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Walking the Talk: WRI joins the CDP Supply Chain Program

The World Resources Institute hopes to engage with its suppliers around mitigating climate change by joining the CDP Supply Chain Program.

The phrase “You can’t manage what you can’t measure” is one the World Resources Institute (WRI) firmly believes.

Not surprising, considering our 15-year track record of creating and supporting the Greenhouse Gas Protocol's well-known emissions-accounting standard. This year, WRI is going a step further in “walking the talk” by joining CDP’s Supply Chain Program.

Along with 72 corporations, a national government and one industry group in the program, we are connecting with our suppliers to request information about their GHG emissions management and water stewardship with CDP.

We’re doing this because, by understanding what actually happens up and down our supply chain — from the manufacturers of the computers we use to our healthcare providers — we are able to make informed decisions to reduce our environmental impact.

While individual action can be limited, acting together creates a much larger impact. CDP provides the opportunity to collectively address global environmental challenges through company purchasing.

As Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, stated (PDF):

“The CDP supply chain program has, year in and year out, demonstrated the environmental and financial advantages of cooperation along supply chains. By encouraging their suppliers to manage and disclose climate issues, multinational companies have helped them reduce risk and spot opportunities. By exerting pressure on their suppliers, they have used their influence to improve the sustainability performance of entire supply chains. In turn, suppliers have come to realize that improved performance can confer competitive advantage — not only making them more efficient, but also more attractive to sustainability inclined customers.”

Why do companies join?

For WRI, joining CDP was a natural next step in our own efforts to track and reduce the Institute’s GHG emissions. Initially, we tried reaching out to our suppliers ourselves but had limited responses — likely due to survey fatigue (see our 2012 Sustainability Report).

Participation in the program will allow us to better realize the impacts of our purchasing decisions by collecting data and increasing our opportunity for responses by teaming up with the other members. Through our participation, we are also communicating to our suppliers that this is something that we value as customers.

In their own words, other members of the program share their reasons for joining:

To collect data (Kellogg Company)   

“Kellogg Company has been responding to CDP for nearly 10 years. Our relationship with CDP allows us to identify risks and opportunities, track our progress, and share our commitments. In 2014 we launched our 2020 Global Sustainability Commitments (PDF) and our Climate Policy (PDF), recognizing the need for science-based targets consistent with a 2 degrees Celsius warming climate. By engaging our suppliers in CDP Supply Chain, we will be able to build our emissions baseline and is part of our call to action to reduce our impact. We have so much work to do, but we are excited to be on this journey.” — Diane Holdorf, chief sustainability officer, Kellogg Company

To support supplier improvements (Juniper Networks) 

“Juniper Networks is a founding and Lead Level member of the CDP Supply Chain Program. Juniper’s participation in the program highlights our commitment to sustainability and reducing our impact on the environment through effective emissions management and water stewardship. We require our suppliers to measure, manage and ultimately reduce their carbon emissions and water displacement, as outlined in the Juniper Supplier Code of Conduct (PDF), in order to manage climate risks and reduce our ecological footprint. Over our years of engagement with CDP’s Supply Chain Program, our suppliers’ responses have become more comprehensive and have enabled Juniper to build more complete risk and supply chain performance profiles, as well as reduce overall environmental impacts.” — David Asplund, director, corporate environmental, health & safety, Juniper Networks, Inc.

What we all hope to accomplish

In engaging with CDP’s Supply Chain Program, all members are looking to accomplish at least one of the following:

  • Identify risks: Collect supplier-specific data in order to quantify and evaluate supply chain impacts and associated risks — such as the carbon intensity of purchases, supply disruptions due to extreme weather events or reputational impacts to material availability (such as palm oil). This information allows members to make informed decisions to improve business operations and their supplier selection.
  • Encourage improvements: Work with suppliers on environmental challenges and opportunities to drive performance improvements and/or increase the transparency and accountability for emissions reductions and mitigated water risk. By increasing the number of companies taking action to reduce environmental impacts through engagement, we further advance critical global changes needed to address these issues at a much larger scale than an individual company could achieve alone.

CDP and WRI intend to share our stories well as those of other supply chain members in the coming months as we progress through CDP’s program.

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