You are here: Home News

Recent News

WEC News & Announcements

WEC and Shanghai GM Announce Results of 2009 Greening the Supply Chain Project

WASHINGTON, D.C.- June 14, 2010—The World Environment Center (WEC) and Shanghai General Motors (SGM) today announced the results of their 2009 “Greening the Supply Chain Initiative.” The 2009 project involved 125 Tier 1 suppliers that make a variety of automobile products and parts for SGM-produced automobiles in China’s domestic market.

WASHINGTON, D.C.- June 14, 2010—The World Environment Center (WEC) and Shanghai General Motors (SGM) today announced the results of their 2009 “Greening the Supply Chain Initiative.”  The 2009 project involved 125 Tier 1 suppliers that make a variety of automobile products and parts for SGM-produced automobiles in China’s domestic market.


SGM's Greening the Supplier China Initiative is the most comprehensive undertaking of its kind among all Chinese auto manufacturers. In 2005, GM China introduced the best practices of a Green Supplier Chain program with the help of GM global public policy team to SGM. It was then implemented as a small pilot program involving 8 suppliers of SGM. It has since progressed to market scale in subsequent years.  SGM is a joint venture between General Motors and the Shanghai Automotive International Corporation.

The project goal is to advance sustainable development in SGM’s national supply chain by working directly with suppliers to reduce the environmental impacts of their manufacturing processes.  Results from the 2009 project include:


  • Reduction of over one million tons of water among participating suppliers.
  • Decreases of over eighty million kW/hours of energy use.
  • Elimination of over fifty-five thousand tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Reduced raw material costs per unit of output.
  • Improved cycle time and the ability to be more responsive to customer needs.


“Shanghai General Motors has been a leader in implementing a green supply chain focus to its business operations,” concluded Dr. Terry F. Yosie, WEC’s President & CEO.  “By managing sustainable development initiatives through a business process, SGM has improved the energy and environmental performance across its supply chain, built stronger customer-supplier relationships and increased its ability to adapt to evolving governmental requirements.”  For a copy of the recent presentation on WEC-SGM 2009 project results, please connect to this link.


WEC has managed a number of greening the supply chain projects in recent years.  In addition to China, WEC’s projects were implemented in Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Romania. 


For more information on WEC’s work in this area, please contact Gwen Davidow at 


Document Actions

WEC President & CEO Terry F. Yosie to addres the B4E Global Summit held in Seoul, S. Korea

Business for Environment Global Summit (B4E) is the largest gathering of leaders from business, government, NGOs and the media and will be the first major multi-stakeholder gathering of leaders after Copenhagen. The agenda for the Summit will include in-depth discussions on the outcome of Copenhagen summit, resource and energy efficiency, green growth strategies, clean tech innovations and partnerships.

The 4th annual summit will be held in Seoul, South Korea on April 21 – 23, 2010. The conference will attract CEOs and senior executives from some of the world’s largest multinational corporations, leaders from governments, international agencies, and NGOs.

WEC President and CEO Terry F. Yosie’s remarks at the B4E Summit, “Creating Value for Business and Society Through More Sustainable Supply Chains,” can be downloaded here.

Document Actions

The Coca-Cola Company, FEMSA and the World Environment Center Launch Cleaner Production Partnership in Costa Rica

San José, Costa Rica – March 16th, 2010. The Coca-Cola Company, FEMSA and the World Environment Center (WEC) announced today the launch of an innovative partnership to expand the sustainable development commitments of Coca-Cola and FEMSA’s Costa Rican suppliers by reducing energy and water consumption, minimizing waste and raw material usage and lowering operating costs. This partnership is supported by the United States Department of State through its “Cleaner Production Private Sector Partnerships” program. Coca-Cola and FEMSA are both World Environment Center member companies.

The specific objectives of the partnership are to enhance sustainable development practices in local companies to reduce water and energy consumption, minimize waste and raw material use, and maximize operational savings. Through the WEC partnership, selected Coca-Cola and FEMSA small and medium-sized local suppliers in Costa Rica will be trained by WEC and develop action plans to improve their manufacturing operations and product distribution systems, resulting in energy, water, raw material and economic savings. This training, and the follow-up given to the participating companies, will allow Coca-Cola and FEMSA suppliers to minimize environmental effects while improving their productivity and competitiveness. The project is planned for 16 months.

“Sustainability is part of our long term plans in creating value shared by our business, our partners and the communities that we serve. By involving our suppliers in these activities, it is one more way for us to affirm our philosophy of corporate citizenship,” said Pablo Largacha, Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications for Coca-Cola.

Arturo Campos, Director of Corporate Affairs for Coca-Cola FEMSA, stated that this project reinforces the commitment that the company has to environmental issues. “One of the main pillars of Coca-Cola FEMSA is to realize benefits to Costa Ricans through sustainable production throughout its supply chain,’ he said. “This alliance will doubtlessly be well received by our providers.”

Terry F. Yosie, WEC’s President and CEO applauded both companies for their leadership in applying sustainable development across their business operations. “What happens on the ground is the truest measure of a company’s leadership and progress, and Coca-Cola and FEMSA are advancing their objectives through business initiatives that are making their supply chains more people and earth friendly.”

This initiative is led by Ernesto Samayoa, WEC’s Director of Operations for Latin America, with the direct cooperation from Coca-Cola and FEMSA.
About World Environment Center

WEC is an independent, global non-profit, non-advocacy organization that advances sustainable development through the business practices and operations of its member companies and in partnership with governments, multi-lateral organizations, non-governmental organizations, universities and other stakeholders. WEC’s mission is to promote business and societal value by advancing solutions to sustainable development-related problems. It manages projects for companies across their global operations, builds executive level learning and competency in applying sustainable development across a number of business sectors, and recognizes performance excellence through an annual awards program. WEC is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and its regional office is located in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Document Actions

WEC presenting at NBM's Series, For the Greener Good, on Green Supply Chains

March 11, 2010, 6:30 - 8:00 pm National Building Museum

How can you tell if a piece of lumber, CFL light bulb or bamboo flooring is really “green?” And does “green” mean environmentally friendly, a lower carbon footprint, or manufactured in a socially responsible manner?

A discussion with:
Gwen Davidow, Director, Corporate Programs, World Environment Center
Kirsten Richie, Director of Sustainability, Gensler
Nadav Malin, President, BuildingGreen
Ken Langer, President, Architectural Energy Corporation (moderator)

Document Actions

Marriott International and The World Environment Center Launch Cleaner Production Partnership in Central America

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, Jan. 19 - Marriott International and the World Environment Center (WEC) announced today the launch of an innovative partnership to further strengthen the environmental commitment of Marriott's Costa Rican suppliers by reducing energy and water consumption, minimizing waste and raw material usage and lowering operating costs. Marriott is the newest member of the World Environment Center. This initiative is part of a program called "Cleaner Production Private Sector Partnerships" supported by the United States Department of State.

Building on more than 20 years of energy conservation experience, Marriott is committed to protecting the environment and addressing climate change through their Spirit To Preserve™ program. The greening of Marriott's $10 billion supply chain is a key part of this effort.

Through the WEC partnership, a group of Marriott's small and medium-sized local suppliers in Costa Rica will be trained by WEC to improve their manufacturing operations and maximize efficiencies in their facilities, resulting in energy, water, raw material and economic savings. This training, and the follow-up given to the participating companies, will allow Marriott suppliers to minimize environmental effects while improving their productivity and competitiveness.

"At Marriott we are committed to working with our suppliers on a global scale, to build a sustainable supply chain of worldwide value and recognition," said Bill Hartwig, Marriott's Vice President, Supplier Relations and International Procurement, "and we work with the suppliers to incentivize them to use specific tools and training that will help us achieve that goal together."

Hartwig emphasized that through this partnership with WEC in Costa Rica, supplier best practices will be developed that can help strengthen the many communities where the company operates.

Terry F. Yosie, WEC's President and CEO, said that the partnership with Marriott will encourage sustainable economic development in the local communities where the suppliers operate. He added, "Minimizing the environmental impact, taking full advantage of the resources, and achieving sustainable clean production are our main objectives."

The program is managed by Ernesto Samayoa, WEC's Director of Operations for Latin America, with the direct cooperation from four of Costa Rica’s Marriott hotels:

Los Suenos Marriott Ocean and Golf Resort, Costa Rica Marriott, Courtyard by Marriott San Jose Escazu and Residence Inn by Marriott San Jose Escazu.

The partnership between WEC and Marriott was officially launched on January 18th at the Costa Rica Marriott.

About Marriott International
MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, INC. (NYSE:MAR) is a leading lodging company with more than 3,300 lodging properties in 68 countries and territories. Marriott International operates and franchises hotels under the Marriott, JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Residence Inn, Courtyard, TownePlace Suites, Fairfield Inn, SpringHill Suites and Bulgari brand names; develops and operates vacation ownership resorts under the Marriott Vacation Club, The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club, The Ritz-Carlton Residences and Grand Residences by Marriott brands; operates Marriott Executive Apartments; provides furnished corporate housing through its Marriott ExecuStay division; and operates conference centers. The company is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, USA and had approximately 146,000 employees at 2008 year-end. It is recognized by FORTUNE® as one of the best companies to work for, and by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as Partner of the Year since 2004. In fiscal year 2008, Marriott International reported sales from continuing operations of nearly $13 billion. For more information or reservations, please visit our web site at For an interactive online version of Marriott's 2008 Annual Report, which includes a short video message from Chairman and CEO J.W. Marriott, Jr., visit

About World Environment Center

WEC is an independent, global non-profit, non-advocacy organization that advances sustainable development through the business practices of member companies and in partnership with governments, multi-lateral organizations, non-governmental organizations, universities and other stakeholders. WEC's mission is to promote business and societal value by advancing solutions to sustainable development-related problems. WEC has 45 multinational companies that are industry leaders in Corporate Social Responsibility, including: Coca Cola, IBM, General Motors, Dow Chemical, Intel, CEMEX, Shell, F. Hoffman La-Roche, Boeing, Wal-Mart Stores, and Marriott International.

Document Actions

The Energy and Resources Institute, Yale University and World Environment Center to Present Strategies for Managing Climate Change and Water Vulnerability at Copenhagen Climate Summit

WASHINGTON D.C., Dec. 08 /CSRwire/ - The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Yale University and the World Environment Center (WEC) will host a special event on "Climate Change and Water Vulnerability: Strategies and Practices for Emerging Water Management and Governance Challenges" on December 12 from 2:30-3:45p.m. at the historic Kronborg Castle in Copenhagen.

Representatives from TERI and The Coca-Cola Company will examine critical inter-related global challenges of climate change and water supply access and vulnerability. The review of these critical issues will be accompanied by the public release of a TERI White Paper entitled "Climate Change and Water Vulnerability: Strategies and Practices for Emerging Water Management and Governance Challenges." The TERI/Yale/WEC event will be held in conjunction with a special event organized by the Copenhagen Climate Council and the United Nations Global Compact. Descriptions of each event are available online at

"The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) assessed in depth the complex linkages between climate change and water," noted Dr. R.K. Pachauri, TERI Director General and Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "Based on projects of the IPCC report it becomes clear that not very far in the future some parts of the world would have large numbers of people living under water stress, such as 75 to 250 million people in Africa alone by 2020. There is, therefore, an urgent need to assess the impacts of climate change on water and devise adaptation measures including management structures and processes by which we can deal with this challenge. The white paper prepared for this Summit provides a comprehensive assessment of this challenge, and TERI as well as the Yale Climate and Energy Institute greatly appreciate the involvement and support of Coca-Cola towards this useful exercise." "As a beverage company, we know how important water is to humans, businesses and ecosystems," said Jeff Seabright, Coca-Cola's Vice President for Environment and Water Resources. "Climate change will further stress water resources in the coming decades. This report is a wake-up call that we need to get serious about managing this precious resource as part of a climate adaptation strategy."

"Climate change is expanding the vulnerability of both people and ecosystems to disruptive impacts such as increased frequency and intensity of weather events, alteration of agricultural productivity and access to potable water supplies," noted Dr. Terry F. Yosie, WEC’s President and CEO. "Focused, collaborative action among business, government, non-governmental organizations and citizens is essential to our ability to resolve the challenges that lie ahead."

This White Paper was developed with support from The Coca-Cola Company.

This announcement is also available through CSRWire.

Document Actions

Walmart Stores to Receive 2010 World Environment Center Gold Medal for International Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development

WASHINGTON D.C., Dec. 07 /CSRwire/ - The World Environment Center's (WEC) Twenty-Sixth Annual Gold Medal for International Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development has been awarded to Walmart for its commitment to alter the way products are sourced, manufactured, delivered, sold, and disposed.

Walmart's Signature Contribution, Building a More Responsible Supply Chain, was cited by the independent international Gold Medal Jury as a bold commitment and an innovative business strategy that is integrated into its business operations and across its global supply chain.

Lee Scott, Chairman of the Executive Committee for Walmart's Board of Directors, said: "Walmart is honored to accept the prestigious Gold Medal award. We are committed to continually becoming a better company by looking at our entire business-from the products we offer to the energy we use-through the lens of sustainability and responsible sourcing. We believe that Walmart can play a powerful role in protecting our environment and our earth's natural resources while providing our customers with even greater visibility into the lifecycle of the products we sell."

"The jury is proud to select Walmart as the 26th recipient of the prestigious Gold Medal Award. With 8,000 retail units and more than 100,000 suppliers, Walmart's outstanding efforts in sustainable practices will continue to make a difference in the lives of consumers around the world," said the Gold Medal Jury Chairman Dr. Joel Abrams, Professor Emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh.

Mr. Scott will accept the Gold Medal Award on behalf of the company and its employees at the 26th Gold Medal Presentation gala on Friday, May 14, 2010 at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

The World Environment Center's Gold Medal for International Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development was established in 1985 to recognize significant industry initiatives in global environmental excellence and sustainable development.

The WEC Gold Medal Jury is independent of the WEC and its programs, and is composed of international leaders from academia, government, non-governmental organizations and retired industry professionals.

About Walmart
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT), or "Walmart," serves customers and members more than 200 million times per week at more than 7,900 retail units under 62 different banners in 15 countries. With fiscal year 2009 sales of $401 billion, Walmart employs more than 2.1 million associates worldwide. A leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity, Walmart ranked first among retailers in Fortune Magazine's 2009 Most Admired Companies survey. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting

About World Environment Center
The World Environment Center (WEC) is an independent, non-profit, non-advocacy organization whose mission is to advance sustainable development through the business practices of its member companies in partnership with government and other stakeholders. WEC's activities and operations are global in scope, and it is unique in providing direct, on-the-ground support to companies to improve their performance, and that of their business partners, across the value chain.

Recent recipients of the WEC Gold Medal Award are: The Coca-Cola Company (2009), Marks & Spencer (2008), Alcan Inc (2007), ABN AMRO Bank (2006), Starbucks (2005), Johnson Controls Inc. (2004), Ricoh Group Ltd. (2003) and CEMEX (2002).

This news item is also available through CSRwire.

Document Actions

World Environment Center Elects Six New Global Leaders To Its Board Of Directors

Washington, D.C., Dec. 03 /CSRwire/ - The World Environment Center (WEC), a global non-profit, non-advocacy organization whose mission is to assist global companies implement sustainable development in their business strategies and operations, today announced the appointment of six global leaders to its Board of Directors. The new Board Members illustrate the diverse makeup of the WEC Board including representation from a variety of non-profit and business sectors, and different geographic regions.

The new Board members are:

  • Mary K. Armstrong, Vice President, Environment, Health & Safety, Engineering, Operations & Technology-Boeing (U.S.)
  • Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business—Marks & Spencer (U.K.)
  • Allard S. Castelein, Vice President, Environment, Royal Dutch Shell-(Netherlands)
  • Neil Hawkins, Vice President for EH&S and Sustainability, The Dow Chemical Company (U.S.)
  • Ursula Mathar, Vice President for Environment and Sustainability, Bayer AG (Germany)
  • Leena Srivastava, Executive Director, The Energy and Resources Institute-India


Each of the new Board members will serve a three-year term beginning in January 2010.

"The participation of individuals of such stature and influence will extend the World Environment Center’s leadership capabilities," stated WEC Chairman Wayne S. Balta, Vice President, Corporate Environmental Affairs and Product Safety at IBM. "As the sustainability agenda advances, creative leadership for developing business solutions to global problems becomes even more important."

In addition to these appointments, the Board elected the following individuals as its 2010 Officers: Mr. Balta, Chairman, Board of Directors; Jeff Seabright, Vice President, Environment and Water Resources, The Coca-Cola Company (U.S), Vice Chairman; Dr. Peter Schnurrenberger, Head, Corporate Safety, Health & Environmental Protection, F. Hoffmann-La Roche (Switzerland), Vice Chairman; and Paul Hagen, Attorney at Law, Beveridge & Diamond (U.S.), Secretary-Treasurer.

"The appointment of this group of global leaders to the Board of Directors, together with a re-affirmation of the World Environment Center's unique value and strategy-based on capacity building, knowledge application and competency building, and honoring business excellence-continues to differentiate the organization and increase its opportunities to address critical sustainability challenges," noted WEC's President & CEO Dr. Terry F. Yosie.


Document Actions

Walmart Senior Vice President, Matt Kistler Discusses Sustainability Strategy at WEC Forum

The Washington Sustainability Forum “Conversation on Walmart’s Sustainability Strategy with Senior Vice President Matt Kistler” was held on November 18 in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Kistler spoke on a variety of topics related to Walmart’s sustainability strategy.  These included the recently announced worldwide Sustainability Index initiative and how it will help create a more transparent supply chain, drive product innovation and ultimately provide customers with information they need to assess products’ sustainability; other specific sustainability initiatives in certain Walmart operations and geographic regions; and major issues and trends that Walmart sees unfolding across the global economy.  His remarks were followed by an extended question answer session. Mr. Kistler’s presentation is available here.

Other leaders from a variety of businesses, national governments, non-governmental institutions, research institutions and the media were also in attendance. His presentation can be found here.

WEC’s Washington Sustainability Forum provides a platform to share a conversation with global leaders on important aspects of sustainable development.

Document Actions

Nobel Laureate R.K. Pachauri Discusses Key Climate Change Issues at WEC Forum

This Washington Sustainability Forum was sponsored by The Dow Chemical Company
Nobel Laureate R.K. Pachauri Discusses Key Climate Change Issues at WEC Forum

Dr. Pachauri speaking at WEC Forum

On July 21, Dr. Pachauri, the keynote speaker at the recent WEC Washington Sustainability Forum, addressed a number of interrelated topics, including the status of the global climate change negotiations and major new scientific results. His presentation is available here.

Dr. R.K. Pachauri is the co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for peace for his work in Chairing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He also serves as the Director-General of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi, India and has recently been appointed to lead the newly established Yale Climate and Energy Institute.

The Washington Sustainability Forum, a major initiative to create dialogue on sustainable development issues, was launched in 2007.  Previous Forum speakers have included:  Senator Joseph Lieberman, Zhou Wenzhong, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the United States, and Stavros Dimas, the European Union’s Environmental Commissioner.
Document Actions

WEC's Capacity Building Project Featured in Industry Magazine

The article entitled, "Opportunities and Benefits of Energy Efficient Companies" was published in the recent edition of the Camara de Industria de Guatemala magazine.

Ernesto Samayoa, WEC's Chief of Party for the Latin American region co-wrote the article with Ignacio Sanchez.

Document Actions

Creating Business Value by Implementing Sustainable Development

A World Environment Center/Singapore Environment Council Roundtable

In today’s global market economy corporations have more business opportunities and challenges than ever before.  As the private sector’s influence has grown, sustainable development has become an increasing business expectation. Companies must stimulate innovation and economic development and ensure an improved quality of life for their employees, customers and communities.  Singapore’s location as a global hub for the electronics, financial, petro-chemical, shipping and other key business sectors create a natural laboratory to examine strategies for successfully implementing sustainable development and obtaining business value from its adoption across the value chain. 

Through a unique partnership, the World Environment Center, headquartered in Washington, D.C., and the Singapore Environment Council have organized this roundtable to stimulate innovative thinking and demonstrate practical business solutions to major societal challenges.  The roundtable has four major objectives:

  • Enabling sustainable development leaders from global corporations, government and other organizations to build additional competencies and perspectives in comparing their current business practices with those of other global leaders.
  • Understanding the challenges and opportunities of designing and implementing leading edge sustainable development strategies.
  • Creating value through innovative process and product design, and building long-term partnerships.
  • Challenging the Singapore business community to aspire to greater levels of commitment to advancing sustainable development in their own business strategies and operations.

This roundtable is part of an ongoing series of collaborations between SEC and WEC to lend support to the rapidly strengthening corporate environmental movement in Singapore. WEC’s global environmental expertise is a significant contribution to business sustainability efforts in Singapore.

Said Dr. Terry F. Yosie, President and CEO of WEC, “Sustainable development is one of the greatest challenges facing contemporary society. The Roundtable will examine the strategies and practices of leading global companies and seek opportunities to apply sustainable development in Singapore to enable business, government and citizens to create an improved quality of life, now and in the future."

The roundtable is structured to provide an interactive forum of discussion among business, government and other sustainable development leaders in Singapore and across the world.  It highlights successful initiatives for implementing sustainability through strategic thinking, business process innovation, product development, supply chain management and other aspects of enterprise management.

Said Howard Shaw, Executive Director of SEC, “It is encouraging to see that businesses still maintain an interest in sustainable development despite the economic downturn. During the eventual economic resurgence and rapid business growth that will accompany it, companies will need to adopt new ways of thinking that integrate sustainability principles throughout the business value chain, to ensure their long-term success.”

Speakers at the session include:

  • Terry F. Yosie, President & CEO, World Environment Center
  • Rich Lechner, Vice President, Energy & Environment, IBM Global Technology Services
  • Vincent Lim, Managing Director (CEO), Ricoh Singapore PTE Ltd.
  • Ms.Teresa Au, Head of Corporate Sustainability Asia Pacific Region, HSBC
  • Dr. Song Bin, Head Sustainability and Technology assessment Section, Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology
  • Mr. Tiew Chew Meng, General Manager, Lighting Sector, Philips Electronics Singapore
  • Mr Lauw Kok Keen, Director of e-Supply Chain Management Council (eSCM) , Singapore
  • Mr. Howard Shaw, Executive Director SEC

 About Singapore Environment Council

Established in 1995, the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) is an independently managed, non-government organisation that strives to nurture, facilitate and co-ordinate environmental causes in Singapore. SEC’s work is founded on three pillars of action – firstly, partnership with the people, private and public sectors of Singaporean society, to nurture a culture aligned with sustainable development concepts. SEC also rewards environmental excellence through awards schemes and product endorsement programmes, such as the Singapore Green Labelling Scheme. Third, the Council, together with partners, develops and implements training and learning programmes to build competencies within companies, thus keeping our business leaders ahead of the curve.

About World Environment Center:

Founded in 1974, the World Environment Center is an independent, global non-profit, non-advocacy organization that advances sustainable development through the business practices of member companies and in partnership with governments, multi-lateral organizations, non-governmental organizations, universities and other stakeholders. WEC’s mission is to promote business and societal value by advancing solutions to sustainable development-related problems; foster leading edge ideas about economic development, environmental protection and social responsibility through roundtables and other forums that engage the leadership of a diverse number of organizations and recognize performance excellence by companies that advance sustainable development.

For more information, please visit:



For more information, please contact:

Iris Ovadiya

World Environment Center

Director of Communications and Special Projects Telephone: 1-202-312-1211

Mr. Howard Shaw

Singapore Environment Council

Executive Director Telephone: 65 6337 6062

Mr. Sylvain Richer de Forges

Singapore Environment Council

Projects Manager Telephone: 65 6337 6062

Document Actions

Perspective on the Transformation of Sustainable Development

WEC Board Member Jane Nelson and President & CEO Terry F. Yosie discuss "The Transformation of Sustainable Development"

This article is based on the report, “Changing the Global Agenda: Business and Sustainable Development from Rio to Copenhagen and Beyond,” by Jane Nelson and Terry F. Yosie, which will be available in July 2009.

The blog is available at:

Document Actions

WEC Helps Launch New Study on “Agenda for a Sustainable America”

Press Luncheon and Book Discussion

Agenda for a Sustainable America:
Recommendations for the Obama Administration

WHEN: June 9, 2009, 12:15 PM to 2PM (Speaking will begin promptly at 12:30 PM)
WHERE: Environmental Law Institute
  Main Conference Room
  2000 L St. NW, Ste 620
  Washington, DC 20036

RSVP: Attendance for this event is limited to members of the press. A complimentary lunch will be provided. To reserve, email, or call 202-939-3833.
"Sustainability" is quickly becoming a household word in the United States. Public alarm over climate change has helped to make sustainable development a major public policy issue and a topic of growing importance in the daily lives of Americans. Agenda for a Sustainable America was released by ELI Press in 2009 to critical acclaim and is now a bestseller in the field of environmental policy. It is a comprehensive assessment of U.S. progress toward sustainable development and a roadmap of necessary next steps toward achieving a sustainable America. Edited by John C. Dernbach, Distinguished Professor of Law at Widener University in Pennsylvania, Agenda is packed with facts, figures, and the well-informed opinions of 41 experts, providing an illuminating “snapshot” of sustainability in the United States today. Each of the contributors suggests where we need to go next, recommending three to five specific actions that we should take during the next five to ten years.

This luncheon will focus on recommendations for the Obama administration on three topics: 1) toxic chemicals and pesticides; 2) the public’s right to know, and 3) national governance.
These and other recommendations point the way toward greater economic and social well-being, increased security, and environmental protection and restoration for current and future generations of Americans. Together they build a convincing case for how sustainable development can improve our opportunities and our lives. For more information on the book, please visit   Advance copies of the book are available on request.
The following contributing authors will address the luncheon:

•        Gary D. Bass, founder and executive director of OMB Watch, an NGO that addresses government accountability and citizen participation;

•        Dr. Lynn Goldman, pediatrician and professor of environmental health sciences at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she specializes in environmental risks to children; and

•        Professor John C. Dernbach, who also contributed the chapter on national governance.
Commenting on the book will be Dr. Terry F. Yosie, President & CEO of the World Environment Center, a non-profit, non-advocacy organization whose mission is to advance sustainable development through the business operations of WEC member companies and in partnership with government agencies, non-governmental organizations, universities and other stakeholders.

Document Actions

WEC Roundtable on Green Buildings Featured in ClimateWire Article

The article, "ENERGY EFFICIENCY: What does the owner of a LEED-certified building get?" is accessible through WEC web site here.
Document Actions

WEC President & CEO to Speak at MIT's Sustainability Summit


The first annual, entirely student-organized MIT Sustainability Summit, titled "Discovering New Dimensions for Growth," will be held on Friday, April 24 in MIT's Walker Memorial building, as the conclusion of MIT's Earth Week celebration.

The Sustainability Summit will bring together students, business leaders, academics, sustainability activists, and public servants for a day of invited talks, panel discussions and opportunities for informal networking on the subject of how to face the opportunities and challenges of making the transition to a sustainable world.

The theme of the summit, "Discovering New Dimensions for Growth," explores emerging solutions to the problems of unsustainable development. Our current economic, political, and academic institutions, though highly interwoven, mainly work in isolation from each other. Students and practitioners of the field of sustainability are increasingly aware of the opportunities to collaborate to enhance their work on environmental, social, and economic endeavors. Our goals are to restore natural systems, create a just and equitable social infrastructure, and revitalize the world's economies - an incredible challenge that requires collaboration across many previously disparate fields.

The daylong event will feature keynote addresses by sustainability leaders, including Arthur Holcombe, President of the Tibet Poverty Alleviation Fund and former Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program in China, and Michael Shellenberger, President of The Breakthrough Institute. The panel discussions, by notable figures from industry, government and academia, will address three key topics in sustainability:
o How do we progress toward sustainability in a recession?
o How do we measure the success of our sustainability practices?
o How do we seize opportunities for innovative approaches, technological breakthroughs, and partnerships in sustainability?
The panel speakers will be challenged to think creatively about shared problems and to generate tangible solutions. (A complete list of confirmed speakers is included at the end of this release).

The Summit will also feature "capacity-building" breakout sessions that will focus on sustainability in a variety of practical contexts, from product design to transportation and food systems.

Sponsors of the event include Whole Foods, Seventh Generation, and Green Mountain Coffee. Partners include Technology Review, CSRwire, Engineers for a Sustainable World, Net Impact, World-Wire, Sustainability Television, and the MIT Alumni Association.

The MIT Sustainability Summit is open to all, but registration is required.
Please visit the website at for conference details, agenda and registration instructions. Media will receive complimentary registration.

Other MIT Earth Week events are open to the public. These include a major address by Frances Beinecke, President of the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) on April 22, and an Earth Week Fair and Eco Expo on April 23.
MIT Earth Week is planned collaboratively by six departments and groups, representing the academic, staff, and student communities at MIT. Visit for more information.

Confirmed speakers for the Sustainability Summit:
Wayne Balta, Director of Corporate Environmental Affairs, IBM
Laurie Burt, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Eric Friedman, Director of the State Sustainability Program, Massachusetts Executive Offices of Environmental Affairs
Philip Giudice, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources
Roberto Huet, Senior Vice President, Aggregate Industries
Judith Layzer, Associate Professor of Environmental Policy, MIT
Mindy Lubber, President, Ceres
Daniel Mahler, Global Coordinator for Sustainability, A.T.
Kearney Taryn Miller-Stevens, Director of Programs, StartingBloc
Ted Nordhaus, Strategist, Breakthrough Institute
Gwen Ruta, Vice President, Environmental Defense Fund
Donovan Rypkema, Principal, Place Economics
Michael Shellenberger, President, Breakthrough Institute
Sarah Slaughter, Senior Lecturer, Behavioral and Policy Sciences, MIT
Lawrence Susskind, Director of the Environmental Policy and Planning Group, Department of Urban Studies, MIT
Terry Yosie, CEO, World Environment Center

MIT Sustainability Summit: Discovering New Dimensions for Growth April 24, 9:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Walker Memorial (MIT building 50)
142 Memorial Drive

Website: for complete event listing, registration information, and details.

Document Actions Launches a Blog with WEC President & CEO Dr. Terry F. Yosie

"Adapting to Climate Change -- an Urgent Societal Priority" By Terry F. Yosie

As more definitive scientific evidence on the impacts of climate change at the global, regional and local levels continues to accumulate, a greater sense of urgency is arising across political capitals, in the business community and within civil society. Of special concern are studies which now conclude that climate impacts from greenhouse gas levels expected by 2050 will persist for about 1,000 years regardless of how well decision makers reduce future emissions.

MIT Professor Peter Senge and his colleagues have compared the atmosphere's capacity for absorbing greenhouse gas emissions to a bathtub. Like a bathtub filling up with water, there is a limit to the amount of carbon emissions that we can continue to pour into the atmosphere. While there is not an exact estimate of the amount of emissions that our atmospheric bathtub can hold, two conclusions can be stated -- we're not draining the bathtub to achieve a net reduction in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, and the effects of emissions already in the bathtub are already beginning to occur.

A growing number of scientists and business leaders have concluded that, in order to prevent our atmospheric bathtub from overflowing, there will need to be a 60 percent to 80 percent reduction in worldwide emissions in the next two to three decades, as Senge, Bryan Smith and Nina Kruschwitz wrote in their article "The Next Industrial Imperative" for Strategy + Business magazine last summer.

As scientists, economists, lawyers, diplomats and others intensify their efforts to achieve a truly global climate agreement by the end of this year, they also face a different set of realities that will reshape the outlook on Copenhagen and beyond. These realities can be expressed in three questions:

  • Will national and regional governments be able to implement new or even current climate mitigation commitments in the midst of an accelerating global economic crisis?
  • Given the increasing severity of climate change, both now and in the future, will a policy driven mitigation strategy alone prove to be too little and too late to avert the most harmful effects?
  • Is the risk of climate change to business beginning to outweigh the rewards of delaying a global agreement?

The answer to all three questions is an emphatic "yes!" Getting to yes, however, will require major alterations in our current mindset. Specifically, we need to change our thinking in three different ways:

First, a more concerted effort by leaders of government, business and NGOs has to be made to engage consumers as part of the climate solution. While consumers are increasingly aware of climate change, their understanding is episodic and has not fundamentally changed their purchasing patterns in enough market segments. When it comes to climate change and the future of the planet, consumers also have responsibilities. However, consumers need to know how they will be better off from behaving and purchasing more sustainably. To date, an effective climate conversation with consumers has not been developed. Business, government and the NGO community have a large role in better informing consumers on the choices and benefits of their decisions.

Second, we need to radically rethink the concept of innovation and the design of business models. The current economic crisis will undoubtedly stimulate such rethinking across a number of markets. Survival of many individual firms will demand it. New thinking on innovation focuses not just on products, technologies and financing but on supply chains, relationships and solutions to collective social problems. Successful business models will be those that satisfy the needs of one customer at a time and millions of customers at a time simultaneously. Ultimately, innovation must replace the industrial model of "more" with a model that expands the wealth of consumers and leads to the purchase of products and services with radically reduced resource intensities, as C.K. Prahalad and M.S. Krishnan affirm in their book, "The New Age of Innovation," and as A.G. Lafley and Ram Charan write in the "The Game-Changer."

Finally, we need to change our thinking about the importance of adapting to climate change. Until recently, adaptation was viewed with some skepticism because it was perceived by many stakeholders as a tactic to block aggressive mitigation measures. As the dire nature of current and future climate change has become more evident, two conclusions have also become increasingly clear: 1) the risks from climate change to the operations of global companies are rising, and 2) a public policy driven mitigation strategy alone can't alone solve the problem because the emissions reduction measures take too long to yield results. Adaptation initiatives offer the opportunity to take actions now even as international negotiations continue on a post-Kyoto framework.

Consider the following:

  • On the North Slope of Alaska, the number of days when ice roads can be used has declined significantly in recent years. Also, permafrost melt has begun to impact the operations and planning of current and future pipelines.
  • In other regions, companies face a growing challenge in gaining access to sufficient water resources to continue their operations and, in a growing number of locations, their need for water competes with that of local communities.
  • The frequency of hurricanes and other weather patterns is impacting the productivity of both onshore and offshore business operations and contributing to the rising cost of business through higher insurance premiums, repairs and lost productivity.

Such impacts on business create more opportunities for the private sector to mobilize climate friendly adaptation actions in a variety of ways. These include:

  • Redesigning manufacturing, storage, distribution, product development and other operations to reduce the use of energy, water, and other natural resources and raw materials. Such actions have the advantage of reducing costs, while paying for themselves in a relatively short period of time. At a time of economic crisis, lowering business costs is always a good idea.
  • Committing global supply chains to sustainability and climate friendly objectives. Companies such as Marks & Spencer and Wal-Mart in the retail sector, IBM, Intel, Philips Electronics and Ricoh in the technology sector and General Motors in the automotive industry have all undertaken major strategic initiatives to drive climate and sustainability performance improvements across their value chains. The opportunities to reduce greenhouse gases and develop more competitive small and medium scale enterprises through such supply chain initiatives is enormous.
  • Working with communities, NGOs and other stakeholders to improve emergency response capabilities, infrastructure planning, community health preparations, watershed management and information systems.

Many of these types of actions are unlikely to be initiated through a top down -- and much slower -- public policy driven mitigation process. An aggressive, properly designed and incentivized adaptation strategy can take advantage of already existing skills and technologies to build smarter cities with cleaner, more energy efficient transportation systems, intelligent utility networks, green information systems and data centers, and more sustainable water networks. Climate adaptation initiatives implemented today will also provide experience in product introductions and marketing strategies for customer acceptance of more radical innovations tomorrow. The beneficiaries of such actions are increasingly in developing countries in some of the areas of greatest vulnerability to a climate changed world.

Adaptation is no substitute for a global mitigation agreement, but neither does a future-oriented mitigation strategy solve the immediate problems that we face as a global community. Our primary goal is to drain the carbon from our atmospheric bathtub --here lies the opportunity for a grand bargain between proponents of mitigation and adaptation strategies to manage and reduce climate risks and impacts.

This article appeared on GreenBiz.Com on March 6, 2009.

Document Actions
Document Actions