Managing Private Sector Environmental Initiatives (ELI Master Class)

September 6, 2019 9:30 am — 1:15 pm
Washington, DC (and webinar)

An ELI Signature Master Class

To get to the scale we need to address climate, biodiversity, human rights, and other environmental and social challenges, we need strategies to increase private sector participation in collaborative sustainability initiatives. In the United States we now have over 30 years of experience with voluntary environmental, health and safety, and human rights compliance programs. This experience with Private Environmental Governance (PEG) is powerful and was the focus of this Master Class, featuring legal and policy experts covering the legal and reglationship issues that arise from voluntary collaborative initiatives.

8:30 AM

Registration & Light Refreshments

9:00 AM

Opening Remarks:  John Pendergrass, Vice President, Programs and Publications, Environmental Law Institute

9:15 AM

Panel 1: Navigating the Legal Risks of Private Environmental Programs

Panel 1 covered experience with individual company programs, including legal risks and opportunities that arise from setting individual company performance and purchasing standards, and related reporting.

Who starts an initiative? Why go beyond compliance? What legal considerations are there in establishing your company's own environmental, social, or governance program? When does a publicized standard create third-party rights? When does it increase or decrease the risk of government enforcement actions? Managing supply chain expectations, data exchange and privacy, and establishing a program that will meet external expectations was the focus of Panel 1.

10:30 AM

Coffee & Networking Break

10:45 AM

Panel 2:  Managing Collaborative Programs

Panel 2 focused on experiences with multi-party programs, including the practical challenges and legal risks associated with working collaboratively with other stakeholders.

Creating Sector Strategies -- To create greater scale, companies in specific sectors have deep experience with voluntary standards and other frameworks to address environmental and social issues. Collaborations with competitors and NGOs can yield widespread environmental benefits, but they also raise complex antitrust and other legal compliance issues.

Ensuring Credibility -- Business-developed standards raise concerns about whether they whitewash (or greenwash) an issue that would be more effectively addressed through regulation or third-party verification. Panelists explored lessons learned on how to create structure and credibility.

  • Cassie Phillips, Director, Private Environmental Governance Initiative, Environmental Law Institute and former Vice President, Sustainable Forestry, Weyerhaeuser, Moderator
  • Hal Hodes, Senior Attorney, National Programs, NAD
  • Elizabeth Seeger, Director, Sustainable Investing, KKR
  • Jennifer Tarr, Associate, Proskauer Rose LLP
 12:00 PM


 12:15 PM

Panel 3: Private Environmental Governance and the Public Sector

Panel 3 focused on the interactions between public and private sector initiatives.

Interfacing with the Government -- At times, the government has sought to encourage private environmental and social compliance programs with mixed success. Are there good examples in which private programs have eliminated the need for environmental or social regulation, or aided in enforcement? Or where the experimentation in private programs has led to better legislative or regulatory solutions?

Lessons Learned for Voluntary, Collaborative Programs -- Sustainability efforts often go beyond the businesses affected and include other stakeholders, especially government. Panelists examined the interactions between public and private environmental initiatives and shared lessons learned. Why do public-priate collaborations arise? What challenges and opportunities do they present for government, NGOs, corporate attorneys, and others? Do they complement or compete with government programs? What training is crucial to fostering success in this area?

  • Michael P. Vandenbergh, David Daniels Allen Distinguished Chair of Law; Director, Climate Change Research Network; Co-director, Energy, Environment and Land Use Program, Vanderbilt University Law School, Moderator
  • Daniel Fiorino, PhD, Distinguished Executive in Residence, Department of Public Administration and Policy, American University School of Public Affairs
  • Stephen Harper, Global Director, Environment and Energy Policy, Intel Corporation
  • Vickie Patton, General Counsel, Environmental Defense Fund
 1:30 PM Adjournment



ELI members will have access to materials/a recording of this session (usually posted w/in 48 hours). If you are not an ELI member but would like to have access to archived sessions like this one, go HERE to see the many benefits of membership and how to join.


In-person CLE Attendees:

  • We will have a sign-in and sign-out sheet for you to initial and fill out with time total time of attendance for the event.
  • We will provide you with your CLE information at the end of the event.

Webinar CLE Attendees (you must have selected CLE info when you registered):

  • When watching the webinar you will need to have the webinar at the forefront of your computer screen as GoTo webinar software will be tracking attentiveness and creating an attentiveness report.
  • You will need to be watching the webinar for a majority of the time to receive CLE Credit.
  • We will email you the CLE information and certification within one week of the event.