Everybody is talking about AI and big data these days. We invest billions of dollars and work hours in these smart, cutting-edge technologies that make our lives safer, faster, healthier and easier. Indeed, this is an exciting time, and the opportunities for groundbreaking transformations are many and inevitable.
April is Earth month. Spring returns to Washington, DC, where I live. Days grow longer and warmer. Cherry trees and forsythia bloom. Songbirds return. Moods lift. Shorts, tee shirts, and frisbees appear.
It’s a time for new beginnings.
I’m thrilled to begin a new business this April. After thirty years of work with great organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the United Nations Foundation, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, I’m launching Rock Creek Strategies, LLC. We will help companies, investors, and organizations incorporate the value of nature in economic development.
This has been the guiding passion of my career. As a student of economics and political science in the 1980s, I was fascinated by the concept of sustainable development—especially the idea that nature, which I loved, could play a valuable role in economic development, the career to which I aspired.
Every professional step I’ve taken since has built on this fundamental insight. Creating USAID’s first “global warming initiative” to help developing countries invest in clean energy and forest conservation. Advocating the first environmental provisions in a trade agreement—NAFTA. Launching CI’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business to help Walmart, Starbucks, Disney, Rio Tinto, Marriott and others adopt their first sustainability goals. Leading The Nature Conservancy to deploy its field presence and scientific expertise to shape public policies and corporate practices to tackle climate change, sustainable food, and resilient cities.
I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. But we’ve only just begun to tackle these challenges. And time is short.
The world today is fundamentally different from when we started. Politics are more polarized and gridlocked. Business leaders understand sustainability as a strategic imperative. Technology makes sustainability solutions more affordable and scalable. Society understands that real progress requires respect for diversity and greater inclusion and social justice. A new and more diverse generation is motivated to solve the problems that my generation hasn’t.
I was thinking about all of this on a walk one Saturday morning last fall in Washington’s Rock Creek Park. The scent of the earth, the cool, fresh air, the sunshine filtering through the trees—and the endorphins—inspired my vision for the new business. On my own at first, and never growing too big, we will work nimbly with companies, investors, and non-governmental organizations to help them conserve nature for its economic and social value. We will support diverse communities, especially young people, in their efforts to restore local ecosystems and mobilize capital from companies and investors for this purpose. In doing all this, we will empower new and more diverse constituencies to tackle climate change.
That’s the mission statement for Rock Creek Strategies, LLC. We’re only just beginning. I’ll post updates on this page as we go, and I’ll invite our partners to share their thoughts. I hope you’ll follow our progress. More importantly, I hope we can collaborate on this vital mission!
Founder and Principal