Updating the WEC Gold Medal Criteria

 Frequently Asked Questions

Why were the World Environment Center’s Gold Medal Awards Criteria Revised?

The World Environment (WEC) Gold Medal Award, one of the most prestigious forms of recognition of a global company's ongoing commitment to the practice of sustainable development, is presented annually to a global company that has demonstrated a unique example of sustainability in business practice.

The WEC Gold Medal has a 34-year history, and in 2015 the Gold Medal Jury concluded that it was time to update the criteria to reflect growing global environmental and social challenges as well as new trends in the field of corporate sustainability. It prepared the evaluation of trends reflected in these FAQs, and crafted a new set of criteria which was reviewed by an advisory group of sustainability leaders, then tested with stakeholders and their suggestions integrated into the final version. These criteria were first incorporated into the call for applications for the 2016 Gold Medal Award.

How do the new criteria reflect the latest trends in the field of corporate sustainability?

Recent years have seen tremendous advances in the ways that leading companies are integrating sustainability more fully into their strategies and operations. This evolution over the last 30 years can be seen as originally focused on compliance and citizenship, followed by commitments for resource efficiency and enhancing well-being.  In more recent years, innovation to drive global change has become a focus of sustainability leaders in the private sector.  Innovation can take many forms, including technology development, leadership affecting system-wide change, and new collaborations that achieve market scale.

What are the main changes to the new criteria?

Major changes include:

·         Applicants need to report on measurable results, not just plans for future activities or commitments;

·         Companies should demonstrate global sustainability leadership beyond the walls of their facilities, to extend impact within the broader value chain; and to provide substantive leadership for positive changes to address critical environmental and social challenges at the national, regional and global levels;

·         Clear demonstration of top level leadership from the board and owners of the business.

·         Greater emphasis on embedding sustainability into the core values and line operations of the company. This replaces the former “Signature Contribution” which, in some cases, simply repeated the corporate strategy, or in others simply discussed a small side project that did not necessarily reflect the broader advances made by the company.  

·         Use of a more streamlined approach to eliminate overlapping information requirements.

How will the application process under the new criteria differ from the previous criteria?

The two-step application process remains the same: 1) applicants first complete the online nomination form, then if selected to proceed, 2) submit a full application.

Who is eligible to submit an application under the new criteria?

The eligibility factors have not changed.  Global corporations that can document well implemented, outstanding and sustained success are eligible to compete for the award. A potential applicant company must demonstrate global vision and a commitment to sustainable development through innovative application of policies, and international economic, environmental, and social responsibilities. An independent jury of international leaders makes the Gold Medal recipient selection.

What is the time frame for submitting an application for the 2018 Award?

Self-Nomination deadline: September 18, 2017

Full application deadline: November 4, 2017

How long should an application be?

There is no official page limit, but applicants should aim for an ideal maximum of 12-13 pages.

Who are the members of the Jury and of the Advisory Group that supported the revision?

Gold Medal Jury

Kathy Sierra (Chair), Brookings Institution, USA

Leslie Carothers, Visiting Scholar, Environmental Law Institute, USA

Richard Poduska, Eastman Kodak (retd), USA

Robert Slater, Carleton University, Canada

Jennifer Turner, Woodrow Wilson Center, USA

Raymond van Ermen, European Partners for the Environment, Belgium

Advisory Group

Alan Hecht, (Personal Capacity) US Environmental Protection Agency

Jane Nelson, Harvard University

Glenn Prickett, The Nature Conservancy


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