Iowans have long known good stewardship of the state’s natural resources is essential for protecting these assets for future generations. But now, in an era of pressing environmental challenges and a struggling national economy, more and more Iowans are also looking to environmental protection as a savvy business decision.
The Iowa Environmental Council will highlight their stories at its daylong annual conference, Finding Iowa’s Way: Economic Solutions for a Healthier Environment, to be held October 4 in Des Moines.
“From manufacturing to agriculture and beyond, investing in efficiency and using resources carefully is a good business decision that benefits Iowa’s environment and all of us who live here,” said Ralph Rosenberg, the Council’s executive director. “And so, while government’s response to major environmental challenges like climate change has been slow, Iowans aren’t waiting to take on these problems because doing so provides good economic opportunities and many other benefits as well.”
Keynote speaker L. Hunter Lovins, a globally recognized leader in sustainable business consulting, will set the tone for the day’s discussion. Author most recently of The Way Out: Kick-starting Capitalism to Save Our Economic Ass, Lovins will argue “climate capitalism”—focusing on the environment in business decision making—is a winning strategy to take on climate change while also providing Americans jobs and economic opportunities.
Following her talk, a panel of Iowans representing sustainability-focused businesses will share their stories using energy and other resources more efficiently and profiting in the process. Speakers include Mark Weldon, who is helping Cedar Rapids manufacturer Quaker Oats meet rigorous goals for saving water and energy, and Jim Martin-Schramm, who is helping Decorah’s Luther College become a carbon-neutral campus.
In the afternoon, the conference will focus on how good environmental stewardship improves the health of Iowa’s landscape while protecting the rural economy and vitality of communities.
Iowa State University researcher Lisa Schulte-Moore will deliver a talk focused on the economic and environmental benefits of incorporating more perennials into Iowa’s landscape.
Following her talk, a panel of agricultural experts including Mark Rasmussen, new director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, will discuss how Iowa farmers are focused on building the health of their soil using strategies like cover crops and conservation tillage that protect local water quality and build the productivity of their farms for the long term.
“Everywhere we look around the state, we see Iowans who understand good natural resource stewardship is an environmental, social, and economic imperative for our state,” said Rosenberg. “Building on their progress is essential for to keep Iowa a great place to live, work, and raise a family, and that’s what this event is all about.”