The Project team met M. Mike Mertens, Director of Spatial Analysis at Ecotrust. We had a short insight of the main activities and current challenges of Ecotrust Forest Management that was named “Best for the Environment” as one of the top performers among B Corporations worldwide.
Sixty-three companies across 30 industries and 11 countries were recognized by the nonprofit B Lab, with the release of the B Corp “Best for the Environment List”, a second installment in its B Corp “Best for the World” series.
Founded by Spencer Bebee in 1991, Ecotrust aims to inspire fresh thinking that creates economic opportunity, social equity and environmental wellbeing. Its goal is to foster a natural model of development that creates more resilient communities, economies, and ecosystems here and around the world.
(Extract of the Ecotrust website) « The history of Ecotrust is a story of innovation, adaptation and evolution. A committed group of individuals led by Spencer Beebe founded Ecotrust in 1991 in Portland. Previously, Beebe co-founded Conservation International and served as the president of The Nature Conservancy International. Beebe and his colleagues started Ecotrust with the goal of bringing to America the best sustainability and conservation ideas emerging around the world. The organization’s mission has evolved into an ambitious one: we want to lead an American economic revolution by deploying new business models that build economic, social and environmental wellbeing. In that pursuit of wellbeing, we have been at the cutting edge of efforts to creatively deploy knowledge, technology and capital. The measure of success is on the ground, where we’ve been making steady headway to create lasting change. »
An Original Approach
The incomes come mainly from the natural capital fund (21 Million $), services, grants and revenues from investments. The original approach developed by Ecotrust considers first that healthy economies depends on healthy environments, and vice-versa. The approach of Ecotrust is to facilitate the conversion of the economy towards more sustainability. The 65-persons staff is altogether giving advises, counselling, advocating (communication strategies) and sharing expertises to reach this global objective. For nearly two decades, it converted every $100 invested in Ecotrust into $500 in green capital that contributes a world a better place.
While we were visiting Portland, we were surprised by the beautiful building where Ecotrust operates. It is renovated from an old industrial building, and is certified LEED.
Fields of Operation
Ecotrust is involved in several fields: Fisheries, Knowledge systems, Native peoples, Forestry & Ecosystems services and Food & Farms. The latter attracted our attention. M. Mertens reminded that « with a lack of transparency, the business fell ». Ecotrust is working to build a robust regional food system that is environmentally sound, socially just, and economically viable. They are particularly involved in three domains: the communication (publishing particularly the magazine Edible), quality food in schools (they help gathering quality farmers to provide good food in schools, and promoting healthy food) and market connexion (by creating a food hub platform that connect local farmers with consumers, with now 450 contacts). The current challenge is to aggregate farmers in quality and quantity in order to be able to provide big institutions with quality food, like schools, state authorities, hospitals…).
To finish by making a connexion with one of our future meeting, let’s think about the quote from M. Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia: » Buying into something that people need, rather than what people want, is the safest thing you can do ».