Environmentalists Get Down to Earth

Jan 18, 2012

Here at RESOLVE we’ve been talking about a recent story (17 December 2011) in The New York Times  “Environmentalists Get Down to Earth” that talked about new leadership in the conservation movement and the evolution of environmental strategies.  Here’s what we’re thinking, read the article, what do you think?

“In “Environmentalists Get Down to Earth” we’re missing an opportunity.  Conflict and tension generate ink and can be useful but our new generation of environmental leaders is capable of doing more. First, they’ll need to foster hope that something concrete can be achieved. Hope inspires action. But it withers unless it is fed by concrete, achievable solutions. Therefore, second, they’ll design and apply pragmatic expertise.  This is the essential “back of the box” of brownies, the hard work of rolling up sleeves and engaging on the practical and policy details, referred to and then largely dismissed in the story. There is simply no substitute for the pragmatic application of expertise—whether it’s negotiating a policy agreement or designing new “green” technologies Third, they’ll build unexpected coalitions. They’ll walk in someone else’s shoes to find a way forward. Leaders in all sectors should resist the temptation dig in and out-shout the other side. In an era of political fragmentation it’s the art of collaborative problem solving that will be the true test of leadership on climate and other issues. Otherwise advocacy breeds isolation, gridlock and cynicism. Dig below the surface of any environmental achievement and you will find great collaborative leaders—whether they get public credit or not – because they are focused on solutions, working the “back of the box,” and building partnerships.  Advocacy without collaborative leadership and solutions breeds gridlock and cynicism. If you have doubts look at recent progress on food safety, so called “conflict minerals,” and preventing, reducing, and addressing past harms from exposure to chemicals to see this leadership at work today.”

Stephen D’Esposito, President, RESOLVE

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