While many people associate October 31st with Halloween, this year that date also marks when the world’s population is estimated to hit seven billion. Only four short decades later, the population is expected to reach over nine billion. This 30 percent boom in population has many implications, particularly for conservation, by doubling the demand for energy, food and water. To sustain Earth’s increasing population, it is essential to recognize the direct connection between nature conservation and national, economic and energy security.
With the fall meeting of CI’s Business & Sustainability Council hosted by Marriott International in Arlington, VA — inside the Beltway, as they say — Council members and guests focused on understanding how current policy trends are creating opportunities for, or obstacles to, corporate sustainability efforts.
A welcome reception took place at CI headquarters on October 18, with keynote remarks presented by Yvo de Boer, Special Global Advisor on Climate Change and Sustainability for KPMG LLP, and former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate change.
Peter Seligmann, CI's Chairman & CEO, began the meeting with the message that political leadership and corporate sustainability efforts are necessary for ushering in new practices that are multidisciplinary in understanding and protecting ecosystem functions. Business has a critical role to play in ensuring that vital natural resources are protected, and that ecosystems that supply us with essential goods and services — such as fresh water and food — are responsibly and sustainably cared for. Furthermore, domestic and international environmental policy will play a key role in helping to catalyze healthy and sustainable economies.
Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) served as the opening keynote speaker and spoke about the role of the U.S. Congressional International Conservation Caucus (ICC). The ICC is the second largest caucus in Congress and serves as a forum for Members who understand the importance of international conservation and share an interest in advancing these issues. Senator Udall also stressed the importance of corporate sustainability and corporate support for conservation legislation.
Celeste Connors, Director of Environmental Affairs for the National Security Council, and Shalini Vajjhala, Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of International Affairs with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, provided an administration update and discussed the U.S. Global Development Policy. This policy is the first of its kind by a U.S. administration and focuses on sustainable development with an impact on food security, global health and global climate change.
Council members and guests also explored current and developing public-private partnership models in the US, EU and emerging markets, such as Indonesia, Mexico and Brazil. Case studies on innovative public-private partnership models were provided by Dr. Maura O’Neill, Chief Innovation Officer for USAID, who gave an overview on the Sustainable Landscape Partnership, and Dr. Gerhard Dieterle, Forests Advisor of Agriculture and Rural Development for the World Bank, who spoke about the Forest Investment Program.
The closing keynote speaker, Karen Alderman Harbert, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, discussed challenges and opportunities for meeting society’s future energy needs in an environmentally responsible manner.
Nature provides fundamental resources — a stable climate, fresh water, healthy oceans and reliable food — and the ability for the world’s population to function as it grows is threatened if sustainability is not understood and addressed through both policy and corporate responsibility.