GEMI Publishes Quick Guide on Buyer / Supplier Collaboration on Sustainability

GEMI Quick Guide provides a short, easy-to-read view of how companies can engage with their suppliers in more collaborative ways to create shared value.

Washington, DC – The Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI), a global leader in developing insights, networking and creating collaborative sustainability solutions for business, today published a Quick Guide on Buyer / Suppliers Collaboration on Sustainability.

The Quick Guide builds on GEMI’s Responsible Supply Chain Guiding Principles, published in 2017, and is intended to offer a simple framework for advancing buyer/supplier engagement on sustainability.

The Quick Guide may be used to support discussion within an organization, and with its suppliers and customers, about how to achieve greater business value from deeper collaboration on sustainability issues and opportunities.

Short case examples have been included throughout the Quick Guide to highlight how thoughtful and strategic engagement can reduce the burden on suppliers and deliver improved sustainability performance for both buyers and suppliers.

“GEMI developed its Responsible Supply Chain Guiding Principles to provide a framework to help guide the process for engaging suppliers regarding sustainability, advancing strategic collaborations and, promoting increased alignment across industry-focused supply chain sustainability initiatives” said Bill Gill, AVP Environmental Affairs, Smithfield Foods and GEMI’s Chair.  “This new Quick Guide builds on that framework established through the Guiding Principles to provide additional context relating to engaging with suppliers along with real-world examples to help companies to put the Guiding Principles into action.”

“GEMI’s Supply Chain Sustainability Work Group sought input from a variety of leading companies, third party providers, and industry associations to inform development of both the Responsible Supply Chain Guiding Principles as well as this Quick Guide,” said Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President and Director of Environmental Compliance, Gannett Fleming and GEMI’s Vice-Chair. “We greatly appreciate all those organizations that have taken the time to engage with GEMI and share their perspectives to help inform our discussions on this important topic.”

GEMI would like to thank the 2017/2018 GEMI member companies and Supply Chain Sustainability Work Group participants for their leadership and engagement in GEMI’s supply chain sustainability efforts, including American Chemistry Council, American Cleaning Institute, American Forest & Paper Association, Ashland, Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable, Carnival Corporation & PLC, Corn Refiners Association, Dell, Ecolab, ExxonMobil Chemical, FedEx Corporation, Gannett Fleming, Hexion, IPIECA, Merck, Perdue Farms, Plastics Industry Association, Procter & Gamble, Schlumberger, SealedAir, Smithfield Foods, Smith & Nephew, UL Environment, Valvoline, Waste Management.

GEMI would also like to recognize and thank those external organizations that provided input through GEMI Supply Chain Sustainability workshops in 2017 and 2018, including CDP, Ecodesk, EcoVadis, Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition, Electric Utility Industry Sustainable Supply Chain Alliance, Environmental Defense Fund, ISN, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Initiative, SupplyShift, Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council, The Sustainability Consortium, The Coca-Cola Company and Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production.

Special thanks also to Mary Beth Jordan, MBJ Strategies and Kellen Mahoney, GEMI’s Program Manager for their work in supporting the creation of this Quick Guide.

The GEMI Quick Guide may be downloaded at:

About GEMI 
GEMI ( is a global leader in developing insights, networking, and creating collaborative sustainability solutions for business. For 25 years, GEMI has captured the vision and experience of global corporate environmental, health and safety (EHS) and sustainability leaders from diverse business sectors through the development of a wide range of publicly-available, solutions-based tools designed to help companies improve the environment, their operations and add business value. 

GEMI Local Water Tool (LWT) 2.0 – Updating and Enhancing the LWT: Project Proposal

Business risk, opportunity assessments, and reporting related to water issues continue to evolve to require analyses of water use, local availability, impact of use, license to operate and climate-adaptation considerations on both global and local levels.

Originally released in 2012, the GEMI Local Water Tool™(LWT) is a free Excel-based tool for companies and organizations to evaluate the external impacts, business risks, opportunities and management plans related to water use and discharge at a specific site or operation. The GEMI Local Water Tool™(LWT) for Oil and Gas is a companion tool customized for petroleum companies.

The tool is designed to answer questions related to a local risk assessment of a specific site, such as:

  • What are the water risks at this site:
    • Physical supply
    • Regulatory
    • Social
    • Competition
    • Climate variability
  • Which risks are greatest?
  • What is our management plan?

The GEMI LWT™ was developed in cooperation with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) to link to the WBCSD Global Water Tool (GWT) as well as with IPIECA to link to the IPIECA Global Water Tool for Oil and Gas and provides a set of tools that companies can use to sustainably manage water in their operations.  The GEMI LWT was most recently updated in March 2015 to maintain alignment with the WBCSD Global Water Tool.

Since the GEMI LWT’s release in 2012, it has been used globally by thousands of organizations across sectors and has been referenced as a valuable resource for water risk assessment by a variety of independent organizations, such as the Alliance for Water Stewardship, CDP, CEO Water Mandate, Environmental Business Journal, SDG Compass and others.


GEMI is now taking on a new effort to review and update the GEMI Local Water Tool™(LWT) and GEMI Local Water Tool™ for Oil & Gas to:

  • incorporate consideration of climate adaptation in the tool’s risk assessment process through addition of a new module within the tool
  • provide updated links within the tool to credible and recent local water data
  • enhance alignment of the tool’s outputs with current water reporting requirements, where relevant,
  • ensure the tool is updated to the latest software standards, while enhancing its ease of use

An identical update will be performed for both the LWT and LWT for Oil & Gas, while maintaining existing sector-specific custom elements in the current oil & gas tool.

In order to develop the most comprehensive tool possible, GEMI is opening up the revision process to a wider set of companies and industry organizations. Those organizations joining the project will have influence in the tool’s design and scope, gain insight into how others are managing water risks and get to utilize the tool prior public release.

GEMI LWT project members will have a unique opportunity to identify and shape key enhancements to the existing tool in areas such as: the impact of climate-adaptation considerations in water risk assessment, the use of water risk assessment outputs for current and expected corporate water reporting requirements and, linkages to new/enhanced water datasets. Those organizations participating in this collaborative effort will be recognized during the development and release of the new tool.

Project Tasks, Budget and Schedule

The following tasks are planned for revision and expansion of the GEMI Local Water Tool (LWT).  At the beginning of the project, ideas for revisions and updates of the current GEMI tools will be sought from the project working group (LWT Project Members).

Project Tasks

Task 1: Finalize Project Work Plan.

  • Gather input from group of representative LWT users for the purpose of understanding the pros and cons of the existing LWT tool, what works and what needs to be addressed, suggested improvements and ways to potentially simplify the process.

Deliverable: Final Project Work Plan

Task 2: Refresh and Expand the Local Water Tool Framework, Content and Functionality

  • A one-day Framing Workshop will be held to review and enhance the design of the LWT 2.0 structure, functionalities, and outputs. Review climate change risks and define the resources that the collective group feels need to be considered for use as a link to help assess current and forecasted risks.

Deliverable: Memorandum documenting the outcomes of the Framing Workshop.

Task 3: Create Draft LWT 2.0, Review with Project Members and Revise based on member feedback

  • Create Draft LWT: A draft 2.0 version of the LWT will be created based on the existing GEMI LWT and the results of the Framing Workshop.

Deliverable: Draft LWT 2.0 architectural framework

  • Review Teleconference: A 90-minute teleconference will be held with the Project Members to review the draft LWT 2.0.

Deliverable: Memorandum documenting the outcomes of the LWT Review.

  • Revise Draft LWT: The Draft LWT 2.0 will be revised based on the Review call and an identical update will be made to the LWT oil & gas version to align with the revision.

Deliverable: LWT 2.0 ready for Pilot Testing

Task 4: Pilot Test LWT 2.0

  • A Pilot Tester Kickoff Teleconference will be held with LWT Project Members to provide instructions for using the tool. Technical support will be provided to pilot testers if needed.
  • A 90-minute Pilot Testers Review Teleconference will be held to review lessons learned and revise the tool

Deliverable: Memorandum documenting the outcomes of the Pilot Testers teleconference.

Task 5: Finalize LWT: General Version and Oil/Gas Sector Version.

Deliverable: Final Local Water Tools: General and Oil/Gas Version 2.0 ready for publication online.

Project Schedule

Date Task
September 2018 Confirmation of Project Participants and Finalize Project Funding.

Issue Invoices to Committed Participants.

October – December 2018 Task 1: Finalize Project Work Plan


January – March 2019 Task 2: Refresh and Expand the Local Water Tool Framework, Content and Functionality
April – June 2019 Task 3: Create Draft LWT 2.0, Review with Project Members and Revise based on member feedback
July – September 2019 Task 4: Pilot Test LWT 2.0
October 2019 Task 5: Finalize LWT: General Version and Oil/Gas Sector Version

Project Budget

This project will be completed at a total cost of $250,000, inclusive of expenses and GEMI administrative costs. This estimated cost assumes that GEMI will provide organizational support for logistics and meeting scheduling.  Meeting locations are assumed to be in the United States.

Funding Approach

GEMI is seeking to form a cross-industry coalition of companies and industry trade associations interested in water risk assessment and to raise funding from participating organizations to support this project. The total budget would be divided between interested participants. This cost-shared model allows project partners to help shape a new tool at a much lower cost than commissioning such a project individually, while also learning from peers from across sectors. GEMI is seeking a commitment of interest by September 15, 2018 with payment due by January 15, 2019.


GEMI will partner on this project with a team from Gannett Fleming, Inc., led by Mark D. Johnson, Senior Vice President, Director – Environmental Compliance & Remediation Services. For more than 100 years, Gannett Fleming has been a leader in global infrastructure solutions with a focus on planning, design, technology, and construction management services for a diverse array of markets and disciplines. Partnering with the GEMI Water Sustainability Work Group, Gannett Fleming was the prime developer of GEMI’s Collecting the Drops: A Water Sustainability Planner tool. The web-based tool was tailored for facility managers or owners and guided them through the process of assessing water use and impacts from their operations, and this tool served as a model for the original GEMI LWT.


To learn more about participation in this project and the project commitment process please contact Kellen Mahoney at GEMI at

2019 Project Invitation – External Future Forces That Will ‘Disrupt’ the Business of Sustainability

What four or five external future forces are most likely to ‘disrupt’ the business of sustainability for companies, the industry, and society at large—thinking ten years ahead? 

In 2007, Institute for the Future created a 10-year custom forecast for GEMI focused on external future forces likely to disrupt sustainability. The forecast was quite accurate and it gave GEMI project members unusual foresight that contributed to their business strategy. Now, we are looking ten years ahead again at a very different future in a very different world. In this world, it is too late to have just a sustainability strategy. Now, companies must have a strategy that melds sustainability and business.

GEMI/IFTF 2007-2017 Sustainability Map

GEMI is seeking a commitment from organizations wishing to participate in and contribute to a new custom forecast that will point a ten-year lens on external future forces—including both threats and opportunities—that will disrupt sustainability, with a focus on business choices and business strategy.

The goal of the project is to use foresight to awaken, engage, and drive change in the present. Urgent future disruptions are looming and this project will provide the grounding to engage with and win through the most important external future forces.

This project will focus on this research question: Over the next ten years, what four or five external future forces are most likely to disrupt the business of sustainability for companies, the industry, and society at large?

We will focus in particular on the links to digital transformation and the impacts on the business of sustainability. This new forecast will help leaders glimpse and understand the future disruptions in the environment within which they will be required to win. It will help companies heighten their game, and it will give a rigorous, provocative futures perspective to inform business strategy.

GEMI’s goal is to raise funding for this project from a range of companies / organizations, all of whom are interested in successfully navigating the major future forces that will affect the business of sustainability over the next decade. This cost-shared model allows project partners to receive the map and presentation at a much lower cost than commissioning this foresight individually. Active GEMI member companies will be invited to participate at no additional cost.

The fee per partner company is $15,000 USD and GEMI’s goal is to secure commitments from a minimum of 10 organizations.

IFTF will develop a new custom forecast map for project partners in pdf form to allow partners to focus strategic conversations on the four or five most important external future forces. The 2007 map was a very accurate forecast, but as the speed of business has increased, maps like this are just too busy to engage many top executives. This map will be just as content rich, but more clear and actionable.

In addition to the map, IFTF will create an annotated PowerPoint presentation that summarizes the forecast in a form that can be used easily by the sponsor companies, even when IFTF is not present.

IFTF will offer presentations of the forecast at sponsor location at a cost depending on which staff members are involved in that presentation. The new custom forecast map will be available to project partners first, but then will be public after an agreed upon period.

The target kick off for this research project is January 15, 2019, with the final map and presentation delivered six months thereafter.

Please contact Steve Hellem at GEMI to learn more about this project and commitment process for participation in 2019.