumption across our value-chain because you cannot manage what you do not measure.

CHANGE IT: We adjust our own operational approaches to reduce our impacts and engage along WRI’s value chain.

SCALE IT: The solutions we find and setbacks we experience are, in many ways, parallel to the experiences of countries, companies and other partners we work with every day. Sharing knowledge and lessons learned between all of us improves all of our overall performance.

To further facilitate the integration of sustainability, WRI’s leadership created the Sustainability Initiative. The team acts as a bridge between WRI’s administrative and programmatic staff to apply research and best practices.

WRI taxes itself for every metric ton of Carbon Dioxide equivalent (mt CO2e) emitted from air travel, electricity consumption, and employee commuting associated with the Institute. The funds collected from this internal tax directly support WRI’s Sustainability Initiative. This price on carbon, $50 per mt CO2e, represents one of the estimates for the social cost of carbon and places a monetary value on the emissions we at WRI are responsible for.

Sustainability at WRI goes way back

WRI follows a long-standing commitment to learn and lead by doing.

  • 1999: WRI was the first NGO to complete a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory.
  • 2000–2009: WRI set and achieved net zero target through the purchase of offsets. WRI’s partnership with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol furthered guidance for other office-based organizations to measure and manage their own inventories.
  • 2010: WRI’s Sustainability Initiative was launched! Purchasing offsets was not stopping our GHG emission growth, nor did we focus on sustainability-related issues beyond carbon emissions. Our solution was the creation of the Sustainability Initiative, funded by our internal tax on carbon in lieu of purchasing offsets.
  • 2011: WRI sets 2020 absolute GHG targets.

Read about WRI’s current sustainability efforts on the pages listed to the left. Contact WRI’s Sustainability Initiative team at to learn more.

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