Saturday, August 22, 2009

Graduate Profile: Cindy Jennings, Vice President at Cohn Marketing

In August 2007 I first met Cindy Jennings (MRLS graduate, 2009). She was just starting the graduate program with an eye towards enhancing her understanding of issues related to sustainability.

As Vice President, Marketing and Client Brand Strategy at Cohn Marketing, Cindy was well aware of the challenges and opportunities faced by current and prospective clients. In particular she felt that by encouraging her clients to be more sustainable they could (and would) increase the value of their underlying brand. By attending and graduating from the DU program, and in the process sharpening her understanding of the many different aspects of sustainability, she would effectively become more valuable to her own clients.

From the very beginning Cindy and I hit it off. In the early 2000s, I had been editor-in-chief of "Corporate Environmental Strategy: The Journal of Corporate Sustainability." In that role, I had written about and given a great deal of thought to the intersection of business, environment, and society more broadly. Thus, in many respects, Cindy and I were kindred spirits. However, there was one big difference: Cindy was actually a "practitioner" while I was more of a "writer" when it came to the topic.

During Cindy's time at DU we often talked about these issues both from a theoretical perspective as well as from a practical standpoint. Cindy was a student in one of my courses, "European Union Law & Policy," and as part of the requirements of the course she wrote a very interesting final paper entitled, "How EU Environmental and Climate Change Law and Policy is Causing Innovation and New Avenues of Prosperity in the Business World." In this paper, she considered "Making Europe a Pole of Excellence on Corporate Social Responsibility," which had been published in 2006 by the European Commission. In summary, Cindy took (and effectively presented) the argument that companies can in fact benefit from corporate social responsibility, not least of which in terms of how they are viewed by their markets and stakeholders.

Yesterday afternoon Cindy, her colleague Kate McDaniel, Lucy, and I set down and talked about the highly interrelated nature of brand development, environmental impact, and sustainability. Cindy, who is responsible for Cohn's sustainable and clean tech client initiatives, and her team at Cohn Marketing are leaders in this nascent -- but quickly emerging -- field of encouraging companies to align their business objectives in a manner that is sustainable in the long term. One of her projects involves Lend Lease Communities. Cohn describes the project in this manner:
"Lend Lease is an Australia-based development company with projects worldwide. The company puts a premium on sustainable operations, using a broad definition of sustainability that encompasses a social, economic and environmental focus. In 2006, Lend Lease established Denver as its headquarters for Lend Lease
Communities development business in the United States. With two major projects in Colorado and an eye toward national expansion, Lend Lease Communities turned to Cohn Marketing for PR services and to produce much of its marketing materials."
Leaders are often life-long learners who are always seeking to improve their own skills and expertise. They are also perceptive, often identifying trends and opportunities where others might see only impediments. Cindy clearly is a leader who combines marketing expertise, a passion to "do the right thing," and an understanding of how a firm or company can in fact benefit from doing things right.

Questions and Answers with Cindy Jennings:

How long have you been at Cohn?
Two and a half years.
How has your approach to your job changed, if any, based on what you learned at DU?
I wouldn't say my approach has changed as of now - but has certainly been enhanced. I'm bringing a completely new set of knowledge to the agency that has helped both bring in new clients and expand current client relationships from a sustainability/corporate responsibility perspective. Without my education/credentials, we could not have pursued sustainable projects as effectively. In addition, my education is setting us up to establish a core competency in sustainable brand development with a focus on renewable energy/clean technology, sustainable real estate development and sustainable food and beverage operations.
What is your philosphy about what you try to bring to clients? In other words, what do you think the link is or should be between a brand and sustinability?
The link is business - doing good business responsibly and with the long-term in mind. In a culture that focuses on the next quarter's profits, I try to help clients understand the long-term benefits of incorporating sustainable business practices into their organizations. Many are good at the cost-cutting/energy-saving measures, but are not as familiar with the health and well-being of workers or their communities to help them be even more prosperous through increased productivity, a higher level of engagement at work. Additionally, statistics are starting to show that consumers trust NGO endorsements of companies/products at a higher rate than most other resources, so being an authentically good corporate citizen can lead to benefits in this regard as well. Finally, we stress that the pressures and demands are coming. For example, we work with a small supplier trying to land business at a Fortune 100 company. We incorporated their new sustainability plan into their sales pitch and it gave them "extra credit". Our client will still have to produce a quality product, on-time and on-budget, but the fact that their competitors are not paying attention to sustainability - even a little - is playing some role in the decision.
Where did you earn your bachelor's degree?
I have a B.S. in Hotel Administration from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Cornell University in New York and UNLV are largely known as the top schools for Hotel Restaurant Management - although perhaps DU would object to that...:)

Friday, August 21, 2009

ScottishPower, Shell U.K., and National Grid Establish Consortium to Develop U.K.'s First Commercial Size Carbon Capture and Sequestration Project

Shell U.K. and Britain's National Grid company have joined ScottishPower's efforts to develop the U.K.'s first commercial-sized carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project.

Led by ScottishPower, the three firms will submit a bid for the U.K.'s carbon capture and sequestration competition. The British government is aiming to develop four "clean" coal-fired power stations that will use the technology. CCS, which has not been proven on a commercially viable basis thus far, involves capturing carbon dioxide, compressing it, and transporting it to reservoirs underground.

The European Union, which has committed to major reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, is especially interested in the technology.

Nick Horler, ScottishPower chief executive, said, "I am delighted to welcome Shell and National Grid to the team. Both of these companies will bring specialist knowledge, expertise, and opportunities for growth in the development of this cutting edge technology...[T]he new companies represent a 'perfect fit' as we strive to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 90 percent from the [coal-fired] power plant at Longannet in Scotland."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Graduate News From Chile

Bernardo Correa B. (LLM graduate 2003) is an attorney with the Chilean power company Colbun. Recently he wrote and said, "I have wonderful memories about Denver, DU, and the LLM program."

Bernardo was in one of the first courses I taught at DU, in the 2002-2003 academic year. He was part of a really great group of LLM students. I have very fond memories of them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Eric Spiegel, Author of "Energy Shift: Game-Changing Options for Fueling the Future," Talks About the Future of Energy in the U.S.

Eric Spiegel, an expert in how changes in U.S. energy policy may create major new investment opportunities and a partner at the consulting firm Booz & Company, was interviewed recently about how businesses can prepare for the coming changes.

The interview with Mr. Spiegel was shown on E&ENewsPM and conducted by Monica Trauzzi. It will be well worth your time to watch the interview (although note that it was conducted on July 15, 2009, and thus may not be entirely current).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Report Published on "Ten Insights From Europe on the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme"

Since 2005, the European Union has had in place an emissions trading scheme (ETS) aimed at reducing green house gas emissions. From that point until now, the EU has "accumulated a rich experience with designing and implementing a cap-and-trade program."

A recently published report, "Climate Change Policy and Industrial Competitiveness: Ten Insights From Europe on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme," provides insight into the ETS and "suggests key lessons relevant to current U.S. [climate change related] debates" as well as some recommendations.

The report was written by a team headed by Michael Grubb, the chief economist for the U.K.-based Carbon Trust and a highly regarded expert on emissions trading. The report was commissioned by the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Among some of the report's observations:
  • Emissions trading works: European emissions have been reduced by 120-300 million metric tons of carbon dioxide during the first phase of the ETS, according to an MIT study.

  • The impact on gross domestic product is small: "Don't let concerns about macroeconomic impacts dictate the environmental targets," the report says. "Economic impacts have been consistently less than projected."

  • Competitiveness impacts are limited to a relatively small group of industries: Tailored solutions to those industries that are involved in international business should be considered.

  • Windfall profits may result if too many free allocations are handed out (oh what a difficult lesson the Europeans learned on this comment, not the authors').

  • Auctioning of allocations should be maximized.
Those interested in how the European experience might inform the debate in the U.S. should definitely read this report.

Monday, August 17, 2009

International Videocast: DU “ECT Study” Team Tele-Presents to Queensland, Australia, Environmental Court Judges

DU Law Professor George (Rock) Pring and research partner Catherine (Kitty) Pring presented a keynote address – via DU’s state-of-the-art video communications system – to the Judges of the Planning and Environment Court (PEC) in Australia’s State of Queensland, on Monday, Aug. 10, at 5:00 pm (9:00 am Tuesday for the Judges, who were 16 hours ahead). There was spirited discussion in both trans-Pacific directions, since each group could see the other in realtime on giant flatscreen tvs.

The Prings outlined the findings of the University of Denver Environmental Courts and Tribunals (ECT) Study – the first global comparative study of these fast-spreading judicial and administrative bodies specializing in resolving disputes involving environment, land use, sustainable development, and related issues. There are now over 250 ECTs in at least 37 different countries.

The invitation to keynote the PEC conference was a particular honor, since that court is a longstanding model ECT with very experienced environmental judges. (For an overview of the PEC's activities in 2007-2008, please see "District Court of Queensland Annual Report 2007-2008," page 29-30.)

PEC Judge Michael Rackemann served as the "host" of the conference session in which the Prings appeared. Judge Rackemann gave an excellent, well-attended presentation earlier this year (to see the video, please click here) to our students and faculty on the Environmental Courts of Queensland during his visit to DU. The presentation was sponsored by five student groups: the Natural Resources and Environmental Law Society, Land Use Law Society, Construction and Real Estate Law Society, Native American Law Students Association, and International Law Society. He was visiting DU as a consequence of an earlier interview the Prings had conducted with him in Australia for the ECT Study.

A unique aspect of the ECT Study is that it is being done by a multidisciplinary husband-wife team. Each brings complementary expertise to the project. Professor Pring is a noted scholar, teacher, and consultant in environmental, international, and constitutional law and a former environmental litigation attorney. Mrs. Pring is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) expert, professional mediator and facilitator, systems analyst, and former government health and human services administrator.

According to the Prings, "The goal of the study is to produce a practical, capacity-building 'tool kit' – of models, options, issues, and best practices – to guide governments and others in establishing or reforming ECTs. The study finds 12 basic 'design decisions' are involved in creating an effective ECT." The study will be published by The Access Initiative of the World Resources Institute thinktank (TAI-WRI) in Washington, DC, in December, in free print and on-line versions.

The Prings have researched, observed, and interviewed over 150 ECT judges, prosecutors, attorneys, government officials, academics, and advocacy groups at 32 ECTs in 22 countries to provide that knowledge-base to others desiring to create or reform ECTs to improve citizen access to environmental justice. For more, see the ECT Study website.

To view a video interview (conducted in mid-April) about the study with the Prings, please click here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

"Community Expectations for Sustainable Development in Natural Resources Projects" Short Course Concludes

A thought-provoking and cutting-edge short course, "Community Expectations for Sustainable Development in Natural Resources Projects," came to a close last Friday with these conclusory comments by Luke Danielson: "One of our world's greatest needs is to integrate the idea that those who consume goods and materials need to also be concerned about the conditions under which these things are produced."

Mr. Danielson, a Gunnison attorney, principal in the Sustainable Development Strategies Group (SDSG), and widely-recognized international expert in addressing sustainable development matters in large natural resource development projects (for instance, mines, oil and gas projects, etc.) and his teaching partner Cecilia Dalupan, an attorney licensed in the Philippines and the U.S. and also a principal in SDSG, conducted the five day "short course" for a group of DU law and graduate students.

The course was organized in five components:
  • Introduction: what is sustainable development in natural resources projects?
  • Understanding each other: differences in culture, values, and ideas
  • Sources of misunderstanding and conflict
  • Incorporating communities in the decision process: managing conflict successfully
  • Conclusion
Mr. Danielson and Ms. Dalupan presented a series of lectures, which provided the context for the major issues explored in the course. They also reflected on their own global experiences in dealing with the issues while encouraging students to reflect on the often vexing issues involved with natural resources development.

Among the course highlights included guest lectures from an outstanding array of leading figures such as:
Another highlight involved student presentations that went on during the course of the week. Each student was assigned a topic to research, analyze, and then present to their colleagues. The presentations were provocative and often raised as many questions as they answered. For example, one of the presentations focused on the Chino mine closure in southwest New Mexico. Others dealt with projects that were located in Africa, South America, and elsewhere.

The week was a busy one to be sure. But from what I observed first-hand, the benefits were many both quantitatively and qualitatively.

In closing, Mr. Danielson said, "This has been just great. You as students have worked hard and really put your hearts into it." I could not have said it better.