As co-chair of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), which brings together 74 governments and thousands of civil society organizations, WRI worked with members to advance climate action and sustainable development. National, regional and local governments have made public commitments to accelerate climate action and sustainable development through citizen engagement, open data and fiscal transparency.
Failure to provide access to information on public spending and opportunities to engage in decision-making make it nearly impossible for the public to hold governments to account for progress on national climate goals or for effective use of government revenue from resources such as timber, mining and oil. Many governments are either unwilling to reform or lack the know-how to do so, undermining progress on the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Co-chairing the Open Government Partnership with France in 2016-17, WRI helped to design an OGP declaration with collective actions on climate and natural resources that helped frame national commitments, and provided technical assistance and circulated guidance to countries to develop them. WRI’s climate, forests and governance experts brought together civil society organizations to work closely with national governments, particularly in Latin America, to shape commitments that enhance transparency, participation and accountability on climate action and natural resources. WRI and its partners worked closely with Argentina and Costa Rica in developing their climate commitments and with Colombia, Liberia and Panama on their natural resource commitments.
WRI also helped pilot a subnational program in OGP to mobilize regional and local governments to develop and implement open government commitments. WRI teams in Brazil and Mexico partnered with NGOs and officials to create these commitments.
In 2016 and 2017, 13 governments committed to improve access to climate data, engage citizens in climate policymaking and transparently track climate finance; 12 governments made open government commitments on natural resources, including on land, forests and water.
Argentina, for example, committed to provide greenhouse gas inventories and maps of climate impacts on a public website, enabling citizens to participate in developing more effective, equitable climate policies and to hold officials accountable for meeting their climate commitments. On natural resources, Liberia pledged to place land records, contracts, community and customary land tenure data, and relevant laws and policies in the public domain, helping to prevent the abuse of power for private gain.
At the subnational level, the Brazilian cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and eight governments in Mexico announced reforms to deepen access to information and increase public consultation. After a successful pilot of its subnational program, OGP now plans to double its membership from 15 to 30.
Many of the world’s leading companies recognize the need to set targets to reduce climate-warming emissions. Through an initiative developed by WRI and its partners, more than 300 companies have made a public commitment to set a science-based greenhouse gas reduction target and more than 80 of these companies have had their targets validated.
Companies are responsible for a significant share of global greenhouse gas emissions and have an important role to play in keeping global warming to the internationally-recognized target of well below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change. While corporate target-setting on greenhouse gas emissions has become standard practice in the past decade, most companies – lacking stakeholder pressure and methodological guidance – have set emissions reduction targets that only commit them to incremental change, falling short of what science requires to avoid dangerous levels of warming.
Through the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, WRI has worked on carbon accounting and target-setting for nearly 20 years. In 2015, WRI partnered with CDP, WWF and the UN Global Compact to launch the Science Based Targets initiative to mobilize companies to set more ambitious corporate emissions reduction targets that are aligned with the latest climate science. The initiative aims to make science-based target-setting standard practice by 2020 by providing tools and guidance, rooting target-setting in existing performance measurement initiatives and building momentum through a commitment campaign. WRI is helping to manage the initiative, develop target-setting methods and implementation guidance, and review science-based targets (SBTs) against criteria that represent best practice.
Since starting this initiative, WRI has also worked with companies to take SBTs beyond greenhouse gas emissions. WRI worked with Mars, for example, on a WRI working paper, “From Doing Better to Doing Enough: Anchoring Corporate Sustainability Targets in Science,” investigating science-based target-setting related to climate, land and water use. This work informed Mars’ Sustainable in a Generation plan.
As of October 2017, more than 320 companies have committed publicly to set SBTs for their operations, and more than 80 of their targets have already been submitted and approved by the initiative. These 320 companies together emit the equivalent of more than 750 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, approximately the annual greenhouse gas emissions of Canada. These companies are committing to SBTs to save money, manage risk, drive innovation, strengthen investor confidence and bolster competitive advantage. As more corporate peers, investors and advocacy groups press for SBTs, this momentum can help make science-based target-setting an expected business practice.
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