To celebrate CDP’s 20th anniversary, we’re interviewing members of CDP’s global team for reflections and insights on the past, present and future of environmental disclosure and action. Mirjam Wolfrum joined CDP Europe in 2015 as Director Policy Engagement has led CDP Europe’s policy engagement throughout that time, first from Berlin, and then from Brussels. Mirjam helps bring CDP’s data and insights into the heart of key European policies, on climate, water, forests, corporate reporting and governance reporting, due diligence and supply chains, and — especially over the last two years — sustainable finance.
What is the single most important thing people should know about CDP?
CDP’s work is a very tangible and concrete building block for achieving the European Green Deal. We work at entity level with companies, capital market actors, cities, states and regions. This allows us to connect bottom-up environmental action with activities at the macro-economic level, by driving systemic change in the financial system, in the way companies operate and in how local governments are adapting to a resilient carbon-neutral future.
What’s your most memorable moment in your time working at CDP?
The most memorable moment is probably one of the most recent ones: when the European Green Deal including the Climate Law was announced. There have been many important, very ambitious policy actions leading up to it, but it still feels like a historic moment and I believe CDP’s policy engagement had a small, but significant role to play in driving this political ambition and will.
What has been your proudest accomplishment during your time at CDP?
To develop, pilot and operationalize the CDP government partnerships program out of Europe. These partnerships are designed to help governments and other public institutions to analyze the impact of non-state climate action towards achieving international and national climate targets and national climate plans, including the European Green Deal. The momentum, the interest and the will were on our side, and added a new authority to CDP’s theory of change, involved some transformation within our own organizational thinking. The Italian Ministry of the Environment and the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs already endorse CDP.
Have you seen CDP evolve during your time working for the organization? If so, how?
Yes and no. In some ways, CDP has evolved enormously. We have seen a major increase in disclosure numbers, in action taken, and in real measurable impact achieved.
On the other hand, it’s critical that CDP continues to evolve and keep up with the “data revolution” and the new ways — driven by regulation, by technology, by geo-politics, by necessity stemming from planetary boundaries — of collecting, sharing and using data in the future.
What do you think is CDP’s greatest accomplishment over the past 20 years?
CDP has created the world’s largest, most comprehensive dataset of environmental information from companies cities, states and regions. There is no other dataset like it, and CDP’s data and insights are driving change.
What are your hopes for the next 20 years of CDP?
With these foundations laid, there is still much more to be done: CDP data has the potential to enable and inform decision-making at all levels. In the next 20 years, we need to continue to grow the reach of CDP data, putting it at the heart of all decision-making, by government officials at all levels and scales, from civil servants to politicians, from the local to the international level.
What’s your proudest impact on European – or global policy? What can CDP be most proud of influencing globally?
CDP’s data played an important role in making the Paris Agreement happen. That happened before I joined, but from my perspective it’s the biggest achievement in policy that CDP ever had.
My personal proudest impact is on EU rules of corporate reporting on non-financial information. This is much more significant than most people think. Since transparency is key to steer and drive action, the revision of the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive is front and center to the implementation of CDP’s mission in the EU and we have – since its adoption in 2014 and transposition in the EU Member States in 2016 – been providing data and insight to the European Commission, Parliament and Member States. Now, we are expecting a revised reporting law which will be delivering against the Paris Agreement. So we are on track to reflect CDP’s mission in law, with the incorporation of the TCFD recommendations and science-based targets (SBTs), amongst other key indicators of corporate transparency and action.
CDP’s 20th anniversary falls in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. What do you think is the importance of CDP’s work as we start to recover?
CDP plays a key role in driving a green recovery. CDP can support governments around the globe with data, engagement and insight to make the taxpayers’ money be used for a truly green transformation and recovery from the health and economic crises. Our recent paper outlines what must happen to build the economy in such a way that delivers on Europe’s critical climate goals.
Finish the sentence, ‘I work at CDP because…’
I work at CDP because of its mission and people.
In one word: what does CDP mean to you?
Seven words: Impact. And the right thing to do.