Conserving Tigers

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CEOs, industry and business leaders, and President Zoellick hope to broaden coalition

CEO Round Tables
The Roundtable was held in Singapore

February, 2012 – Singapore – World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick is discussing the tiger crisis and enlisting the active engagement of industry and the private sector to protect biodiversity in a series of private meetings with CEOs and other industry and business leaders. This is part of the Global Tiger Initiative’s strategy to reach out to a new set of stakeholders that would complement and fundamentally strengthen the existing circle of partners.

CEO Round Tables
President of the World Bank Group,
Robert B. Zoellick, with other Bank officials

The first round table of CEOs was held in Singapore on February 25, where eleven influential executives joined Zoellick, senior management from the World Bank, International Finance Corporation, and the Global Tiger Initiative. CEOs from major corporations and regional heads of finance, infrastructure, education, and transport companies brainstormed how they could come together to address threats to biodiversity and set a good example of environmental responsibility by supporting tiger conservation. A second round table, with the Confederation of Indian Industry, is planned in New Delhi at the end of March.

President Zoellick said the World Bank Group, which together with partners such as the Global Environment Facility and the Smithsonian Institution founded the Global Tiger Initiative in 2008, could act as a “connector” to link industry with environmental groups and other agencies seeking to protect tigers and their natural habitats: “Supporting tiger conservation is part of the global development challenge and with the pace of development in the Asia Pacific region, enlisting the support of business and industry fills in the missing piece in the campaign to protect tigers and strengthen biodiversity conservation across the region.”

CEO Round Tables
CEOs spoke of changing attitudes
towards conservation and biodiversity

In Singapore, the chief executives suggested that attitudes about the importance of wildlife and biodiversity in Asia are changing. Some of the executives sensed that while wildlife crime was once considered a minor offense, people are beginning to recognize its seriousness and to call for tougher law enforcement and penalties. They also emphasized a need to leverage the energy of the younger generation and Asia’s new “haves” to motivate them to quell demand for wildlife-based products by appealing to their pro-environment, pro-conservation instincts.

Keshav Varma, Program Director of the Global Tiger Initiative, updated progress on GTI and how the flagship initiative is helping mainstream conservation into development policies across the tiger range. He appealed to the corporate leaders to apply innovative business models from the private sector to enhance and professionalize management of national parks and other protected areas in the tiger range countries. During the series of dialogues with industry and business, the GTI is emphasizing the importance of careful planning for infrastructure and natural resource projects in and around critical wildlife habitats and adoption of principles of Smart Green Infrastructure.

President Zoellick and the GTI have built solid partnerships with the public sector and civil society since GTI launched in 2008. With the round tables in Singapore, New Delhi, and beyond, they are now seeking to build a global base of private-sector support for tiger conservation by fostering regional business councils to flag areas of cooperation on wildlife and tiger conservation and advise on how industry can help to raise conservation awareness among other private-sector organizations and the public.

Among those attending the Singapore meeting were Mahesh Babu, Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS); Gautam Banerjee, Executive Chairman at PricewaterhouseCoopers Singapore; Ben Chan, Executive Director of Khazanah Nasional of Malaysia; Cheah Sui Ling, CEO, BNP Paribas Securities Singapore; Goh Choon Pong, CEO of Singapore Airlines; Dilip Khatau, Chairman of the Corbett Foundation; Colin Low, Chairman of Singapore Investment Development Corporation; and Ibu Shanti Poesposoetjipto, CEO of PT Samudera Indonesia, a major shipping company. Representatives of global law and education firms, as well as the Smithsonian were also present.

Press Release: Business Leaders Join World Bank in Talks to Protect Asia’s Wild Tigers

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