Foes Turn Friends to Heal Oceans, Forests, and Climate


Earth Day 50 Challenge Unites Strange Bedfellows using the “Greenpeace-Walmart Effect”

MEDIA RELEASE: October 12, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO — Leaders of a range of global companies and eco-activist groups are setting aside historic differences and joining forces in a new project that uses brand power to tackle three of the planet’s toughest environmental problems.

The Earth Day 50 Challenge aims to secure commitments from 50 of the world’s most influential companies to advance systemic market solutions to ocean, forest, and climate challenges. The deadline for tangible progress is April 2020, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

In partnership with the Texas-based philanthropist Trammell S. Crow and Earth Day Texas, the non-profit stakeholder engagement group Future 500 unveiled The Earth Day 50 Challenge project today with a new report of the same name.

“This isn’t just about recycling boxes anymore; the challenges to our forests, oceans, and climate systems are so daunting, that no one country or company can solve them alone,” said Bill Shireman, Future 500 executive director. “The Earth Day 50 Challenge is all about finding common ground, and using the power of markets to first halt the damage, and then start to repair these planetary systems.”

The Earth Day 50 Challenge is rooted in an approach Future 500 calls the “Greenpeace-Walmart Effect”—advocacy organizations capturing the attention of household names, which then use their supply chains and policy influence to drive change.  At the heart of the Challenge is a focus on systemic solutions—those that remedy the root causes of environmental challenges, rather than address symptoms.

“Outdated business practices and market failures helped bring us to this point,” said Shireman. “But private-sector businesses—driving innovation, coaching suppliers, and working with nonprofits and governments—are a tremendously powerful force for good that we are only starting to tap to drive systemic change.”

The report recommends how companies can drive deep environmental change by working with nonprofit leaders, engaged shareholders, and others. Future 500 convened more than 40 executives from leading global companies with 34 environmental leaders, as well as philanthropists, and academics, to develop the recommendations.

The group met in Dallas this past spring, and plans to meet there again to begin work. Future 500 is actively recruiting new businesses to the Earth Day 50 Challenge.

Learn more about The Future 500 Summit at EarthX (formerly The Earth Day 50 Challenge).


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