When it comes to the private sector, we believe that business can be part of the solution to address some of the most pressing challenges facing our planet.
WWF’s Market Transformation Initiative works with major companies and their supply chains to change the way key global commodities are produced, processed, consumed and financed worldwide.
As a conservation organization, our role in such corporate engagements is unique. We are driven by our mission and goals; we are not an auditor or certifier, nor do we offer work-for-hire or consulting arrangements. Instead, we seek transformational partnerships based on mutual goals that create conservation impacts where they matter most.
We identify and share better practices for producing our priority commodities, particularly as part of multi-stakeholder initiatives that agree upon principles and set standards for more sustainable management practices. Through these, WWF participated in developing a number of credible, third-party certification schemes, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). These standards aim to become the leading mainstream standards in sustainability and better management practices. They must be capable of preventing further environmental degradation and drive the whole industry toward better performance.
Ongoing improvement is an essential component of the certification schemes we support. Continuously raising voluntary standards lifts industry norms, while allowing the most progressive companies to distinguish themselves from those doing business as usual. It can also raise mandatory standards, which lift up the poorest performers. In the long term, we want to elevate the necessity of sustainability: just as safety certificates are a prerequisite for selling electrical equipment, market access will depend on being able to verify that commodities have been produced within the Earth’s limits.
Engaging the private sector
Businesses can become part of the solution, rather than perceived as part of the problem. We identify where there are the biggest environmental impacts or potential impacts—and the associated risks for businesses. Once the risks are identified, companies can create voluntary standards, join roundtables, and make commitments to purchase verified sustainable products, map their supply chain or work with their suppliers. Such actions help companies make maximize their influence, as well as reduce reputational risks and maintain brand value.
Influencing financial flows
Financial markets depend on a steady flow of key natural resources to support the global economy. An eroding environmental resource base poses both acute and systemic risks to investors. There’s also a strong correlation between financial performance and performance on environmental and social issues. By attaching sustainability criteria to their lending and investment conditions, financial institutions are helping to raise standards in critical markets. Our voluntary standards and partnerships help demonstrate that a company recognizes sustainability as a business issue and is managing it well.