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Tensie Whelan
Tensie Whelan is the president of the global sustainability non-profit Rainforest Alliance. She also serves on the boards of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Coalition and Social Accountability International, is a member of the advisory board for corporate social responsibility at Fortis, as well as the sustainable agriculture advisory board for Unilever, sits on the governing body of the U.N. Foundation's World Heritage Alliance, and is the co-chair of the steering committee of the Sustainable Food Lab.

She has worked in the environmental field for more than 25 years, including as vice president of conservation information at the National Audubon Society and as executive director of the New York League of Conservation Voters. She was also a journalist and environmental communications consultant in Costa Rica, and the managing editor of Ambio, an international environmental journal based in Stockholm. Prior to joining the Rainforest Alliance as its executive director, Whelan worked as a management consultant to nonprofit organizations such as the Environmental Defense Fund. She holds an M.A. in International Communication from American University's School of International Service and a B.A. in Political Science from New York University. Whelan's published work includes one of the first books on ecofriendly tourism, Nature Tourism: Managing for the Environment (1991, Island Press).

Entries by Tensie Whelan

How Natural Capital Is Shaping the Future of Business

(0) Comments | Posted October 22, 2014 | 1:06 PM

In my last blog I described the trend toward businesses reexamining and accounting for "natural capital" -- idea that natural resources, ecosystems, climate, etc. are not just "externalities" separate from capital, but a crucial asset that businesses depend on. There are still divergent views on how to define...

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How Natural Capital Is Redefining Success

(1) Comments | Posted October 22, 2014 | 12:32 PM

As far as we've come in redefining corporate governance and success toward the triple bottom line, we still have a distance to go before there is real specificity and widespread agreement among companies and consumers about what terms like "natural capital" or even "sustainability" mean.

This can be seen...

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Women Leaders and Work From a Non-Profit Perspective

(3) Comments | Posted May 15, 2013 | 10:54 AM

Having listened to months of impassioned exchange following the Sandberg-Slaughter sallies on women and work, I have decided to speak up, as a woman and CEO of the Rainforest Alliance, a global nonprofit that works to transform natural resource based industries into sustainable enterprises.

It's a daunting, demanding, and profoundly...

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Sustainable Food Comes of Age

(1) Comments | Posted September 23, 2011 | 1:02 PM

It's hard to pinpoint an exact definition or an exact beginning of the sustainable food movement. No doubt human beings everywhere have always sought a sustainable food supply. But I'd argue that the various definitions converge on the same set ideas, and that the movement is forty or...

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Why Cancún Matters

(1) Comments | Posted November 29, 2010 | 3:08 PM

The 16th Conference of Parties on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - COP16 for short - kicked off in Cancún today. Compared to COP15 in Copenhagen a year ago, expectations for COP16 are low. The universal prediction is that like Copenhagen, Cancún won't produce...

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Incentives to Save the Planet - Part 2

(1) Comments | Posted November 3, 2010 | 4:36 PM

In Part 1 of this blog I outlined how the Rainforest Alliance's sustainable forestry certification program, called SmartWood, pioneered market-based incentives for conserving forests starting in 1990, and some of the remarkable innovations and impacts this fostered. A pessimistic but thoughtful piece...

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Incentives to Save the Planet - Part 1

(1) Comments | Posted October 29, 2010 | 11:11 AM

For better or worse, environmentalists have the same task that economists do: in order to bring about sustainable behavior on the part of businesses, consumers, governments or anyone else, we need to get the economic incentives right.

At first, the idea of framing workable incentives for...

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Saving Forests with Carrots as well as Sticks - Part 2

(0) Comments | Posted August 20, 2010 | 1:27 PM

Part 1 of this blog overviewed the recent rise of robust interdiction of illegal logging, including stronger laws recently passed in the US and the EU, and an emerging trend towards stronger enforcement. These recent developments are significant signs we're getting serious about protecting forests, and they have...

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Saving Forests with Carrots as well as Sticks - Part 1

(2) Comments | Posted August 19, 2010 | 1:54 PM

Forests cover about a third of Earth's land area and contain about 70% of the carbon found in living things. They are one of the keys to climate change, especially tropical forests, which also harbor 95% of the planet's terrestrial biodiversity and 40% of terrestrial carbon, and are responsible for...

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Too Green to Fail : While Environmental Policy is Stuck in Neutral, the Voluntary Green Economy Shifts Into High Gear

(1) Comments | Posted April 29, 2010 | 2:51 PM

Amid a weak economic recovery and a stalled environmental policy debate, there is at least one significant bright spot: the voluntary green economy. Sustainability certification regimes, green consumer and corporate behavior are growing rapidly and having positive impacts on the environment and the economy.

Copenhagen yielded only a three-page non-binding...

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Expecting More from Copenhagen

(5) Comments | Posted November 20, 2009 | 10:34 AM

Expectations for a climate treaty had been in a dramatic downward spiral until President Obama's meeting with Hu Jintao in Beijing this week, where they agreed to shoot for emissions targets, and press for an agreement at Copenhagen that would "rally the world." Was it was all part of a...

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