Resilience, Sustainable Supply Chain Key Topics at Climate Leadership Conference

WSP USA sponsored and participated in the March 2020 Climate Leadership Conference, a premier networking event for climate, energy and sustainability professionals.

The climate crisis is intensifying, and the time to act is now.

Two major themes that emerged from the Climate Leadership Conference (CLC) in Detroit on March 4-6 were resilience and sustainable supply chain, which are interconnected topics that are increasingly capturing the attention of the global market.

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Risk Report, extreme weather, climate action failure and biodiversity loss are in the top five risks in terms of likelihood and impact. Additionally, human-made environmental disasters, natural disasters and water crises are all in the top ten for likelihood and impact.

One of the primary barriers that we heard from those who attended the CLC is that while organizations might understand why climate action is important, many do not know where to start to even assess or mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. Organizations are unsure of how to address the challenges supply chains face from climate-related risks and the resilience measures needed to sustain growth in a changing climate.

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©2020 WSP USA

At the Climate Leadership Conference, WSP USA’s Kealy Herman led a training session on how to set the right targets within a supply chain.

Assessing Risks

We must not be paralyzed by the magnitude of the challenges we face. Here are three ways to get started on assessing climate-related risks and opportunities to your business and supply chain, and enhancing your organization’s overall resilience:

Collaborate. There is certainly no one-size fits all solution to the climate crisis. However, there are approaches and frameworks that can be applied broadly across sectors. Organizations should engage internal and external stakeholders early, share risk assessment findings and best practices widely, and consider novel collaboration opportunities through public private partnerships and pre-competitive collaboration.

Innovate. We need to get creative if we’re going to accelerate the transition to a carbon-constrained economy. The speed of business puts corporations in a unique position to drive innovation in climate solutions. However, employees must be empowered to apply their talents to problems outside of their formal responsibilities, and teams need sufficient psychological safety to suggest new approaches and ideas. Whether it’s a hackathon, a pitch competition, on-the-ground projects, an internal think tank, a climate sprint, or an innovation fund, formalizing the freedom to create and encouraging a culture of innovation will enable businesses to fast-track sustainability and climate resilience.

Iterate. The methods for measuring and mitigating climate and environmental risks and impacts may be imperfect today, but iteration will lead to continuous improvement. Despite uncertainty in approaches and potential gaps in data availability, it is important to get started now.

Pilot programs or on-the-ground projects allow organizations to test potential solutions, take meaningful action and minimize risks, and refine innovative approaches to reducing environmental and climate-related impacts. For example, if your objective is to reduce supply chain greenhouse gas emissions while minimizing climate-related risks, consider a pilot program with a handful of your most material and critical suppliers. Expand the program stepwise, incorporating outcomes from previous interventions as you scale.

For more information about WSP’s supply chain and resiliency capabilities, check out our Sustainability, Energy and Climate Change services: https://www.wsp.com/en-NL/services/sustainability-energy-and-climate-change

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©2020 WSP USA

WSP USA’s Emily Wasley (right) discussed increasing trends in the climate adaptation and resilience market during her presentation at the Climate Leadership Conference.

Related Publications

Author

Kealy Herman
Senior Consultant
United States

Author

Emily Wasley
Senior Project Director - Sustainability, Energy and Climate Change
United States