How to Protect 30% of the Planet and Achieve Other Lofty Goals

In 2011, Colombia had greater rainfall in one month than it typically has in an entire year. The ensuant flooding from the Magdalena and Cauca rivers caused such horrific loss of life and damage that the government acted immediately to avoid a repeat occurrence. It earmarked a huge sum of money for “infrastructure investment” and invited ideas on how to spend it from a wide array of leaders, including me.

I flew down to meet the Minister of the Environment, prepared for an uphill battle as I sought to convince him of nature-based solutions. The first thing I noticed when…

Our topic this week: The compelling opportunity for CEOs to commit their organizations to a net-zero economy.

Encouraging news about business leaders addressing climate change and other environmental challenges has really surged over the past few months. More CEOs and prominent investors are stepping up and leading on the environmental front. This makes sense and is great news.

Larry Fink’s recent letter to CEOs — this year telling them to prepare a plan to be net-zero or suffer market consequences — was an especially high-profile and welcome shot across the bow. …

The Private Sector Can Make Them Better

The Quick Rundown:

Nature-based climate solutions are an increasingly utilized tool in the environmental arsenal. They have also generated a lot of debate. So this week, we’re doing a deep dive into NCS, making the case for why we need them to reach the critical goal of a net-zero economy — one that emits no more carbon dioxide than it removes from the atmosphere. We also look at how three major companies are playing the offset game and offer our ideas on how they can do better.

The Good, the Bad, the Buzz

Nature-based climate solutions (NCS) — initiatives to use nature for absorbing and storing…

You Need a Game Plan to Make a Real Difference

The Quick Rundown:

The Instigator primarily focuses on environmental strategies for organizations. But individuals are integral to our cause too. This week, we focus on personal strategies for achieving environmental progress.

2020 was a dismal year by most measures. And the first few weeks of 2021 haven’t been any better. But I’m an optimist and can’t help but see positive opportunities for environmental gains. I’m also pragmatic, and I know that nothing happens without a concerted effort and a detailed plan. So think of me as your coach. To win this game, we each need to develop and commit to…

An environmental journey, as told through books

The Quick Rundown:

Every day it seems more people want to join the environmental movement. This is great news. My advice? The journey of 1000 miles begins with a few good books. I note below those that had the biggest impact on my personal trajectory, and I hope you’ll share yours so we can all go further together.

A Humble Beginner (With a Lot to be Humble About)

When I joined the Nature Conservancy in 2008, I expected a steep learning curve. I had been working on environmental matters for a few years on Wall Street, so I wasn’t an absolute neophyte. But leading the world’s biggest conservation NGO would…

The Bezos Earth Fund May Be Just What NGOs Need to Reach the Next Level

The Quick Rundown:

The Instigator champions private sector environmental leadership. But we also believe that NGOs are critical players. For NGOs to achieve their full potential, they need two things. First, they need more and better funding. Otherwise, NGOs take the “lean and mean” concept too far. Second, NGOs need to offer greater disclosure so that their performance can be better understood. The Bezos Earth Fund can address both of these needs.

(Full disclosure: I served as CEO of The Nature Conservancy — an Earth Fund grantee — from 2008 to 2019.)

Last week, I wrote that I was excited…

What Environmental Philanthropists Can Learn From Wall Street Investors

The Quick Rundown:

The Instigator champions private sector-led environmental strategies. We also argue that better environmental outcomes are achieved when business collaborates with non-profit organizations. Environmental NGOs need to be well-funded to perform at the highest level. Let’s explore what philanthropists can learn from the way Wall Street investors allocate capital.

A couple of weeks ago, Jeff Bezos announced the first recipients from his eponymous Earth Fund. The grants totaled nearly $800 million distributed across 16 nonprofit groups, including The Nature Conservancy, which I once led. …

The Quick Rundown:

Patagonia is a case study that demonstrates two big things. First, smart and ambitious environmental initiatives pay off. And second, although it takes some creativity, courage, and hard work, most companies can do this.

When you’re in the conservation business, you can’t ignore money. Conservation is a capital intensive undertaking. Rather than ignore funding, you need to leverage it to your advantage.

Right after I joined The Nature Conservancy, we signed a deal to buy some 300,000 acres of pristine land in Montana. It was a fantastic deal. The land was gorgeous. All of the species that…

The Quick Rundown:

Companies and investors are starting to make big things happen — and fast — to address the climate challenge. The private sector is investing in climate solutions, mobilizing talent, innovating, committing to GHG emission reductions, and better climate disclosure. This is just what we need for climate progress. But one large, talented and influential sector can and should be doing more: private equity.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

As my fellow Dale Carnegie acolytes know, salesmanship is a key success factor for building a bigger environmental coalition. More on that in a moment. …

The Quick Rundown.

It’s been a tough week. We could all use some leadership right now. The Instigator usually focuses on organizational strategies — how companies, investors, and NGOs can tackle environmental challenges. But personal strategies matter too. To achieve the change we seek, we need more people across society to step up, get outside their silos, think big, and devise personal engagement plans that will work in the real world. The best way to do this is to start now, play to your strengths, and find ways to reinvent yourself.

Think Big

In 2016, I was speaking in front…

Mark Tercek

Former CEO of The Nature Conservancy CEO. “Nature’s Fortune” author. Family man, yogi, ice climber, vegan.

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