ELI Annual Award Dinner, 2016

October 25, 2016 12:27 pm — 12:27 pm
Washington, DC
The 2016 Award Dinner took place on Tuesday, October 25, 2016
The Omni Shoreham Hotel
2500 Calvert Street, NW
Washington, DC


Awardee: The Honorable Henry M. Paulson, Jr.


Henry Paulson

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) presented its 2016 Environmental Achievement Award to The Honorable Henry M. Paulson, Jr. for his visionary leadership over decades to forge an enduring U.S.- China relationship to enhance environmental protection, reduce greenhouse gases, and build a sustainable future for our planet. ELI presented the award on Tuesday, October 25th, 2016, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The award recognized Hank Paulson’s outstanding efforts to create bilateral cooperation with China through his service, leadership, and scholarship. “The relationship between the United States and China – the world’s two largest economies – is of utmost importance as the world confronts the  challenges of sustainability,” said ELI Board Chair Martha Rees. “Hank Paulson’s leadership and expertise in this arena, as well as his many environmental achievements in other areas, have helped shape the path forward on the world’s most pressing environmental concerns.”

Paulson is a political leader, diplomat, businessman, conservationist, and author. He served as 74th Secretary of the United States Department of the Treasury from 2006-2009. Prior to this appointment, he served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs. After leaving government, he founded and now chairs the Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago. He also serves as co-chairman of the Latin American Conservation Council of The Nature Conservancy and helped spearhead the Risky Business Project.

In 2006, while Secretary of the Treasury, Paulson was instrumental in creating the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) that has led to improved environmental engagements between the United States and China and played a key role in ushering in a more modern and law-based approach to environmental protection in China. Said ELI President Scott Fulton, “Hank’s forward-thinking initiatives, coupled with his own personal and sustained leadership, served as a key catalyst in China’s advancement of environmental protection. The chain of events he helped set into motion played no small role in enabling the China/U.S. climate accord, without which the recently concluded Paris Climate Agreement would have simply been impossible. In short, his work in and with China can and should be credited as a singular environmental accomplishment that has been transformative for China and the world.”

Paulson remains deeply involved in China through his work at the Paulson Institute. His recent book, Dealing with China, describes the work of the Institute as promoting “sustainable economic growth and a cleaner environment through greater cooperation between the U.S. and China.” The Institute’s programs, advocacy and research are grounded in the principle that today’s most pressing economic and environmental challenges can be solved only if the United States and China work together in complementary ways.

However, Paulson’s environmental achievements are not limited to those that have emerged from his China Initiatives. He co-chairs the Latin America Conservation Council, a high powered group of global leaders working with The Nature Conservancy to advance solutions to three of Latin America’s greatest challenges - water security, sustainable food security, and smart infrastructure- to benefit both people and nature.

Paulson also co-chairs the Risky Business Project, together with Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer. This non-partisan initiative focuses on quantifying and publicizing the risks of climate change in the United States to spur action to mitigate the effects of climate change before the worst potential outcomes occur.

In 2005, as chair of Goldman Sachs, he helped the company establish its Environmental Policy Framework. The company describes the Framework as the embodiment of its “commitment to developing effective market-based solutions to address climate change, ecosystems degradation and other critical environmental issues, and to creating new business opportunities that benefit the environment.”

In 2008, Paulson helped establish the Climate Investment Fund to which President Obama pledged $3 billion at the G-20 Summit in 2014 for U.S. participation. This fund was designed as an interim measure to strengthen the global knowledge base for low- carbon and climate-resilient growth solutions.

Hank Paulson’s environmental work truly aligns with ELI’s own vision of achieving a healthy environment, prosperous economies, and vibrant communities. For this, and for all his many accomplishments, we were honored to present Mr. Paulson with the 2016 ELI Environmental Achievement Award.