State of Corporate Conservation 2023: The Journey Towards Nature Positivity

As the only international NGO focused exclusively on enabling private sector action for nature, WHC has convened professionals working at the intersection of business and nature since 1990. This post is a transcript of WHC President Margaret O’Gorman’s 2023 State of Corporate Conservation speech, presented in Baltimore at the 2023 WHC Conservation Conference on June 20, 2023.

Good afternoon — it’s great to see everyone here today eager to learn, network and celebrate. We’ve curated a great conference for you over the next few days, and we know that you’re going to enjoy yourselves and leave here inspired to act for nature wherever you can.

It’s always a privilege to stand before this conference, to recognize your efforts and to provide some insights into the various aspects of our world, from what’s happening on the global stage to what’s happening in our own communities and workplaces. And there is a lot happening and changing. But while our world changes, the reason we gather remains constant. The reason we gather remains to celebrate conservation and ecological stewardship efforts — whether the completion of a nature restoration project, the success of a new pollinator meadow, adoption of a new corporate biodiversity ambition or interesting and uplifting engagements with communities around environmental education or STEM.

And the reason we do the work remains unchanged: Nature needs our help, and today, nature needs our help more than ever before. I don’t want to start our conference on a down note, but a recent report from the WWF tells us that there has been a 69% average decline in wildlife populations since 1970. This is my lifetime — an average 69% decline in populations of monitored species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish since I’ve been born. It’s very hard to conceptualize a loss of this scale, and it’s even more difficult to conjure a picture of projected future losses. In monetary terms, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, the picture is $577 billion at risk from the loss of pollinators alone. This is more than the combined value of the market cap of Toyota, Bayer, WM and Shell. That loss would be a massive hit to the global economy. But the bigger picture is a more emotional loss, seen and heard in the greying and quietening of our world as the colors and sounds of nature become hushed and muted. This loss means we won’t be handing the same vibrant planet we inherited to the generations who are not yet born.

The difficulty of conceptualizing this loss is one of the contributing factors to the fact that the nature crisis has been a lagging global concern when it should be, in my opinion, seen as important — if not more so — than the climate crisis. The difficulty in conceptualizing the loss, in measuring the loss and in disclosing the impacts of the loss, has delayed a much-needed consensus on how we should talk about it and how we should set aspirations or ambitions to address it. We tried on “no net loss/net positive impact” for a while but that didn’t fit. We’ve played with the mitigation hierarchy, but that is just an express lane to offsets. We’ve had the trillion-tree goal and the 30 by 30 initiative, but they don’t have a wide enough remit, excluding entire species and ecosystems. But a global goal has finally been determined, and that goal is to be nature positive by 2030.

So what does nature positive actually mean? The term is designed to be broad, but we’re all in agreement that nature positive means three things — recognizing the many values of nature, reversing the loss of biodiversity and moving towards nature recovery and regeneration. These are actions that most everyone at this conference are taking at the moment. These are actions that we are here to celebrate today and tomorrow.

Basically, nature positive is biodiversity’s net zero with a critical difference: While net zero is a destination, nature positive is a journey. No entity can ever claim to be “nature positive.” Whether an NGO, government agency, private citizen or private sector, no enterprises can claim with 100% certainty to be nature positive. But all can claim to be — and should be — on a journey towards nature positivity.

And the beauty of this approach is that you can take this journey in different ways, just like we all arrived here today along routes and using different forms of transportation and from different directions.

The private sector will take this journey in different ways and from different starting points. We know that. We at WHC have a deep understanding from working in this space for 35 years, and we know that there is no single defined route for a nature journey. We know that it’s not always straight, it’s not always moving in the right direction and there may be twists and turns on the way. We know that companies start their nature journeys in different places — sometimes at operations when EHS compliance on environmental regulations become beyond compliance for ecological reasons, sometimes at the corporate office when investors and rating agencies ask interesting questions.

We know that some companies get on the highway and speed towards their destinations on well-resourced roads, while others may follow the scenic route, take the U-turns and get diverted by every roadside attraction. Many run out of gas…repeatedly.

But conformity is not the most important aspect of this journey; being on the journey is what’s essential. We currently work with an alliance of life sciences companies to help engage the companies and their suppliers with nature, and each of them is starting in a different place and moving at different speeds.

Where do you think you are on your nature journey, and what type of road are you taking?  Is it swift and straight, slow and sinewy — or are you more like Ted Lasso at the moment, who says about traveling with Robert Frost, “It could go either way…”

The concept of nature positivity really came to the fore this past year, in advance of an important meeting that happened in Montreal in December. Last December saw one of the biggest gatherings for biodiversity on the planet at the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD COP15), when delegations from more than 190 countries gathered with numerous observer delegations from across the world to agree on a new plan to turn the tide on the loss of nature. The meeting was two years late thanks to the global pandemic, and the sense of urgency was palpable as delegates gathered for long hours and fractious discussions to negotiate the wording for what would become the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which was adopted by the Convention delegates in late December. The framework sets out an ambitious pathway to reach the global vision of a world living in harmony with nature by 2050. It’s not as ambitious as nature positive by 2030, but what international treaty could ever be?

In 2016, I attended COP13 as part of the WHC delegation of two people. At COP15, WHC had a delegation of 15 people, including WHC members Covia, GM and others. At COP13, the business representation was small — Toyota and GM were present, and CEMEX led the way on a global Business and Biodiversity pledge. In Montreal, business was a significant segment of the meeting, and many voices from business were showcased talking about nature-positive ambitions and actions. And in the resulting global biodiversity framework, a specific target for business was agreed upon — the first time there is a role for business in this global convention.

The Business for Nature coalition, of which WHC is a partner, led the campaign to make it mandatory for business to report their nature-related risks, and indeed, Target 15 of the Global Biodiversity Framework asks that large and multinational businesses do just that and that the parties to the convention, the governments, support policy measures to encourage and enable business to engage with this target — which, yes, asks for reporting, but also looks for companies to act to reduce negative impacts and increase positive ones.

I have to clarify that the U.S. is not a party to the convention, but that matters little in these days of the global economy and the multinational companies many of you work for or the international supply chains you are all part of. Target 15 and supporting regulations will find its way to you. To help us understand more about Target 15 and the Global Biodiversity Framework, we have two sessions tomorrow — one looking at the global stage for biodiversity and another about how companies can build an ESG strategy that includes biodiversity.

While much of the attention on Target 15 focuses on reporting and disclosures, we here today are already achieving towards the part of Target 15 that seeks to increase business’s positive impacts on nature. We are so far into this aspect of Target 15 that we’re presenting 23 awards for outstanding positive impacts on nature over the next two days. Congratulations to the award winners announced this morning, and good luck to the nominees for the rest of this meeting.

So what does all this mean? This Global Biodiversity Framework, Target 15 and the infrastructure being developed to support it and other evolving initiatives seeking to drive a better business relationship with nature?

For one thing, it means that for the last year or so, I’ve had a serious case of the “told you so’s” as developments on the global, regional and national scales from think tanks and academics have validated the work that we have all been doing for the last 35 years enabling the private sector to act for nature.

What it also means is that finance and standards bodies are paying attention. Asset managers launched nine new biodiversity funds in 2022. Last year, the first biodiversity credits were sold, priced at $32 an acre. This year, for the first time, a company was excluded from an investment fund on the basis of biodiversity. CERES, the sustainable investing advocacy group, launched Nature 100 to mobilize investors to take actions to reduce nature loss and accelerate nature recovery.

ISO is issuing a standard in the field of biodiversity to develop principles, framework, requirements, guidance and supporting tools in a holistic and global approach for all organizations.

And to support all of this, there are more corporate positions with the title “Manager, Nature” that sit in sustainability offices. This particular fact impacted us this past year when one of our own, Josiane Bonneau, who many of you know, took her many talents to take a position of Manager, Nature at Freeport-McMoRan. We miss her a lot!

So: Bottom line, what does it all mean?

I think it means we should retire, once and for all, a question I am amazed still gets asked today. Given where we are on our nature journey, I am amazed that I still get asked for the business case for nature. I still get asked what the ROI on acting for nature is. I get asked why time and resources should be expended on biodiversity or other nature-based efforts.

When I’m asked the question today — “What’s the business case for nature? Why should business care about nature?” — I answer in three ways. The first and simplest answer to me is that we need nature for life, and if that’s not enough, my second answer is that there can be no business without nature. Just like businesses depend on financial capital to thrive, they also depend on natural capital to survive. If those two reasons are not enough, my third answer is that soon this question will be moot as business will be compelled to care about nature to comply with a suite of regulations and policies being developed to support the implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework.

I get it — the need to ask the question. I understand why, just 10 years ago, we had to wrap biodiversity and nature into a business case. It was only seven years ago that the World Economic Forum started to talk about biodiversity collapse as a significant risk to the global economy. It was only last year that business found a place in the global treaty for biodiversity, and only this year are frameworks like the Task Force for Nature Related Financial Disclosures and others emerging to support business engagement.

The business case for nature has been made. So let’s agree that we don’t need to ask anymore. The evidence is vast and beyond reproach. If anyone today is still asking what the business case for nature is, it’s not because they don’t know. It’s because they don’t want to know.

And this growing awareness is not just about the perils to nature; it’s also about the power of nature. Here in the U.S., realizations about the power of nature to alleviate some societal issues is taking root. The Inflation Reduction Act bill set aside billions of dollars to fight social inequities with nature-based solutions; e.g., the urban and community forestry program in the USFS has an annual appropriation of $32 million, and this year received an increase to $40 million — which is great, but it also received $1.5 billion in one-off funding to increase the health of our national urban forest and bring urban forestry benefits to the communities that bear an unfair burden of environmental impacts like urban heat islands, air pollution and even light and noise pollution. The EPA included nature-based solutions as an approved methodology in its most recent Pollution Prevention program, and last year the administration released a “Roadmap for Nature-Based Solutions to Fight Climate Change, Strengthen Communities, and Support Local Economies,” while this year, the “Campaign for Environmental Justice” was launched at the 21st Urban Waters Partnership meeting, showing how much nature is being deployed to improve communities, lives and livelihoods.

It’s all happening for nature right now. Governments, companies, banks and NGOs are all at the starting line ready to take the nature-positive journey. And we here in this room are ready for it. We were born ready for this, and we’re looking forward to doing more, especially at the intersection of business, nature and community.

Across our 35-year history, WHC has worked with members where they work, and this sometimes means where communities have suffered impact from existing and legacy operations. Our newly named Social Impact team, led by Daniel Goldfarb, who is celebrating his 20th year at WHC this year — can we hear it for Daniel’s two-decade commitment to the cause of corporate and community conservation? Daniel and his team has been working in these places for two decades, and in the last two months alone, have put in long hours and hectic days delivering nature to communities in Detroit, Chicago and northwest Indiana and almost 500 trees in the last few weeks alone in Detroit. This small but mighty team has convened companies to cross their fence lines and engage with the communities that host them, creating new relationships and helping companies deliver community benefits that are real, measurable and sustainable — and focused on the places where they are most needed.

The Social Impact team recently carried out some spatial analysis and found that of 528 certified programs in the USA, 70% lie within five miles of an overburdened community. This is a really interesting finding for WHC and its members because it shows that we are making a difference where it is needed and we have the power to make an even bigger difference to deploy nature to engineer resilience to the impacts of climate change, to make places where people can thrive and deliver healthy habitats for plants and animals to share space with us. We in this room have the ability to wield nature and deploy its power in the places that need it most.

We’re here to celebrate these places today and tomorrow as we recognize every conservation project that has made a difference and met requirements for certification. In 2022, we received applications from 283 unique programs, of which 280 were successful. Of the 280 successful applications, 58 received certification at the gold level, indicating that they are truly outstanding, and 54 were recognized at the silver level. We had 41 new programs seeking certification including certifications from new companies like Allegion, Blue Triton Brands, Grupo Mexico, Lannon Stone Products, Molex and others.

We worked with 38 reviewers in 2022, with each program receiving two reviews to ensure consistency of scoring, and these reviewers look at each program through its constituent projects. They reviewed 364 habitat projects, 387 species projects and 183 education projects. The top themes continue to be Grassland, Landscaped and Wetlands habitat projects, Avian and Pollinator species projects and Awareness and Community engagement in our education projects. We continue to see strong representation in our Other category for Species of Concern and Green Infrastructure projects. Let’s celebrate all of our certified programs with a round of applause for everyone who submitted an application in 2022. Thank you for your hard work.

This year, we had a series of really interesting projects from Mexico, like Vulcan Material’s SAC-TUN site’s program in the Yucatan Peninsula in Quintana Roo, Mexico. This program focuses on collecting data to better understand the conservation needs and status of threatened and endangered species such as the jaguar, Nassau grouper and Caribbean spiny lobster. The site, which I visited many years ago, contains over 1,000 hectares of forests and is home to at least 130 species of plants and 384 vertebrates, including 21 that are endemic to Mexico. In addition, the team conducts conservation activities in Ejido Manuel Antonio Ay. The project is part of Vulcan’s long-term environmental strategy, to restore exploited lands, reduce the impact of new operations and position the company as a leader in the conservation of the Mesoamerican Reef, the second most important coral reef on the planet.

Another partner in Mexico, the Earth Lab, is also working with ejido communities and received certification for a jaguar conservation program in Ejido Sisal, which has almost 3,000 hectares under management for this iconic species as well as managing forests and intertidal zones.

Another iconic species in Mexico and the U.S. that came to our attention this year is the Mexican grey wolf. When the Mexican grey wolf was declared functionally extinct in the wild in 1976 and officially listed under the Endangered Species Act, the United States and Mexico collaborated to capture all Mexican grey wolves remaining in the wild to prevent their extinction. Five wild Mexican wolves were captured alive in Mexico from 1977 to 1980 and used to start a captive breeding program. After the Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan was implemented, wolves were reintroduced into recovery areas in Arizona and New Mexico beginning in 1998 in order to recolonize the animals’ historical range. From those five wolves captured in the late 70s, there are now 241 wild Mexican wolves in the U.S. and 45 in Mexico.

This year, WHC certified Grupo México’s grey wolf rehabilitation program located in the Buenavista del Cobre Wildlife Conservation Management Unit in Sonora, Mexico. Since 2013, Buenavista del Cobre joined as one location of a large network of places that work together to help rehabilitate and ultimately re-release the Mexican grey wolves which are assigned every year by the Binational Committee that oversees the recovery effort. Fifty-nine wolves have been cared for, and 23 wolves have been born at UMA Buenavista del Cobre. Fifty percent of the Mexican wolves that have been released into the wild in Mexico come from this program.

This program is an excellent example that really captures collaboration from start to finish, first between the U.S. and Mexican governments to start this rehabilitation program in the late 1970s, then between Grupo México, NGOs and government to implement a rehabilitation programs, and finally WHC providing recognition by certifying those efforts of Grupo México.

It’s also an example of how nature positive is journey across time and space. It’s an example of all the great things we are here in Baltimore to celebrate. And we’ll also be celebrating Baltimore while we are here this week. As some of you know, Baltimore was once the permanent location of our conference. This is our first time back here since 2020, and our first time during the summer, so long-term conference attendees will experience a different city from when our conference was in November.

This year, we will have a mainstage panel about conservation collaborations in Baltimore, where we’ll hear about the efforts of the National Aquarium to connect with communities; the challenges of creating an urban wood economy; the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, which has been taking the measure of Baltimore’s biodiversity since 1989; and we’ll learn about Mr. Trash Wheel, the iconic trash interceptor in the inner harbor.

In addition, we will celebrate Baltimore’s vibrant makers’ community with our second-annual Makers’ Pavilion, where you can meet local craftspeople and buy local, independently made gifts. The Makers’ Pavilion will be open from 10:00 a.m. tomorrow. I am really looking forward to it — all proceeds from the Makers’ Pavilion go to the makers themselves.

For those of you who are here for the first time, please enjoy Baltimore and for long-time attendees, please enjoy Baltimore in the summer. And speaking of enjoyment, please remember that enjoyment of our awards dinner is on you and the spirit you bring to it. I know some of you already have plans and props to make sure you’re seen at the dinner. I invite you all to bring your best team spirit and celebrate corporate conservation and each other.

I’d like to acknowledge the hard work of our communications team, who produced the next two days of content. This team is also responsible for all our non-conference content, our webinars and white papers. WHC webinars are all available for free. Besides our 15 live webinars a year, we offer a library of over 100 webinars on a wide variety of nature-based topics to educate and inspire.

Our most popular webinar in the past year was “Building Insect Hotels: Enhancing Hospitality for Bugs, Bees and Beetles,” where we announced our 2nd Insect Hotel Challenge. If you haven’t viewed the webinar yet, it’s on our website, and the deadline to submit your bug hotel for consideration is September 1, so there’s still a lot of time to start building your hotels.

We also released three very popular white papers this year. One on STEM education, one on how to develop robust corporate-community relations and a more technical paper on invasive species. All our generous sponsors for webinars and white papers allow us to deliver quality content to you.

This year we must celebrate some board members who cycled off our board in recent months. Our fabulous chair Sheryl Telford retired from Chemours, long-time board member John Hay of CRH retired from the board, and extremely long-time board member Greg Cekander retired from the board. All have led WHC with engagement and commitment and will be missed, but we also welcomed new members Chris May from CRH, Bryan Tindell from WM, Amber Wellman from Chemours and, of course, our new chair Connie Hergert from OPG. We thank our outgoing board members and welcome incoming members. Also, please welcome Anna Willingshofer to our team. Anna just joined us as our first Chief Science and Innovation officer to help us harmonize our offerings with the variety of efforts happening for nature across the world, helping to steer WHC on its continuing journey.

Part of this journey happens in WHC’s consulting services, where our team continues to respond to the needs of both members and non-members. This past year has seen requests for engagements that are supporting companies on their journeys. From our desks, we’ve completed a number of biodiversity benchmarking exercises for our members, using publicly available data on industry sector’s reporting, disclosures and commitments for nature. This has been a fascinating activity for the consulting team but also for our member companies who are looking for a sound starting point. We’re helping other members take the work they’ve done to prepare for climate reporting as a starting point for nature-based reporting, helping them to see where they have data gaps and process needs to tool-up for being engaged in the coming reporting mandates.

And from this effort, we have found that the best starting point for the corporate nature journey is at operations, where data is being collected for a variety of reasons and where work is being done to create positive outcomes for wildlife, for habitat, for overall environmental health.

It’s been out in the field helping design and deliver high-quality conservation programs also that the team has enjoyed meeting people and hearing stories. Gwen Harris, Doreen Tadde and Rob Campbell have been out with Toyota to help identify options for nature-based solutions at four of their manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and Canada. These efforts will allow the company to convert currently manicured lawns, that do not support biodiversity in any meaningful way, into thriving habitats using native species. Toyota will continue this work across its footprint this year as they work towards a global corporate goal to “Operate In Harmony with Nature.”

This year, Joey Mendolia organized and led a microforest planting at a WM facility in Indianapolis. A microforest, or Miyawaki forest, is a novel approach to tree planting that uses a mixture of soil improvements, dense planting design and a diversity of species to create a small forest that becomes established quicker than normal forestry planting approaches. Microforests are increasingly popular with WHC members because they hit that sweet spot of providing for nature, engaging employees and connecting with communities. We have plans with WM to install a second microforest in the fall and develop a microforest toolkit to allow WM to replicate the success of these planting methods at WM sites across North America.

Joey’s work with the WM team at the Indianapolis White River site was made a lot easier by the engagement of retiree George Peregrim, who brought a font of knowledge and a can-do problem-solving attitude to the effort. Joey would like a George Peregrim at all subsequent WM microforest events.

Jacque Williamson has worked with Chemours Chamber Works and Salem County Community College in New Jersey to develop a middle school environmental science curriculum and will be leading an educators training workshop in the fall.

We also supported the Shell Eco-Marathon event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where the speedway connected a group of 7th graders with WHC staff who introduced the group to the concepts of business working to support biodiversity and then carried out a nature scavenger hunt at the property. To fully prepare the students, we developed a fact sheet on nature-based solutions, which we delivered to students prior to the on-site event. The intention is to have the 7th grade students weigh in on the nature-based solutions that could possibly be implemented at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

And during Earth Week this year, we partnered with Friends of the Rouge to plant 198 trees and shrubs with Salina Elementary and Intermediate schools in Dearborn’s south end, outside of Detroit. The team planted in sessions with one class from the elementary school partnered with one class from the intermediate, so the younger kids had an older buddy to guide them on planting. But the children from the kindergarten classes took the reins on the planting and ended up instructing all the older kids on how and where to plant, yelling at their middle school buddies to “Watch out for our trees!” and instructing them on how important trees were! Savanna Delise told me that it was so exciting to see how passionate even the youngest of kids can be when they’re helping to green their community, and she said all of the students were grateful to participate in planting events during Earth Week on their own school’s campus, even though the events ended up being run by the youngest students!

Our support efforts for companies continue to connect us to many local partners across the globe. For two years now, we’ve supported Xerox as they’ve sought to provide their employees, who mostly work from home, with an excuse to get together with nature as the backdrop. In Washington, D.C., we partner with Rock Creek Conservancy, whose forest resiliency manager Ashley Triplett welcomed government affairs folk and others to support restoration efforts in Rock Creek Park, the national park located in the heart of our nation’s capital. While in the heart of another world capital, London, we worked with Margaret Ruttle from the London Wildlife Trust to deliver three ecological restoration efforts with Xerox employees. This transatlantic effort was made possible by our global network of friends and partners who all operate where business and nature is.

And this aspect of our network resulted in a very sweet story this year that I heard from Bill Cobb at Freeport McMoRan. Bill sent me a news clipping with the headline “Cerro Verde Helps Stray Guanaco Baby Find its Herd.” A family traveling near the Cerro Verde operations in Peru found a chulengo, a baby guanaco, wandering on the old Pan-American Highway near the mine. The family took the chulengo to the mine because the mine is well known in the region for its work to protect animals. The on-site veterinarian provided first aid to the chulengo and waited for the National Forestry and Wildlife Service to send someone. The government professional also checked the calf. The team at the mine found a herd of guanaco that the chulengo likely belonged to and watched as it was quickly accepted by one of the females. The subject line of Bill’s email was “Thought you would find this story touching…” and I did, but I also found it verifying. The reputation of the Cerro Verde operation for their care of animal populations is not an accident — it is a result of the hard work of the mine operators and Freeport’s support for working the land while protecting the species that use it.

And our members have found so many ways to effect positive change for nature. Last September, OPG convened a meeting of energy companies to discuss climate and nature and how the sector is moving towards low carbon and nature positivity. The formal part of the convening was a great success, and we had many interesting conversations, but the field trip to OPG’s Sir Adam Beck Pump Generating Station was the most inspiring. We met Nancy Laser, who is responsible for many environmental projects at the complex, but who is very passionate about the goat program she created. Nancy led the group to see the goats at work, happily and hungrily eating phragmites, an invasive species that impacts many aspects of the operations including impeding access to stations for monitoring water quality and quantity. What really inspired me from this outing was Nancy’s passion for improving the project by learning more about the biology and psychology of the goats. Starting with the initial idea of using goats as ecological management, Nancy was able to tell us visitors about how the goats’ digestive systems are uniquely qualified to digest phragmites, how their chewing motion help make any seeds nonviable and how what comes out the other end serves as nutrients recycled back into the ground by the goats’ hooves. Because goats are easily spooked creatures, Nancy has learned about bringing in sheep to act as a calming presence to ensure they’d settle and eat. And if all this is not enough, the goats also contribute to infrastructure maintenance as they love the vines that grow on the fence line, thus reducing maintenance costs by extending the life of the fence. The goats have cleared 140,000 square feet of phragmites, allowing native species to thrive.

What struck me most about Nancy’s work is the journey she is on — one of education and increasing impact. Yes, we’re all on a journey towards nature positive. We’re all taking it in different ways whether through learning, leading or sometimes just getting out of the way.

Whether it’s deploying goats in Niagara, rescuing guanacos in Peru or convening with colleagues to plant trees wherever you can, you’re on the journey. You’re on the journey when you’re collecting data, generating reports and even answering questions from CEOs, CFOs and investors. It’s definitely in the pollinator garden where you work and the ecological restoration effort where you live. It’s in every outdoor lesson that engages children or every tree planting that engages your friends and colleagues.

We all definitely know that the journey contains setbacks — fighting for more budget to act, seeking more staff to deliver data, searching for water to keep microforests and other planting efforts alive and dealing with droughts, floods and in some cases wildfires.

In that case heed the words of Samuel Beckett when he said: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Reflecting on failing, one of the most common setbacks we see is in the churn of roles and responsibilities and strength of engagement with respect to nature. Companies need to commit fully to get to where we need to go. The goal is nature positive by 2030 — that’s a mere 6 ½ years. It’s not a long time, so we need to focus on the goal and accelerate our pace on this important journey.

This journey is helped by the stories you hear and the stories you tell. It’s in the acts of conservation that you do, the results you get and the results you wish to get. But it’s mostly in the people you meet along the way. The people we meet make this long and sometimes challenging journey worthwhile. It’s the Nancys and Georges of this world who bring passion and knowledge to every act of conservation. It’s the kindergarteners in Dearborn who are leveraging their excitement and energy to make their community heathier and greener. It’s every person, whether from corporate or operations, who have enabled nature to thrive in so many different ways.

It’s you. Here today in Baltimore. So, learn a lot and laugh a lot, and when you return to your workplaces, plant some of the learning and maybe some of the laughing into your teams to inspire others to join us on this important journey.

Thank you.

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