** UPDATE: September 2010 **
CI’s Asia-Pacific Business & Sustainability Council (APBSC) has become a key platform for corporate engagement spearheaded by our new regional hub in Singapore.
We have recently convened two key working groups under the auspices of the APBSC. The first group is focused on the regional health and environmental impacts -- for instance air pollution in Singapore -- resulting from tropical deforestation in Indonesia. An initial meeting of the group, held in Riau Province in central Sumatra, brought together stakeholders from the Indonesian government, NGOs, academia and corporations.
The second APBSC working group is made up of several major international companies in the agriculture and food industries, specifically Monsanto, Walmart Asia, Syngenta, McDonald’s and Cargill. An initial meeting of the group featured case study examples from several corporate attendees on local food security issues, and the participants agreed to meet again to design a joint project in the Asia-Pacific region.
The full APBSC membership met on September 14-15, 2010, in Shanghai, China, to discuss strategies for "Raising the Profile of Sustainability in Asia Pacific." Attendees included a number of our new corporate partners in the region such as Giti Tire, Medco, Wilmar and Bursa Malaysia, along with long standing partners such as Starbucks, Walmart and Disney.
A blue-ribbon keynote panel featured the Indonesian Trade Minister, the Vice-Mayor of Shanghai, the Deputy Director General of the China State Forestry Administration, Peter Seligmann and CI Board member Enki Tan. Other expert panels throughout the meeting addressed freshwater conservation, forest conservation, and corporate sustainability metrics.
The success of CI’s new mission and strategic direction — safeguarding nature for the well-being of people everywhere — will depend in part on mobilizing private sector ingenuity and resources on behalf of healthy ecosystems.
A major component of that effort is the expansion of CI’s corporate engagement on an international scale.
A Hub for Engagement
In October 2009, CI launched Conservation International Singapore Ltd. as an affiliate office established as a hub for CI efforts in the Asia-Pacific region, with an initial focus on markets, policy, and environmental leadership in business. CELB also established a new Asia-Pacific Business & Sustainability Council, which held its first meeting March 2-3, 2010, in Singapore.
Formerly known as the Business & Biodiversity Council, the Business & Sustainability Council (BSC) changed its name to better reflect CI’s new mission, and to engage a broader spectrum of corporate participation. The first Asia-Pacific BSC meeting was hosted by Wilmar International, a leading Asian agribusiness that employs over 70,000 people in the region. Wilmar, Walmart Asia, Medco Group, and Monsanto are the council’s founding members. Companies in attendance at the meeting included Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, Bank of America, Haworth, Starbucks, HSBC, and ICF International. Following the meeting, Giti Tire confirmed it would become the fifth member of the Council.
The meeting included working sessions on pressing topics in regional business sustainability including freshwater, land use, employee engagement, sustainable supply chains, and corporate climate strategies. CI scientists and experts served as panelists, moderators, and hosts for the event. Former Ambassador and Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School at the National University of Singapore Kishore Mahbubani kicked off the meeting with a call to action, while the CEO of the National Environmental Agency, Mr. Andrew Tan, provided an evening key note address.
“CI has a strong tradition of engaging the private sector in meaningful conservation activities,” said Landy Eng, CI Singapore Managing Director. “The new Asia-Pacific Business & Sustainability Council will capitalize on the growing importance that regional businesses are placing on the environment.”
CI has also recently opened its first office in Brussels, called Conservation International Europe. This effort led by CI’s Center for Conservation and Governments (CCG) aims to accelerate CI’s policy engagement with the European Union — a critical contribution to achieving CI’s new mission. CI reinforces an engagement in Europe which has already seen significant results over the last few years, particularly through meaningful partnerships with the governments of France and Germany.
CELB has also appointed a new Director for Corporate Relations in Europe, Claire Blenkinsop, based near Geneva. This new position is responsible for engaging directly with European corporate leaders to promote CI and its programs worldwide. Claire will help CI meet its corporate contribution goals and establish mutually beneficial, long-term relationships with leading businesses. She will coordinate negotiations of corporate partner agreements in program areas including climate leadership and forest carbon, field conservation projects, business tools for conservation, joint communications initiatives, involvement in leadership forums and sponsorship opportunities.
Claire is also working closely with the new CI Europe office to ensure coordination in European communications and relationship-building efforts.