Timberland Shares Sustainability Approach at Rotary Presidential Peace Conference

By: Atlanta McIlwraith, Senior Manager of Community Engagement and Communications
Feb 22, 2018 2:00 PM ET
Blog

I recently had the opportunity to join over 800 Rotary members from 30 different countries at Rotary’s Presidential Peacebuilding Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. The conference was focused on Environmental Sustainability and Peace, the first of six Peacebuilding Conferences to be held in different locations around the world on Rotary’s core focus areas. I was invited to share some of Timberland’s corporate responsibility best practices on a session entitled “Business of Sustainability.” Beth Keck, former Senior Director at Walmart and member of the Environmental Sustainability Rotary Action Group, facilitated the conversation between me and Bruce Karas, VP Environment, Sustainability Coca-Cola.

The session came early in the conference agenda after welcoming remarks from Rotary International President Ian Riseley, a bilingual video greeting from Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and a plenary address from Dr. David Suzuki. As a Canadian academic, science broadcaster, and environmental activist, Dr. Suzuki powerfully communicated the urgent need to combat climate change. At the heart of his message was a call to shift our definition of economic progress from growth to true sustainability, which would attribute an economic value to clean air, safe water, open spaces, and other environmental elements needed to sustain life on the planet. 

Dr. Suzuki’s moving and thought-provoking comments preceded our panel and provided both Coca-Cola and Timberland the opportunity to present our various approaches to minimize our global footprint. Bruce shared Coca-Cola’s goal to replenish to nature and communities the water used in its finished beverages and I had the opportunity to describe Timberland’s approach to CSR, and specifically our urban greening and tree planting initiatives. 

While at the conference, I discovered Timberland and Rotary share some key passions:

  1. We both love to serve. Timberland’s Path of Service™ program, now in its 26th year, provides employees worldwide with up to 40 paid community service hours each year, aligning with the Rotary’s principle motto, “Service Above Self.” For Rotary, that translates into action through a network of more than 35,000 Rotary clubs that serve their communities in over 200 different countries.

  2. We both love trees. Rotary has a goal to plant 1.2 million trees worldwide and Timberland is well on its way to meet its 2020 goal to plant 10 million trees.

  3. We both are engaged in Haiti. I shared our tree planting work and our efforts to reintroduce cotton growing to Haiti after a 30-year hiatus. Meanwhile, Rotary is also actively engaged in Haiti with clean water and sanitation programs and education.

Overall, I was grateful to learn more about the amazing work Rotary does to promote peace and sustainability around the world. With our shared values recognizing the impact that active involvement can make in our communities and on our environment, I look forward to opportunities to collaborate with Rotary both locally and globally in the months to come.