WMF Sustainability Impact Statement - December 2019


We want to share an update on what we’ve been working on, over the last six months or so, regarding the Wikimedia Foundation and our overall environmental sustainability efforts.

In Q1 FY19/20, our focus was on the release of the Foundation’s first Sustainability assessment and carbon footprint report [1] at Wikimania [2], publishing a supporting blog post [3], and participation in the world-wide Digital Climate Strike [4].

After the release of the assessment and carbon footprint report in August 2019, there was significant feedback [5][6] from the Community to provide more information and desiring of a clear understanding of the Foundation’s resource consumption and projected improvements (including a blog post [7] on Wikimedia Space by Gnom).

In Q2, we leveraged budget underrun to gain more insight from Strategic Sustainability Consulting [8] that aided in the development of an Impact Statement, which consists of a mission statement, framework, strategic roadmap, and metrics. We also assembled a team of eco-focused staff, that partnered in the creation of the impact statement and identification of future Sustainability project ideas.

The activities over the last few months have put the initial “stake in the ground” for the Foundation’s environmentally conscious path forward and the assessments were pivotal in providing a baseline for our carbon footprint.

In light of this, we have posted the Wikimedia Foundation Impact Statement on Commons [9] and Meta [10]. Our next steps will be to host a session at the Foundation’s internal All Hands 2020 event to reflect on where we are, how we can help, and solicit project ideas on long lasting and resource saving initiatives.

Cheers and happy holidays to all!

Lydia Hamilton and Deb Tankersley

[1] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wikimedia_Foundation_Sustainability_Assessment_and_Carbon_Footprint.pdf
[2] https://wikimania.wikimedia.org/wiki/2019:Environmental_sustainability/Wikimedia_Foundation:_What_we've_learned_about_environmental_sustainability
[3] https://wikimediafoundation.org/news/2019/09/19/how-the-wikimedia-foundation-is-making-efforts-to-go-green/
[4] https://globalclimatestrike.net/
[5] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:Sustainability
[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2019-09-30/News_from_the_WMF
[7] https://space.wmflabs.org/2019/11/27/towards-a-more-sustainable-wikimedia-movement/
[8] http://www.sustainabilityconsulting.com/
[9] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WMF_Sustainability_Impact_Statement_2019.pdf
[10] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Sustainability


Hi @LHamilton_WMF and @DTankersley_WMF, thank you for this update! I’ll respond with a few comments and follow-up questions:

  • With the new mission statement very much drawing on the 2017 board resolution, should we not try to move towards a further and more concrete commitment in terms of environmental sustainability? I am thinking of for-profit companies such as Microsoft that are now even committing to becoming carbon-negative and setting out clear timeframes.

  • In the ‘operations’ section of the strategic roadmap, you wrote that we are planning to ‘minimize our carbon footprint’ by ‘identify[ing] carbon-reduction opportunities’. Can we really not go beyond that and commit to something tangible?

  • As you can imagine, I am very excited about the idea of a ‘sustainability consortium’ consisting of WMF staff and community members as proposed in the mission statement. Similarly, the Wikimedians for Sustainable Development will be interested in how the Wikimedia Foundation can ‘support community efforts in the sustainability space’, as proposed in the ‘engagement section’ of the strategic roadmap. When will these projects start, and how can we be a part in them?

  • What do you mean by ‘personal investment’ in the ‘culture’ section of the strategic roadmap?

  • Looking at the last point in the ‘engagement’ section of the strategic roadmap, shouldn’t we share our lessons learned beyond just the community?

  • Finally, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll create a wiki version of the impact statement from the PDF.

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