Natural Capital in the Big Apple: Upcoming Roundtable Set for Columbia University’s Earth Institute

Aug242015

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Post by Jane Callen

Clean watershed

Hosted by the Commerce Department, the third natural capital business roundtable in a series focusing on coastal regions is set to take place September 18th at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. The three target industries for the day-long New York City meeting will be financial services, real estate development/construction, and re/insurance.

Natural capital includes the air, water, soil and living resources that provide a range of goods and services on which the global economy depends.  The natural capital roundtables bring together industry leaders, academics, government officials and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in brainstorming sessions to identify opportunities and challenges associated with integrating natural capital values into companies’ business models. These sessions will help inform the development of a Commerce Department natural capital website featuring data, case studies, tools, methodologies, best practices, and other information that businesses have identified as important for decision making. The website will be structured in a way that helps guide them towards the resources most relevant to their particular needs.

The 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina this week highlights the risks of coastal storms, the importance of increasing economic resilience in the face of these storms, and the role natural capital can play in mitigating the impacts of these events. Data, tools, and information from the Commerce Department and elsewhere can help businesses understand and prepare for the impacts of extreme weather events and other environmental hazards. 

The natural capital business roundtables (and the website, as envisioned) will shed light on innovative solutions for promoting business continuity, smart facilities siting, and protecting assets from coastal storms and other environmental risks. Chief among these options is natural infrastructure, which harnesses the biological functions of ecosystems like reefs, mangroves, and coastal wetlands to lessen the impacts of coastal storms and inundation, and provides a host of additional co-benefits (e.g., water filtration, carbon sequestration, recreational opportunities, etc.).

The two previous roundtables were held in the Gulf of Mexico region in April and the Great Lakes region in June. The Gulf Coast/Houston meeting focused primarily on energy, while the Great Lakes/Cleveland gathering centered on manufacturing. Links to blog posts about the previous roundtables are below. We are also undertaking sustained engagement with businesses that participated in the roundtables, leveraging Commerce Department and other data, tools, and information to focus on and respond to their needs.

As we prepare for the September 18th gathering, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) are synthesizing common themes across the roundtables to bolster the Department’s understanding of its stakeholders’ needs, and help shape the content of the website. The New York meeting will feature keynote remarks by Cas Holloway (Bloomberg LP), and presentations from Catherine McKalip-Thompson (Bechtel Infrastructure), Stephen Weinstein (RenassainceRe), and Eron Bloomgarden (EKO Asset Management).  The next roundtable after New York will be hosted by the Stanford Woods Institute in November, culminating in a final event in Washington, DC in early 2016 to summarize the lessons learned at the regional round tables and to prepare for the path forward.

Other blogs in this series:

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Last updated: 2015-08-24 13:11

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