It feels as though life in 2020 has stood still in many ways. But as autumn arrives here in New York, I’m reminded that change is a fact of life – in the natural world, in business and for us all as individuals. In this spirit, I will be leaving CDP North America, where I have had the honor of serving as President for the past year and a half.
It is a bittersweet goodbye. I am sorry to leave the talented team I have been privileged to work with and get to know so well in our pursuit of CDP’s critical mission. However, I know I am leaving CDP North America in a strong position, with exciting momentum and a great trajectory going into 2021 and beyond.
I came to CDP eager to leverage my corporate experience to help accelerate and scale CDP’s efforts to engage companies, cities and investors as they progress on the path toward a resilient and sustainable future. And I’m proud of all we have accomplished together. We’ve seen corporate commitments to set science-based targets nearly double in the past 18 months. We’ve seen continued growth in disclosure, with 500+ more North American companies sharing their environmental data with CDP since I joined. Companies comprising 56% of global market capitalization now disclose to CDP, including nearly 80% of companies in the S&P 500 index, signaling that we are reaching critical mass.
And in 2020, despite a devastating pandemic that led many municipal governments to slash budgets and furlough workers, we saw heroic efforts from cities disclosing in North America – including several notable first-time disclosers – an impressive feat for such a difficult year. We also secured significant new investor signatories, bringing the total assets under management of our capital markets signatories to an impressive US$106 trillion. All this makes me confident that we are on a path to achieving the goal we set when CDP was founded twenty years ago: to catalyze sustainable investments for a safe and environmentally-resilient future.
I’ve also seen incredible innovation in how we support our stakeholders and provide valuable insights to the market. Last year we launched our Sustainable Food Systems initiative, and we’ll shortly release a report on the global state of play of food companies’ environmental impact and action. We also launched a fixed income pilot initiative, in order to accelerate sustainable investment from the wider capital markets.
Our work with municipalities across the U.S. and Canada has emphasized the need to support sustainability professionals working to make their cities more resilient, and so our Matchmaker work has grown in scope to provide trainings, networking and resource-sharing. There’s also our hackathon series and ongoing data competition, a partnership with Dell, BQuest Foundation and Google to draw solutions from our vast treasure trove of city and corporate environmental data. I’m also proud of the uptick we have seen in public exposure and media presence, including making headlines at the New York Times, CNN, Forbes and elsewhere. Many more people know about CDP’s critical and foundational work now than 18 months ago – and more importantly, they understand how CDP can be a vital partner in their efforts to be transparent and action-oriented around climate change, water security and deforestation.
Of course, there is much work ahead of us as we blaze forward on our mission to create an economy that works for people and planet. The good news is: CDP North America will be in very good hands.
I’m pleased to announce that Ateli Iyalla has been promoted to Managing Director to lead CDP North America after my departure.
Throughout Ateli’s eight-year tenure at CDP, he’s been a crucial part of our North America office’s growth and story. In his current role, he oversees our engagement with corporations and supply chains, so he is well-positioned to drive forward our longstanding work with the private sector. But because of the intersectionality of our work, he is also deeply involved in the growing environmental action by investors, cities, states and regions.
Ateli is a seasoned and thoughtful leader. He acutely understands the need to integrate social equity more deeply into our work, especially at a time when Americans, Canadians and our allies around the globe are taking to the streets to demand a more just, inclusive and equitable future. As we grapple with the dire and dueling impacts of COVID-19 and climate change, we at CDP know that we must build back better, and we know that connecting the dots between social justice and environmental resilience must be an important part of our work. This is a belief Ateli shares profoundly.
While change in leadership is inevitable for all organizations that have been around as long as CDP, rest assured that our mission and work remain as important as ever. The CDP North America team will continue to confidently and competently carry forward our momentum. And while I’ll no longer be a direct part of this critical work, I’ll eagerly support from the sidelines, cheering on the passionate and dedicated team I have been honored to work with over this past year and a half.