Uniting for Conservation

Written by Carrie Krueger, Director of Marketing, The Nature Conservancy in Washington
Photographed by Barbie Hull, Northwest Photographer

What do you get when you bring together some of the brightest minds in the world, along with some of the most passionate and committed advocates, all focused on solutions for people and nature?

The Nature Conservancy’s global board including leaders across a multitude of industries around the globe came to Seattle for their quarterly board meeting this month. Also on hand were our lead scientists and program leads, all rallied around finding solutions to our planet’s biggest challenges.

Beyond convening to discuss issues, the group got a firsthand look at some of the work happening in Washington. Along Seattle’s waterfront they learned about issues facing the ocean and the fishing industry.  In Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood they toured green solutions being used to help our rapidly growing urban areas manage density with natural infrastructure and by keeping a strong connection to nature.

On the final night the group gathered under the shadow of the Space Needle for dinner at the Chihuly Garden and Glass.  U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, who represents Washington state, welcomed the group with praise for the work The Nature Conservancy is doing in Washington, around the nation and around the world. She also spoke of the many pressing conservation issues we face and the need to work together to protect the environment.  The group enthusiastically applauded Senator Cantwell’s leadership in renewing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a vital program for protecting our nation’s lands and waters.

A diverse panel was asked to each share one bold solution to a challenging environmental issue.  Pascal Mittermaier who leads TNC’s Resilient Cities program suggested escalating small pilot projects in cities to the scope of precincts as a way of accelerating impact.  Seema Paul, Managing Director of The Conservancy’s India program suggested tapping into the spiritual connection between the Ganges River and the people of India as a way of galvanizing support.  And Peter Kareiva, chair of The Conservancy’s Science Cabinet, threw out tapping into the power of Hollywood as his big idea, saying the voices of stars could advance support for conservation.

The discussion that followed was so stimulating that people continued to linger and hash through issues and solutions long after the evening wound down. While the problems we tackle are large, the innovation, science and determination to solve them is even bigger.  The payoff for bringing together so many big thinkers will be solutions in the years to come.