With important conservation decisions being made both out in the field and in the boardroom, DU hosted the first Ecoservices and Business Strategy Forum recently in Chicago. Titled "Ecopraxes," the meeting brought together corporate executives, conservation group representatives, local government, agriculture and ecosystem services market leaders to share their experiences and recommendations relating to ecosystem services valuation and developing ecosystem market projects.
The keynote address was presented by Mark Rey, Former Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment. Rey set the stage by describing the policy environment in which corporations are developing sustainability strategies.
Contributors included Doug Oberhelman, CEO elect of Caterpillar; Geoff Kneen, Vice President at Bayer CropScience; and Rick Merdan, Marketing Strategy Manager at NewPage Corp. John Tomke, President of Ducks Unlimited de Mexico and business leader in his own right, moderated the discussion that kept guests at the prestigious Chicago Club engaged and asking questions regarding their own positions in a rapidly changing environment.
Companies depend on the assets that healthy and diverse ecosystems provide such as freshwater supply, water purification, climate regulation, pollination, flood mitigation and storage, and biodiversity. Degradation of these "ecosystem assets," can threaten overall corporate performance while creating entirely new business opportunities and industries. Ducks Unlimited is engaging business, government and agriculture in a conversation about best practices and sustainability for everyone.
Perhaps the most striking takeaway from the evening was that all of these corporations, and others in the audience, have recognized that aggressive exploration of emerging markets and sustainability strategies are important for profit in many ways. For instance, not only does the potential for being a leader in carbon sequestration add to the bottom line, but end users are demanding that suppliers be as "green" as possible. Practices that work well for ducks can also be an effective marketing tool.