It’s been quite a week in Washington, D.C., with all the activities surrounding the start of President Barack Obama’s second term. The President’s inauguration speech on Monday spoke to the need for a collective effort on many fronts, including pursuing a sustainable future for our planet.
President Obama declared, “The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it… That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.”
Those of us at SFI – not just our staff, but the thousands of people who work for our program participants and support SFI in myriad ways – know that our forests are a key piece of the path towards sustainability. Healthy, working forests provide clean air and water, timber for everyday products, habitat for wildlife, and jobs for thriving communities. We also are increasingly looking to responsibly-managed forests for the role they play in a clean energy future – sequestering carbon and providing fiber for electricity, heat, and transportation fuels.
Our nation’s forests even had a role to play in the inauguration itself, as President Obama took the oath of office on a platform constructed with lumber certified to the SFI Standard, provided by Sierra Pacific Industries.
The sustainability connection continued into the inaugural ball festivities, specifically the “Green Inaugural Ball”, which brought together the broad environmental, conservation and clean tech community. SFI was a proud sponsor of this event; other sponsors included the National Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, American Forest Foundation, Audubon, Union of Concerned Scientists, and several others. Several major political leaders offered remarks at the event, including the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior, the EPA Administrator, and Members of Congress.
The event hummed with palpable energy about the many opportunities for the public, private and nonprofit sectors to work together toward a more sustainable future — with a shared knowledge that a lot of work still lies ahead. It was heartening to see so many friends and partners who share our commitment to responsible forestry today and into the future.