How would you design Walmart’s path to join America’s Pledge?

Overview of America’s Pledge

Since 2007, when economy-wide emissions peaked, the United States has been reducing its emissions at a rate which, if sustained through 2025, would achieve almost the full amount of our Paris commitment. That rate of progress, which has been driven not by Washington policies but by actions taken by cities, states, businesses, and civil society, has been accelerating for the past four years.

Across America, states, cities, businesses, universities, and citizens are taking action to fight climate change, grow the economy, and protect public health. America’s Pledge brings together private and public sector leaders to ensure the United States remains a global leader in reducing emissions and delivers the country’s ambitious climate goals of the Paris Agreement.

Overview of Walmart

Each week, more than 200 million customers visit one of Walmart’s 11,695 stores across 28 countries. And even more go online to shop Walmart’s e-commerce websites in 11 countries.

As the largest retailer in the world (revenue $514 billion, top 1 in Fortune 500 list for 2019), Walmart has a large environmental footprint, but much of its carbon footprint does not come from inside its store walls. Over 90% of Walmart’s carbon emissions footprint comes from primary production from their supply chain (their products are not being sustainably produced/sourced).

You have been recently appointed as Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) at Walmart. On your first day on the job, the Board of Directors has directly requested that within a week you provide a short briefing session that defines Walmart’s corporate sustainability strategy as it decides to join America’s Pledge via the “We are still in” declaration.

Time is pressing and Walmart must act if it wants to capitalize on its joining of America’s pledge.

Your goal is to propose a “quick, back-of-the-envelope” Sustainability Management System (SMS) (design and steps for implementation) that goes beyond a simple business strategy, to integrate as comprehensively as possible, the entire Walmart system.

  1. As succinctly as possible, but without leaving important details out, outline using bullet points your SMS in five programmatic priority areas (e.g. waste, food) where Walmart’s environmental footprint can be reduced. The goal of this exercise is to integrate everything you have learned so far (both broad and specific) into a business roadmap for Walmart. Estimated time required for completion: 20 minutes.

To complement this learning exercise, please take a look at the content in these two links (video is useful – no need to click further than each page, unless curious):

  1. Do you agree with Walmart’s current programmatic areas? Given what they are currently doing [and considering what you propose in your response to (1) above] what would you change? Estimated time required for completion: 20 minutes.
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