By Clarence Neese, Orbis Cofounder & Vice President
Earlier this fall, Director of Marketing, Kim Kean, and I went to the Greenbiz conference, Bloom 23 (a subset of the larger VERGE 23 conference) to talk about all things sustainability, environmental equality and the impacts on our industry. We brought home all sorts of takeaways of how Orbis fits into the fight to address climate change and biodiversity.
In its own words, Bloom 23 is where “biodiversity meets the bottom line”. The goal of this conference was to bring together “companies, innovators and experts from leading organizations and indigenous groups” to tackle big problems surrounding climate change and the threat to biodiversity. Over two days, thousands of “professionals conven[ed]…for inspiring sessions and networking to advance strategies to protect and regenerate nature”.
As leaders in the land asset management Industry, it’s crucial that Orbis is involved in the big conversations about protecting and being good stewards of the land that we work with daily and the land we help our clients manage. Our takeaways from presentations and conversations at Bloom 23 have given us much to think about.
One of the major takeaways that we brought home from Bloom and Verge was that getting people, particularly young people, excited about and invested in the outdoors is a crucial step in defeating climate change and the threats to biodiversity.
In my opinion, goals need to be set to de-risk investment in projects that are nature positive. Instead of only using monetary aspects to measure value and return, companies should consider the value that aligning and positioning themselves as an organization that’s working to combat climate issues can bring. That ‘feel good’ value may not necessarily be tangible. But invoking that sentiment with clients and consumers can be very impactful.
For instance, at Orbis many of our services are tied to outdoor recreation and ways to diversify land for a variety of uses and a variety of end users. By doing so, our landowners are now considering more environmental and social impacts into their investment and land management strategies, versus just a ‘how much money can I make?’ approach. With our recreation app – My Outdoor Agent – Orbis is making outdoor recreation more accessible, to more communities, than ever before. The more people are able to get outside, the more they are able to fully understand how precious nature is.
The name of the game here is exposure. When people are more frequently exposed to nature and the outdoors, they care more about protecting it. By making outdoor recreation more accessible, My Outdoor Agent not only opens doors for those who had been previously shut out, but it generates a means by which people – especially young people – can become personally invested in the fight to save our planet.
Creating Connections that Create Change
Something else that we found to be a key takeaway from Bloom and Verge is that solving the climate crisis will take more than just simple carbon projects. I think of it this way – finding solutions to these problems is like improving your health by dieting. Counting calories is only one part of the overall solution to improve your health. To do it right, and maximize results, you must look at other aspects of your lifestyle and how they work in tandem.
Similarly, our industry must look past carbon projects as the thing that’s going to save us all. Their singular purpose will not address climate change as issues continue to rapidly evolve. Orbis data and products like My Outdoor Agent can help diversity singular projects by allowing clients to do carbon AND recreation or biodiversity projects, along with public recreation. These types of projects are more in line with where we need to be in the future.
Orbis connects landowners with data about their assets – and this very same data can help connect people with the outdoors. There’s a real need to connect those who have the money to conduct sustainability projects and those who have the land to conduct said projects on.
It’s important for landowners and investors to be aligned. Otherwise, the money that can be thrown behind projects will be wasted, and the effects of these projects will not be felt on the land. Orbis holds a unique position in the industry to help forge and sustain such connections. In my opinion, the big questions that need to be answered are: who has the money to fund these important products and who has the land on which they could be conducted?
Orbis recognizes the importance of executing these projects in a way that is respectful of communities who statistically, and unfairly, are most impacted by climate change.
Here at Orbis – our services are created with the underlying idea of helping to make the world a better place. My Outdoor Agent makes outdoor recreation accessible to those who previously were shut out of opportunities to enjoy all that nature has to offer. There’s also Orbis Cares, our initiative to support and give back to local organizations that are bettering our community, and the work we’ve done to make the Blue Economy more accessible to underserved communities who hadn’t had consistent access to water recreation.
We know the importance of equity when it comes to preserving nature. Future efforts in the fight against climate change are deeply connected to the fight for climate justice – otherwise – we will just continue to repeat the cycle we find ourselves in today.
Ultimately, Bloom 23 and Verge 23 gave us much to think about as we move forward into 2024. As more of our clients’ goals become centered around sustainability, we recognize the importance of strengthening ways (and creating new ones) to promote the connections that are crucial to this fight. Whether we are connecting people with nature, investors with landowners, or even landowners with their own land, sustaining and forging these creations will be crucial moving forward.