Upcoming MIIS Conference “Trade and the Environment: The Value Proposition of Greening a Business“

By Damon Shulenberger

Most conferences and events held at MIIS feature keywords such as “nuclear“ and “sustainability“ that make it clear which campus organization is putting them on.  What then to make of the upcoming conference ”Trade and the Environment: The Value Proposition of Greening a Business“? 

Considering the current merging of the business, trade and environmental policy programs into the Graduate School of International Policy and Management, the interdisciplinary theme may not be entirely accidental. Given the conflux of business, environmental and trade strategies the Obama administration is employing to stimulate the US economy through “greentech” it may even be trendy.  Consider as well the background of International Trade and Commercial Diplomacy Club President and conference organizer Melissa Nguyen.  Having spent considerable time with the Peace Corps on the South Pacific island country of Vanuatu, she is currently working on an international trade policy/ business dual degree.  To her, the idea of blending of business, trade and environmental issues into one potent brew is quite possibly a no-brainer. 

Nguyen was kind enough to furnish us with an official description of the conference: 

“The Value Proposition of Greening a Business” is an interdisciplinary conference meant to engage the international business and MIIS academic communities in a conversation about international trade and the environment. We will discuss the current economic and political implications of approaching business ventures from an environmentally conscious perspective. Recent trends to implement methods in sustainability, climate change, clean tech, green business, and corporate social responsibility at the international level will be the discussion buzzwords of the day.  This dynamic event aims to inform the MIIS community and beyond of efforts being made to increase the visibility of the link between trade and environment issues.  This event is co-sponsored by the International Trade and Commercial Diplomacy Club, Monterey Institute of International Studies, Net Impact Monterey Chapter, and the Monterey Bay International Trade Association.

Beyond the buzzwords––why the focus on trade, business and the environment? Nguyen explained that she worked last year on the trade club-sponsored “Business Strategies with China” conference. Though event was a success, she felt at the time that it focused too much on trade and didn`t go far enough in “creating an interdisciplinary feel on campus”. Nguyen got the idea of expanding the conference to include the environment primarily because of the myriad of local green resources––both on campus and throughout Northern California–– available to tap into.  

Keynote speaker former-ambassador Alan Wolff will kick the conference off with a talk on “International Trade & Climate Change: Opportunities & Risks”.  Wolff was US Trade Representative (USTR) deputy director during the Carter administration and has enjoyed an extensive relationship with MIIS over the years. It was he who introduced Geza Feketekuty of the US International Trade Commission (ITC) to MIIS in the early 1990`s, indirectly leading to the creation of the Commercial Diplomacy program.  

  Another MIIS relationship to be renewed through the conference is with panelist Dawei Cheng.  A Master of Arts in Commercial Diplomacy graduate of MIIS and Fullbright Scholar, Cheng is currently Chief Expert at the Beijing WTO Affairs Center. Cheng participated in the “China business” conference last year and this year will be attending as part of a delegation of four members of the Beijing WTO Affairs Center.  According to Corey McAveeney, in charge of conference logistics and promotion, this presents MIIS the opportunity to build stronger ties with the Beijing center.  Indeed, she hopes the conference will be instrumental in establishing lasting relationships between all conference participants and the Monterey Institute.  

Scheduled sessions:

I.The WTO and Global Environmental Policy – This panel will address the current policy issues regarding international trade and the environment. Areas of discussion include: environmental standards, multilateral agreements conflicting with the WTO, climate change and whether agricultural subsidies lead to sustainable agricultural production.

Moderated by Nevin Rosaasen, MAITP


Dr. Dawei Cheng 

Dr. Timothy Josling, professor of agriculture at Stanford University. Formerly of London School of Economics.

Dr. Jason Scorse, MIIS professor, IEP and advisor to the Joint US-China Cooperation on Clean Energy (JUCCE).

Dr. Lyuba Zarsky, MIIS professor, IEP.

Moderator and first year trade policy student Nevin Rosaasen was kind enough to provide a preview of the questions that will be asked of panelists participating in this session. Cheng will be asked about the “race to the bottom“ that occurs when certain countries have comparative advantages in the production of goods or services by maintaining lower environmental standards.  Zarsky will be asked about the often problematic––yet potentially constructive––interaction between international trade agreements and environmental issues. Scorse will be asked to unravel the complicated world of carbon trading and tax systems and point towards an integrated global policy on carbon emissions. Josling will be asked about developed country agricultural subsidy programs and and their effects on sustainable agricultural practices.


II. Green Trends in Silicon Valley – This panel will discuss how private, public, and non-profit organizations headquartered in the innovation hotbed of the U.S. are incorporating sustainability and corporate social responsibility in their operations.

Moderated by Elizabeth Rogers, MAIEP


Dr. Bruce Paton, adjunct professor at the MIIS Fisher School of Business, and board chair of the organization Sustainable Silicon Valley.  

Ken Pearlman, founder of Ocean Shore Ventures, a venture capital organization that funds renewable energy projects.

Brett Galimidi, a partner at the Social Venture Technology Group, focusing on social returns on investment.


III. Greening Your Supply Chain – This panel will discuss how businesses are addressing transparency and accountability measures within global and social-cultural standards when implementing socially responsible supply chains.

Moderated by Clayton Snyder, MAIEP/MBA


Randy Kritkausky, founder of ECOLOGIA (ECOlogists Linked for Organizing Grassroots Initiatives and Action), a company private, non-profit organization providing information, training, and technical support for grassroots environmental groups.  Focus on international standards for socially responsible supply chain management.

Dr. Charles Fishel, senior lecturer at San Jose State University, founder of Abundant Biofuels. Former MIIS professor.

Nicole Basset of Patagonia 

Closing remarks will be from the executive director of the WTO Beijing Affairs Center, Dr. Zhong Qing on “Trade Policy Regime in China: An Environment Protection Perspective”.

Don`t neglect to mark down this exciting and free annual event down in your calendar.  We are expecting to fill the Irvine Auditorium so register online at http://www.miis.edu/tradeconference to reserve a conference packet and seat.


The Value Proposition of Greening a Business

When: Friday, April 17 2009

9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Where: Irvine Auditorium

Monterey Institute of International Studies

460 Pierce Street


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