1.5°C Only Possible Through Systems Change – WRI 

The NGO has announced a new strategic review, where it will address systemic change and measure its outcomes.  

The World Resources Institute (WRI) is moving away from working on “isolated silos of crisis or piecemeal solutions” to an “interconnected view, where it addresses systemic problems” to reflect the relationship between climate and nature and align the science of these issues with politics, President & CEO Ani Dasgupta told ESG Investor.  

WRI’s new five-year strategy will see it focus on three goals – people, nature and climate which it says are deeply interconnected and must be tackled together and at the same time.  

“We’ve worked on climate for 40 years,” Dasgupta said. “But one of the things that really stands out over the last four to five years was the striking science of the relationship between climate and nature.  

“It’s clear that you can’t get to 1.5°C without not only protecting, but also enhancing nature. If we destroy nature, that 1.5°C target will be nowhere in sight.”  

Dasgupta added that politics must align with science to make the climate transition successful.  

“The outcome has to be good for people,” he said. “It’s good for policymaking, but also to overcome the sheer injustice that is embedded in the current climate outcome where the people who suffer from climate-related disasters are disproportionally the poor.  

“The injustice dimension of climate is not new, it has just become more pertinent to the discussion.” 

There is a growing awareness that tackling climate change cannot be divorced from nature and society. UK-based pensions provider Scottish Widows has called for climate and nature to be tackled in tandem. This week, former US Secretary of the Treasury has warned, “it would be a tragic irony if, in our efforts to deal with climate change, we end up accelerating a bigger and immediate crisis in the natural world”.  

On the people side, there are concerns that the climate emergency, and financial sector efforts, risks stranding women and climate refugees.  

Measuring outcomes  

As part of its new strategy, Dasgupta also said the WRI would move focus from commitments to outcomes or impact.  

“You cannot build solutions one dimension at a time, because if people are not involved in the solution, or if it doesn’t help nature, or if you destroy nature, that will simply be detrimental,” he said.  

“The window is narrow, so, we have to be very deliberate in our choices.” 

WRI will also develop a unified approach to measure its success in achieving its outcomes, said Dasgupta. It will be supported by theories of change, that will use targets and metrics to monitor, evaluate and learn from the real-world impact of WRI’s outcomes.  

“It is risky, but we have said we have to hold ourselves accountable to the outcomes on the ground,” he said.  

WRI has already developed several measurement tools designed for its projects and partners such as the Systems Change Lab which last week found that eight countries had already grown solar and wind generation faster than what’s needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C, proving that a rapid transition to renewable energy is possible. 


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