On September 21, 2020, almost two decades after the landmark book, The Restoration Economy, predicted such moves, Walmart—the world’s largest retailer—has announced its intention to help restore the planet.
Chapter 14 of The Restoration Economy detailed how “sustainable development”—a favorite of the corporate world for the past three decades due to its lack of accountability—would eventually give way to restorative development, which is entirely based on measurable, regenerative results.
Walmart, and the Walmart Foundation, aim to protect, manage or restore at least 50 million acres of land and one million square miles of ocean by 2030 to help reverse the cascading loss of nature threatening the planet. Walmart has also targeted zero emissions for its operations by 2040.
“We want to play an important role in transforming the world’s supply chains to be regenerative. We face a growing crisis of climate change and nature loss, and we all need to take action with urgency,” said Doug McMillon, president and chief executive officer, Walmart Inc.
“For 15 years, we have been partnering to do the work and continually raising our sustainability ambitions across climate action, nature, waste and people. The commitments we’re making today not only aim to decarbonize Walmart’s global operations, they also put us on the path to becoming a regenerative company – one that works to restore, renew and replenish in addition to preserving our planet, and encourages others to do the same,” he added.
To avoid the worst effects of climate change, the world must take immediate action to drastically reduce and remove greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why Walmart is building on its commitment to climate action by raising its ambition to zero emissions by 2040, without the use of carbon offsets, across its global operations by:
- Harvesting enough wind, solar and other renewable energy sources to power its facilities with 100% renewable energy by 2035;
- Electrifying and zeroing out emissions from all of its vehicles, including long-haul trucks by 2040; and
- Transitioning to low-impact refrigerants for cooling and electrified equipment for heating in its stores, clubs and data and distribution centers by 2040.
The world has also pushed its natural resources to the point of crisis, resulting in the degradation and loss of critical landscapes and the eradication of many species of plants and animals. In fact, studies show animal populations have declined by over 60% in just over 40 years, and one-fifth of the Amazon’s rainforest has disappeared in just 50 years.
Not only can a regenerative approach to nature help reverse these negative impacts and sustain critical resources for the future, it can also provide around a third of the solution to climate change.
“We must all take urgent, sustained action to reverse nature loss and emissions before we reach a tipping point from which we will not recover,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, executive vice president and chief sustainability officer for Walmart Inc. and president of the Walmart Foundation.
“People have pushed past the earth’s natural limits. Healthy societies, resilient economies and thriving businesses rely on nature. Our vision at Walmart is to help transform food and product supply chains to be regenerative, working in harmony with nature – to protect, restore and sustainably use our natural resources,” she continued
Recognizing the need to act now, along with the Walmart Foundation, Walmart aims to protect, manage or restore some of the world’s most critical landscapes by:
- Continuing to support efforts to preserve at least one acre of natural habitat for every acre of land developed by the company in the U.S.;
- Driving the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices, sustainable fisheries management and forest protection and restoration – including an expansion of
Walmart’s forests policy; and
- Investing in and working with suppliers to source from place-based efforts that help preserve natural ecosystems and improve livelihoods.
Walmart’s Doug McMillon shared the news during the opening ceremony of Climate Week NYC. The announcement came one day prior to the retailer’s annual Sustainability Milestone Summit, to be held during Climate Week’s Hub Live, where the company will engage Walmart associates, suppliers, NGOs and other stakeholders to advance sustainability in the retail and consumer goods sector.
Aerial rendering of Walmart’s new green home office in Bentonville, Arkansas is courtesy of Walmart.