The nation's capitol was a perfect backdrop for such an important topic - the get together coincided with the blooming of DC's famous cherry blossom trees - a gift from Japan when the capitol was still a small city representing a new country.
The discussions included companies, researchers and NGO's alike and conversations centered on deforestation and what to do about it. I was honored to share the stage with Christine Riley Miller, senior director, corporate social responsibility, Dunkin' Brands; Corey Brinkema, president, Forest Stewardship Council and Thomas Mitchell, managing director, Cambridge Associates. Our talk, moderated by Mongabay.comfounder Rhett Butler, centered aroundcommunicating our stories of sustainability -- both the victories as well as challenges.
It was truly a unique opportunity to share ideas and best practices around not only efforts to be zero-deforestation free, but also to reforest areas as well. It was exciting to describe Asia Pulp and Paper's two major restoration projects concurrently ongoing - one, Belantara is a million hectare forest protection effort which APP is incubating, underwriting and launching. The other is a peatland restoration effortwhich entails flooding thousands of hectares of peatland, to eventually restore it to the nutrient-rich, carbon-eating terra-firma.
Others on the panel talked about their own unique efforts in protecting forests -- It was through that part of the discussion that we all shared the importance of collaboration. - be it through their own efforts, a corporate partner, a government agency or NGO. Working together and in tandem with one another was a key agreement - nobody can go it alone on such critical sustainability efforts –especially on a global scale.
As we all know, you can't be successful without failing a time or two. Though many at the conference had plenty of both to discuss, it sure was more fun talking about the successes!