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Putting the Shine on Corporate Sustainability: Lisa Jackson receives ELI’s 2018 Environmental Achievement Award

Monday, November 5, 2018
Laura Frederick

Laura Frederick

Grants & Development Writer

The Environmental Law Institute’s 2018 Award Dinner was a star-studded event. Nearly 750 environmental leaders from across multiple sectors—one of the highest attendances in ELI Dinner history—arrived at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., to hear remarks from this year’s distinguished honoree, Lisa Jackson, Vice President of Apple’s Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives and former U.S. EPA Administrator.

ELI Board Member Pamela Giblin, Senior Policy Advisor of the Climate Leadership Council welcomed to the stage another big name, former Attorney General Eric Holder, to introduce Ms. Jackson.

Mr. Holder, a friend and colleague of Ms. Jackson, introduced her as, “someone who rose up through the ranks of government to hold the highest environmental post in the land and who then carried her environmental ideals and expertise into the private sector, where she is helping demonstrate the power of private-sector initiative and leadership in building the kind of sustainable future that we, as citizens, shareholders, investors, customers, and workers, all want.” 

2018 Award Dinner

Lisa Jackson is presented with ELI’s 2018 Environmental Achievement Award.

Pictured also, left to right, are Eric Holder, ELI President Scott Fulton, and ELI Board Chair Ben Wilson

Lisa Jackson’s remarks took place in interview format led by ELI Board Chair Ben Wilson. The conversation focused on the evolution and importance of environmental leadership by companies. Ms. Jackson spoke about the evolution of Apple’s sustainability initiatives and highlighted the key successes her team has accomplished during her tenure.

Since 2007, when Apple began addressing removing toxins from products, the company has rapidly expanded their environmental initiatives in sync with the company’s explosive growth. Ms. Jackson noted in her speech that when she first started at Apple in 2013, the company was focused on improving their packaging, such as using less plastic and sustainably sourcing paper packaging as an alternative. Dreaming bigger, just five years later, Apple achieved a commitment to reaching 100% renewable energy for all of its global production.

Ms. Jackson went on to explain this accomplishment continues to be a dynamic effort. Not only did Apple need to reach 100% renewable energy in its existing operations, she emphasized that the company must continue their efforts when new facilities are opened, sometimes in countries where bringing in clean energy operations is a challenge.

However, Ms. Jackson remains optimistic about this challenge, remarking, “I think the power of the private sector to move supply chains is profound and an opportunity for leadership.” For Apple, this statement rings true. In part due to the company’s efforts, countries like Japan are encouraged to meet the increasing demand for clean energy by the private sector.

Both Mr. Holder and Ms. Jackson also focused on the role of companies in promoting environmental justice. “At the end of the day,” Ms. Jackson explained, “it is about being able to look at clients . . . and say whether your actions are net-positive for communities and health. You can make money with your clients and [also] have communities be better off for it.”

Additionally, she encouraged supporting voices of minorities and women in decisionmaking, and commended ELI’s efforts toward this goal. “Women make up a large part of my staff—I don’t think that’s an accident,” she said. “As our voices are heard, it can’t help but be better for the planet . . . I have always believed that if you promote and put forward women, good things will happen.”

The Environmental Law Institute was honored to present the 2018 Environmental Achievement Award to Lisa Jackson. Her extraordinary work in greening Apple’s supply chain and in reducing the company’s carbon and natural resource footprint stands as a powerful example of business leadership in creating the future that ELI promotes. Her belief in environmental justice is one that aligns with the Institute’s commitment to reflecting the voice of all communities—especially the most vulnerable—in the world’s environmental laws and policies.