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John Lounds, president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, with A Force for Nature campaign leaders John Risley and Paul Desmarais Jr. (NCC)

John Lounds, president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, with A Force for Nature campaign leaders John Risley and Paul Desmarais Jr.

(NCC)

A Special Information Feature brought to you by the Nature Conservancy of Canada

Canadian corporate leaders drive national conservation campaign Add to ...

Q&A with A Force for Nature campaign leaders Paul Desmarais Jr., Chairman & Co-CEO, Power Corporation of Canada and John C. Risley, President, Clearwater Fine Foods

Why did you choose to give your time and energy to NCC?

Paul Desmarais: It’s pan-Canadian, it’s non-confrontational, and it works with people. NCC is not only saving land but, in my mind, building bridges with people while helping them to be conscious about nature. ]

John Risley: I like to do business with the best. You might contribute to a charity for emotional reasons, but you want to make sure that they are investing your gifts in an intelligent, measured manner. NCC has the discipline that’s appropriate for an organization of its size, and is accountable to donors.

What is the biggest accomplishment of A Force for Nature?

PD: I think that completing a $500-million campaign for a country of our size is a formidable gesture, and one that we should be very excited about and celebrate.

JR: The commitment to care for natural lands forever. We don’t just buy a piece of land and then walk away and forget about it. We understand what makes that piece of land unique and then, having bought it, we monitor it on a go-forward basis.

Why are you proud to have led this campaign?

JR: By investing in nature, we’re building a sustainable future where we live, work and do business. Everyone I speak to thinks that protecting natural land is society’s responsibility. What NCC does is part of a very, very broad-based mandate on behalf of our whole population.

PD: There are few things we can do that are more beneficial than conserving nature. Because of the immediate need, and the size of this campaign, we’re having a meaningful and consequential impact on the nature around us. I believe that we’ve created momentum for future impact as well.

Why is it important for corporate leaders to be part of this work?

PD: First, you create a great company and you create jobs for people. You can take pride in that. But then you might ask, what am I leaving behind that’s truly lasting, that can stay for hundreds of years to come? There aren’t a lot of things you can do where you can actually have an impact that will last forever. The conservation work that NCC does has that vital lasting impact.

JR: Corporate leaders have a responsibility to be stewards of Canada’s natural resources. We need to make decisions based on the best available science and long-term sustainability rather than short-term market convenience. Like conservationists, we must take the long view.

What’s next?

JR: The really unique thing about NCC is that it’s an infinite campaign. The responsibility doesn’t end at $500 million. The responsibility to protect and preserve what is so important, and makes Canada so distinctive, is a never-ending responsibility.

PD: Whatever we own – whether it’s a house you have to repaint or a garden that you have to weed – everything around us, to grow and be healthy, needs stewardship. I think that to be the custodians of these properties forever is a huge responsibility, and we have to get it right. I think about my children and grandchildren – this has to be forever.

“Because of the immediate need, and the size of this campaign, we’re having a meaningful and consequential impact on the nature around us.”

Paul Desmarais Jr.
is an A Force for Nature campaign leader

“The responsibility to protect and preserve what is so important, and makes Canada so distinctive, is a never-ending responsibility.”

John C. Risley
is an A Force for Nature campaign leader

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