How 10 Years in the Trenches with Walmart Built an On-Ramp for the Future

ElizabethSturcken-(2)_287x377I'm really proud of the tireless and innovative work that EDF's Corporate Partnership team has done with Walmart. It's been a successful 10-year journey  and I've done a lot of cheer leading over the last decade.

But now I'd like to look forward. Because we still have huge environmental challenges to tackle, and we're still looking to powerful businesses, like Walmart, to model the way toward a sustainable future.

Through our work with Walmart, McDonald's, FedEx and others over the past 25-years, we've seen a framework for corporate sustainability leadership emerge that other companies can use, across industries and around the world.

For EDF, this framework is critical to spreading environmental and business benefits throughout the corporate sector. By sharing best practices, EDF can have impact that extends far beyond the individual companies that are our partners.


EDF has identified three key elements that will reduce environmental impacts while increasing companies’ resilience and profitability:

Science – make it count: Corporate sustainability goals must be built on a solid foundation of science – to put a company’s environmental impact in perspective to the overall challenge of achieving sustainability on a global scale. Science helps set and identify the scale of the environmental challenges that any company must address and target the highest impact areas. Science-based analysis also tells companies what, realistically, they can do to meet their goals and when they should expect to meet them. Applying science also means grounding corporate sustainability goals in economics and recognizing that addressing climate change and other environmental supply chain risks is smart business.

Strategy – make it core: By looking closely at how sustainability goals align with its core business, companies can create measurable environmental impact that allows business and the planet to thrive. Companies have to start with the basics – focusing on their own operations first – but they quickly need to focus on where their big leverage is. Depending on the company, core could be driving their supply chain, engaging customers or changing their products themselves. Publicly set ambitious yet achievable goals and consistently measure progress like any key performance indicator. Send a clear signal to stakeholders, customers, staff and competitors that sustainability is an integral element of business. Corporate sustainability strategies that harness a company’s comparative advantage and internal expertise will add value and efficiencies to its supply chain while reducing environmental impact.

Systems – make it scale: No one company can tackle the world’s environmental challenges alone. Companies must actively collaborate with supply chain partners to send a clear demand signal for sustainable products and practices across the supply chain. It is no longer enough for companies to simply tend their own sustainability gardens, corporate leadership must engage with buyers, suppliers and producers beyond its four walls. Companies must work pre-competitively with others to achieve the environmental outcomes that the planet demands and that their business needs.

The power of partnerships – Read the case study of EDF & Walmart's 10-year journey toward sustainability.

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