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Climate change is a hot topic--but what people tend to focus on the most is quantity. How many species are left, how much water is used, how many acres of forest are grown and so on? With the amount of nature and wildlife decreasing and the media coverage increasing, every new day the important decisions people make are even more vital to life. While the numbers are important, what is even more important is the factor that we can control: how we manage natural resources.
Natural resource management includes land use planning, water management, biodiversity conservation, the energy industry and other resource development. It’s how we use the Earth’s resources and how future generations will survive.
Whether we have an abundance or scarcity of these resources, how we manage them is equally, if not more, important.
The Nature Conservancy’s Verde Valley project manager, Kim Schonek, told The Republic at AZ Central, "We don't have a water quantity issue. We have a water management issue."
That’s why The Nature Conservancy, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Coca-Cola have been partnering since 2012 to create and implement more sustainable ways to manage Arizona’s water usage, along with local farmers.
Generating more sustainable management of watersheds by reducing leaks and putting in place modern aquaculture technology is key to multiple shareholders. Water is the number one ingredient for Coca-Cola, it is used for the livelihood of the local community, it supports the state and is vital to surrounding nature and biodiversity.
There are multiple ways to manage natural resources. It can be done through sustainability initiatives, consumer behavior, corporate social responsibility, conservation science and environmental policy.
Behind all these facets, there are people like you. People taking actions. Management deciding on choices.
One recent example of this is a volunteer, people-led initiative at Versova beach that was dubbed by the United Nations as the “world’s largest beach cleanup project.” The initiative was started by lawyer Afroz Shah, who turned his local Mumbai beach from a 5-foot-high dumping ground to a community service project, where 2 years later it is now a pristine turtle hatchery.
Shah told The Guardian, “You can have laws, policies, regulations in place, but if the community doesn’t have a sense of belonging, you can see what happens.”
People, consumers, and markets of up-and-coming generations will be demanding all industries and sectors to be aware of their preferences.
Adidas is one company that has realized people will pay a premium for climate-friendly products. They partnered with Parley and in the past 2 years have reportedly sold over 1 million shoes from their ocean plastic collection. The Adidas x Parley ocean plastic collection utilizes around 11 plastic bottles in the materials that make up the product at a premium price of around $200 per pair.
1 million shoes x 11 plastic bottles... that's 11 million bottles not polluting our oceans! Simple idea, simple math.
Corporations, governments, nonprofits and all the organizations in between will start to realize, if they have not already, that to get ahead is to accept responsibility and to start acting. Not only that, but there is growth and money to be made.
Without proper management controlling sustainable and responsible decision-making, even an abundance of the most precious resources will wither and disappear. But, with responsible management we can make a difference in affecting the triple bottom line—creating a positive impact for people, nature and businesses.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Thunderbird School of Global Management or Arizona State University as a whole.
About the Author: Amanda Frein ’19 is a Master of Arts in Global Affairs & Management candidate at Thunderbird, with a specific focus on nongovernmental organizations and global conservation efforts. She is passionate about global wildlife conservation and believes sustainability, education, and environmental conservation all play key roles in the preservation of species. Amanda’s goal is to create an impact through raising awareness and connecting people with their passion to supporting nature and wildlife.