January 2024 Newsletter

In just over a month, we will be seeing many of you at Climate Day at Expo West. Climate Day is the only event in the natural products industry dedicated exclusively to advancing climate action. This year's program is shaping up to be our most engaging yet filled with a diverse lineup of influential speakers, in-depth case studies, and ample opportunities for networking to enhance your climate initiatives. Concurrent to the programming is the Resource Fair with 20+ companies eager to support you with all aspects of your climate work. The day will also include important announcement from the Climate Collaborative and other organizations about pre-competitive partnership opportunities.

I want to flag a few key items in the newsletter below:

  • Certscape 1.4 Released!: Please note that we have released our updated Certscape. It now includes Regenfied and revised responses from the other certifications as well.
  • Two New Accelerators: In late spring we are launching two accelerators, one focused on retailer climate action and one on communications & disclosure. Please complete the interest forms for these if you want to be the first to know when they are launched. See details below.
  • Climate Day Opportunity: As part of our Climate Day panel with Dr. Leah Stokes, we are seeking stories from companies in our community on electrification. Are you electrifying your fleet or upgrading your manufacturing equipment? Share your good news with us by February 9th to have your story shared on stage. 
  • Matching Funds Available: Under Partner Resources below there is an opportunity from the Wolfe's Neck Center to access matching funds to support your regenerative agriculture work.

I look forward to seeing many of you in Anaheim in just over one month!

Warmest regards,

Courtney

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Courtney Pineau
Executive Director
Climate Collaborative

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December 2023 Newsletter

Happy (almost) New Year! Like every year, 2023 has had its share of wins and losses, or as we say in our household, roses and thorns. On an organizational level, we've experienced significant growth in our programs and offerings and have formed many new partnerships—a true rose. We are already exploring ways to expand our pre-competitive collaborations in 2024.

Our recent Tracking Progress Report makes it clear that while companies understand the importance of reducing their climate impacts, they are often under-resourced when it comes to achieving their set targets—a thorn in our collective work. We believe that through pre-competitive collaboration, companies can partner to effectively navigate the complexities of climate work.

As COP28 demonstrated, we must move from promises to performance, and we can't get there if we continue to fund the very activities that are leading to climate change while under-resourcing the development of the infrastructure and support mechanisms needed to transition away from an inherently extractive economy. As they say, talk is cheap, and as we head into an election year, it is going to be so critical that we keep climate front and center as a critical issue. 

We are so thankful to the community of organizations and leaders that went to COP28 to bring voice to the need to protect and support those most impacted by climate change, to end the burning of fossil fuels, and to continue to build a food system in alignment with the flourishing of our planet. One of the biggest roses in this work are the incredible people working tirelessly, often behind the scenes, in support of the climate.

As we close out the year, I want to reiterate our commitment to our mission of activating climate action in the grocery industry and acknowledge the hard work and dedication of each member of this community. Let us carry this momentum into the new year with unwavering focus and a shared vision of a healthy, just, and regenerative future. Together, we'll celebrate our successes ('roses') and tackle our challenges ('thorns') with determination. And perhaps we can take a page from the book of my 8-year-old, who wisely observes that most thorns are merely weeds — a bit troublesome, maybe, yet often hiding a benefit just waiting to be discovered.

Wishing you a year filled with inspiration, collaboration, and meaningful progress on your climate commitments.  

Warmest regards,

Courtney

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Courtney Pineau
Executive Director
Climate Collaborative

 

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November 2023 Newsletter

In a few days, global leaders will convene in Dubai for COP28. Alongside other businesses and non-profits, the Climate Collaborative has made an appeal to these decision-makers to halt the unchecked burning of fossil fuels. The moment has come for us to shift from pledges to palpable progress, from stated intentions to tangible outcomes. As the adage goes, actions speak louder than words, and the toll of the slow progress on climate action is a cost that we are all collectively bearing. 

The Climate Collaborative staff and Board hold ourselves to the same standard, constantly asking: Are we making a measurable impact on our mission to accelerate climate action within the grocery sector? This year, we've made a strategic shift, embracing more fully our belief that pre-competitive collaboration stands as one of the most effective ways to assist businesses in their climate journey—especially when resources are tight. Coinciding with the initiation of COP28, we are launching our Organic and Regenerative Transition Community of Practice. Looking ahead to 2024, we are excited to announce the launch of an additional community of practice along with several more accelerators, each designed to catalyze and amplify our collective climate endeavors.

The foundational theory of change driving these pre-competitive collaborations rests on the understanding that by working together, companies can increase their capacity for action, going further faster together. It's the belief that collective endeavor, not solitary effort, will lead to significant strides in navigating the intricate and often unclear path of climate action.

Here are ways you can support this work:

We look forward to working with you in the coming year! If you need support as you plan your climate action, please don't hesitate to reach out. 

Our deepest thanks,

Courtney

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Courtney Pineau
Executive Director
Climate Collaborative

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October 2023 Newsletter

I wanted to share a quick policy update with you. As the year draws to a close, the likelihood of a one-year extension to the Farm Bill is increasing. In the House, the release of the Farm Bill draft is pending the Speaker's scheduling of legislative discussions, which was delayed during the process of selecting the new Speaker, Mike Johnson (R-LA). Speaker Johnson hopes to allocate floor time for the Farm Bill in December, contingent on Congress's ability to pass a stop-gap measure for FY24 spending bills. Meanwhile, in the Senate, partisan divisions on key issues persist, delaying the release of the Farm Bill draft.

One of the most significant points of contention between Democrats and Republicans is the allocation of funds designated for climate-smart agriculture and climate change mitigation from the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. Democrats advocate for keeping these funds within the Conservation title, earmarked for climate mitigation, while others propose using a portion of funds more broadly within the conservation title or for other priorities, such as commodity support, research, or risk management. 

In state news, California's Governor Newsom recently signed an important climate disclosure bill into law! The Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act (SB 253) requires the state board to develop and adopt regulations requiring specified partnerships, corporations, limited liability companies, and other business entities with total annual revenues in excess of $1 billion and that do business in California to publicly disclose to their scope 1 and scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions to the newly created emissions reporting organization. Learn more about the bill, including the timing for implementation, here. Our partners at Ceres are hosting a webinar on October 31st to help companies better understand the implications. You can find more information below. 

Lastly, our friends at the Organic Farming Research Foundation are asking companies to contact their congressional representatives to express their support for the Strengthening Organic Agricultural Research (SOAR) Act in the House and the Organic Science and Research Investment (OSRI) Act in the Senate. We've included two toolkits below with a template email you can use to contact your congressional representatives. 

We thank you for your ongoing involvement and advocacy in this important piece of legislation and will continue to share timely calls to action as they arise in the coming months.

In collaboration,

Courtney

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Courtney Pineau
Executive Director
Climate Collaborative

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September 2023 Newsletter

In late spring, the Climate Collaborative Board and staff came together to engage in strategic planning. This was an inspiring process that tapped our collective intelligence and many of our forms of knowing to revision our organizational DNA. One element of this DNA was a foundational belief that "Collaboration is essential to accelerating climate action at scale and through collaboration the natural products industry has the capacity to lead on climate action." The new DNA articulates three core strategies: operationalize best practices, resource pre-competitive solutions, and provide pathways for action.

Since that time, we have been living into this new DNA. The fruits of this work include a number of new offerings and products that were launched just in the past two weeks:

  • The Climate Action and Innovation Matrix launched in partnership with Planet FWD. This tool provides pathways for action that are strategic, impactful, and brand aligned. 
  • The Climate Action Connector will support companies in finding resources and partners (including pre-competitive partners!) to help accelerate their climate work.
  • The Organic and Regenerative Transition Community of Practice is a year-long engagement for CPGs working on supply chain development for wheat, oats, buckwheat, lentils, chickpeas, and sunflowers. 
  • The Regenerative Certscape was developed in response to requests from our community to gain a deeper understanding of emerging regenerative certification programs. 
  • The Service Provider Membership provides a platform to help connect our robust climate service provider network into our broader community of thousands of companies in the grocery industry. 
  • Five sessions at Expo East including a new summit format focused on forest action, a session on the Farm Bill, and a session on the Climate Action and Innovation Matrix. 

Each of these offerings reflect our commitment to bringing our community together to take meaningful action on climate. Our hope is that you will put these tools to use, give us feedback as needed, let us know how we can be of support, and please consider sponsoring the Climate Collaborative. Sponsorship is critical to helping us continue to do this important work. 

In collaboration,

Courtney

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Courtney Pineau
Executive Director
Climate Collaborative 

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August 2023 Newsletter

We are just days away from September and it feels like fall is already in full swing. Just in time for back-to-school season, we have some new tools and offerings to share with you.

First, in the next few weeks we are releasing our long-awaited Climate Action Catalyzer Tool. This tool will help connect you to potential collaboration partners and service providers and will also provide you a customized report detailing resources specific to your climate needs. For the reminder of 2023, the tool will be free to our community as we continue to refine the content, connections, and resources. We can't wait for you to give it a try! 

We are also planning to release our Service Provider Membership Program in late September. We know there are so many of you in this community that are eager to connect your offerings with brands and retailers looking for solutions. Keep an eye on our website and newsletter for more details on how to sign up for this program.

In October, we are launching our Regenerative and Organic Transition Community of Practice. This year-long program brings together a skilled facilitator, experts in regenerative and organic agriculture, and a committed community of companies to work together to activate solutions in support of an organic and regenerative transition. Please see details below. Our deep thanks to the UNFI Foundation and Good Earth Natural Foods for supporting this critical work. 

I look forward to seeing many of you at Expo East! The Climate Collaborative has robust programming at the event, you can see the full description of our five sessions below.

In collaboration,

Courtney

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Courtney Pineau
Executive Director
Climate Collaborative 

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July 2023 Newsletter

Last week, an airport in coastal Iran recorded a heat index of 152 degrees Fahrenheit, nearly intolerable for human or animal life. They are not alone. Countries around the world are experiencing record-setting temperatures challenging the capacity of infrastructure and the limits of livable conditions. A crisis at this level of magnitude feels insurmountable, even to those of us that do this work every day, and yet we DO have the capacity to shift the direction of the crisis. So we take a collective deep breath, we fortify ourselves, and we keep going...

Several months ago, our team went through strategic planning with our Board, and there was deep alignment that one of the keys to unlocking climate action is through pre-competitive collaboration. In September, we will be unveiling the Climate Action Catalyzer, a new tool to help facilitate connections between companies. Then in October, we are launching a Community of Practice to support CPGs working on organic and regenerative transition.

In case you missed it, earlier this month, we sent out our sixth annual Tracking Progress Survey for companies that have made Climate Commitments through the Collaborative. Your completion of the survey provides accountability in our program, tracks your climate action, and assesses the climate progress of the grocery industry. New this year, companies that complete their Tracking Progress Survey are also eligible for UNFI's Climate Action Partnership. This provides you with more tools and visibility for your climate work. The deadline to submit your organization's update is August 18th. Please reach out if you have any questions about the Commitments your company has made.

Thank you for being an integral part of our vibrant community. We deeply appreciate your engagement in this work. 

In collaboration, 

Caitlin

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Caitlin Oleson
Director of Operations & Programming
Climate Collaborative

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June 2023 Newsletter

There is a language to business. A lingo that most of us use. We can talk about our "value proposition" or our "ROI" and most of us have some sense of what someone means. Obviously, there are nuances in definitions from organization to organization, but these terms play a role in framing how we think and how we approach our work.

Abigail Prout, a leadership coach in my region, recently shared a social post asking, "What if ROI stood for ripples of impact?" This creative reframing of ROI made me think about how our business structures (vocabulary, frameworks, certifications, etc.) create boundaries to our thinking that we are often not even aware of. 

"Stakeholders" is another term we frequently use that informs how we think about who is invested in the outcomes of our business. We tend to think about our team, our board, our customers, but who else has a stake in the outcomes of our work? How about the communities surrounding our facilities, or the people impacted by our waste stream? Can we go so far as to think about nature being a stakeholder?

If we considered nature as a stakeholder, it would impact everything from our operations to our product design. At the Climate Collaborative, we see this start to come alive in our forest commitment. Keeping forests intact and thriving is a critical climate solution. Whether you source directly from the forest or utilize row crops, you need to be considering how the land and forests are being managed. Forests are a critical stakeholder and are integral to our planet's wellbeing. 

If you want to learn more about the why and how of a forest commitment, I encourage you to listen to the webinar we hosted earlier this month with Quantis and Tony's Chocolonely. It did a fantastic job framing a path for companies to take meaningful action on their forest commitment. 

Keep an eye out for an invitation to our Forest Summit at Expo East in September!

In collaboration, 

Courtney

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Courtney Pineau
Executive Director
Climate Collaborative 

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May 2023 Newsletter

I have lived in the Pacific Northwest for the past 25 years. A land that is known for its incredible forests and massive trees, along with its grey and rainy climate. However, what most people may not know is that we are now seeing drought conditions for almost a quarter of the year. Last summer into the fall, we went 101 days with almost no rain (less than half an inch). As a result, our beloved cedar trees are rapidly dying, and our forests are suffering. 

I share this because when I look out my office window, I have a daily reminder that our forests are in jeopardy AND that they are one of our most critical climate solutions. 

Despite the critical role forests play in climate action, the number of companies in the Climate Collaborative community who have made a Forest Commitment is relatively low. Our goal is to shift that. In the coming months, you will see more programming focused on forest action. This includes case studies on companies committed to eliminating deforestation in their supply chains, webinars on zero deforestation policies, and resources to engage in reforestation efforts. 

Forests are relevant to EVERY company. Here is why. Because the conversion of forests and ecosystems for agriculture, forest degradation, and the critical need for afforestation, reforestation, and ecosystem restoration are relevant to all of us. Yes, even if you are not selling forest products and even if there is no deforestation in your supply chain. We all need to be taking action.

Make a forest commitment today to be connected to the resources you need to take action.

Next month, we are thrilled to focus on the opportunity for companies to set and implement deforestation-free commitments. We have more information below on this upcoming session. 

I hope to see many of you next month for this engaging conversation!

In collaboration, 

Courtney

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Courtney Pineau
Executive Director
Climate Collaborative 

 

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April 2023 Newsletter

April is a big month for companies in the natural products industry. There are no shortage of Earth Month activations for companies to engage staff, customers, or the wider community. I hope you'll consider one more SIMPLE yet powerful action to help close out Earth Month. You can ensure that the Farm Bill has strong climate provisions by signing your company on in support of the COVER Act—a bill that rewards farmers for growing cover crops and building soil health. Sign here to let Representative Casten, the COVER Act sponsor, know that your business supports the bill. Rep. Casten, and those working to incorporate the Act into the Farm Bill, will use this list to demonstrate to other lawmakers the support from the business community for the COVER Act. It takes one minute to sign! 

Last week, our Board of Directors gathered in Boulder for a three-day strategic planning retreat. It was the first time our new Board was together in person, and it was incredible to experience their depth of expertise, insights, collective vision for the future of the Climate Collaborative. We left our time together more energized than ever before about the work ahead and how we can deepen industry wide collaboration. To help close our retreat, we each wrote down an offering to the group. I'd like to leave you with one offering for our wider community of collaborators, partners, and supporters. 

May we continue to see the power and potential of transformation in ourselves, our industry, our economic system, our society and in each other.

In community,

Caitlin

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Caitlin Oleson
Director of Operations & Programming
Climate Collaborative 

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