Corporate sustainability focus boosts protection of East Asian seas
Southeast Asia is home to more than 30 percent of the world’s mangrove and coral reef habitats, and coastal business – including shipping, fishing, and tourism – constitute up to 20 percent of the GDP of some East Asian countries. Ryan Whisnant brings a corporate sustainability mindset to his work at Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA), which facilitates intergovernmental strategies to ensure flourishing economies and healthy ecosystems along the East Asian coastline. “PEMSEA was founded as a project of the United Nations Development Programme and is still largely driven that way, but it has been evolving over the last few years to become a self-sustaining, free-standing intergovernmental organization,” he says. “They needed help working through the strategy for transition.” Whisnant is up to the task, having served as director of sustainability and corporate citizenship at SunGard, a $4.5 billion Fortune 500 software and technology services company with operations in 30 countries. There, Whinsant was responsible for corporate sustainability governance, company-wide energy and greenhouse gas management, waste reduction initiatives, employee and stakeholder engagement, and sustainability reporting. After making the 8,500-mile move from New York City to the Philippines, Whisnant is now a key player in PEMSEA’s blue economy initiative. He launched a new PEMSEA brand and communication capabilities to better leverage the positive impact of sustainability with government and corporate partners, and he is developing strategies to establish and enact integrated coastal management plans. Bringing principles of conservation finance and impact investment to the South Asian seas, Whisnant is leading PEMSEA’s current work to establish an innovative ocean investment fund and forthcoming research on the opportunities for finance related to “blue” carbon sequestered by ocean ecosystems. PEMSEA Introductory Video from PEMSEA on Vimeo.