World Resources Institute and WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities celebrate the Courage to Lead
Every two years, the World Resources Institute (WRI) honors individuals committed to confronting the great environmental, social, and economic challenges of today. The 2014 Courage to Lead Luncheon brought together an impressive lineup of speakers to recognize the achievements of WRI Chairman James A. Harmon and Citi Foundation President Pamela P. Flaherty, featuring speeches from former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation; Dan Doctoroff, president and CEO of Bloomberg and WRI Board member; and Dr. Andrew Steer, president and CEO of WRI.
Both Harmon and Flaherty share the belief that economic development and environmental sustainability go hand in hand, and together improve the lives of people around the world.
Harmon was recognized for his long track record advancing corporate sustainability, expanding opportunities for economically disadvantaged communities in the developing world, and creating a safer and healthier planet for all. Since being elected WRI Chairman in 2004, his guidance has helped the Institute grow from a staff of 150 to over 450 professionals working to solve six pressing challenges: climate, energy, food, forests, water, cities & transport, governance, finance, and business.
Similarly, Flaherty has been a leader in developing Citi’s sustainability strategy, including its US$ 50 billion Climate Initiative. She has also helped to develop widely implemented industry guidelines to assess the environmental and social impacts of global project financing.
Sustainable cities and urbanization at Courage to Lead
Both honorees also emphasized the importance of cities in creating a socially, environmentally, and financially sustainable planet. Following the recent launch of the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, urban growth and its impacts on quality of life were a common thread throughout the event. With 70% of the global population expected to live in cities by 2050, these challenges will only grow over time. Leadership from individuals like Harmon and Flaherty will be key to addressing them.
To that end, Flaherty announced that the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Council, Citi, and WRI will formulate a joint approach to support cities on scalable, replicable finance solutions for sustainable infrastructure. These efforts will complement those of the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, including the work of EMBARQ, the sustainable mobility pillar of the Center.
Voices from Courage to Lead
Rodham Clinton acknowledged the significant challenges facing world leaders, and the role organizations like WRI can play in overcoming them.
“These are such consequential challenges: the focus on climate change, clean energy, on water and forests, and the increasing effects of urbanization are the heart and soul of what WRI has done,” she stated. “So I am greatly appreciative of WRI’s work, pushing ahead, asking the tough questions, and influencing business and government. We’ve made some progress over the years, but we still have so much more to do.”
Harmon spoke to WRI’s success in bringing the private sector into sustainable development, working collaboratively to advance common goals.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is the successful integration of the private sector into WRI’s work,” he said. Harmon highlighted EMBARQ’s work partnering with city and business leaders to scale up bus rapid transit (BRT) to over 160 cities worldwide. “When I visit Mexico City now, I can take a run,” he said. “Ten years from now, I hope I will be able to say the same of Beijing and maybe Cairo.”
See more from Courage to Lead
For more videos, photos, and live coverage from Courage to Lead 2014, as well as resources from previous years, visit www.wri.org/events/2014-courage-to-lead-luncheon.