Case Study

WWF Climate Savers strategy: In search of the “giant step”

20 pages
September 2008
Reference: IMD-2-0139

When first founded in 1998, the CS initiative was set up to appeal to US-based companies. It was innovative and ambitious with a goal of encouraging companies to reach absolute CO2-reduction, overcompensating growth, without harming bottom lines. Results were verified by third parties. Subsequently, WWF engaged with 15 corporate partners, mainly in the US and Europe. Ten years on, they had shown that the approach could be effective…but that it had its limits. Companies were limiting themselves to small steps rather than taking more of the giant steps required. By 2008, the CO2-reduction market had become more of a political issue and was becoming rather crowded. New climate change initiatives and partnerships had been popping up with startling regularity. It seemed that everyone was on the bandwagon. A new and more focused WWF organizational strategy had pushed the CS initiative to become more autonomous (its budget had been cut by some 50% over the previous five years). Business as usual was not an option. The challenge was to develop a compelling, innovative new business model proposal with a financing plan that works to avoid phasing out the Climate Savers partnership. During a workshop at IMD members from WWF have identified four options: rollout to other sectors than those currently on board, focus on emerging markets such as China, more aggressive perusal of inherently low carbon business models (zero-CO2), or increasing commitments along corporate value chains. The case study provides various background information for discussing these strategic options. Clearly CS cannot go for all four options at once – after all, strategy means choice!

Learning Objective

The case provides inside into generic business model innovation strategies, the changes in NGO’s business environment, challenges in partnership between NGOs and companies, Corporate Sustainability and how to evaluate strategic options.

Business Model Innovation, Corporate Sustainability, Climate Change, Strategic Management, Business Environment, Non-Governmental Organization, Corporate Sustainability Management
Field Research
© 2008
Available Languages
Related material
Teaching note, Video
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