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Focus Areas

We thrive in complex systems. We design processes to address interconnected issues and foster long-term durability.

We work across systems, issues, and geographies

We specialize in a wide range of focus areas, including Climate Action, Food Systems, Health & Wellbeing, Life on Land, Oceans & Freshwater, and Technology & Society. But more importantly, we know how to navigate the complex systems that connect these and other issues.

The challenges we face are constantly shifting, so we keep an eye to the future by leaning into emerging issues and opportunities. When it comes to dynamic systems, we remain flexible, adaptive, and ready to navigate complexity.

Learn more about our approach to systems change from our CEO, Todd Barker.


Our work prioritizes people, the planet, and prosperity for all

Since our early days, we've said, "If it's related to the environment, we work on it." However, when we say 'environment', we mean 'people' in addition to the planet. When we're working on issues like sustainable forest management, water reuse, or fisheries, we're thinking about the people, habitats, and natural systems that interact with the challenges at hand. We’re also strategizing how we can create a more livable future for all of us, which requires economic transformation.


We put the wellbeing of people at the center of our projects. We work towards creating an inclusive, equitable, and just society that prioritizes the needs and rights of every individual.


We take a systems approach to mitigating the impacts of climate change, preserving the health of our ecosystems, and ensuring we have enough healthy and nutritious food to feed a growing global population.


A sustainable future requires an economic system that improves livelihoods in a way that's environmentally responsible and socially inclusive. We cannot improve our collective wellbeing on a business-as-usual path.

Our projects operate at the nexus of multiple issues

Given the complexity of our partnerships, most of our projects operate at the nexus of multiple issues. While we have spent the last 25 years honing our expertise in the focus areas listed below, where we truly excel is in navigating complex systems.

Mitigating the effects of climate change requires effective communication and collaboration across all affected groups, from environmental advocates and Indigenous leaders to policymakers and corporate CEOs. We bring these groups together to forge strategic alliances, build capacity, and implement shared roadmaps for action.

Our diverse portfolio of climate-related work includes:

  • Global, national, and state climate change policy
  • Clean energy technology advancement
  • Sustainable forest management
  • Community climate adaptation planning
  • Water sector climate adaptation

We work on an extensive array of food system issues, both aquatic and terrestrial, including:

  • Climate, resilience, and natural resources
  • Big data and AI
  • Food, nutrition, and health
  • Supply chain sustainability
  • Conservation and risk
  • Banking and finance
  • Agricultural development
  • Fisheries and aquaculture
  • Sustainable, equitable management of ocean and coastal resources

We connect leaders from across sectors to forge new partnerships, helping them move beyond polarized debates into constructive discussion.

We have managed collaborative problem-solving efforts on a range of health-related subjects, including:

  • Intellectual property rights for medicines
  • Pandemic preparedness and planning
  • Healthcare worker shortages
  • Aflatoxins (natural compounds, caused by mold, that have widespread negative impacts on health, trade, and food security in Africa)
  • Health care coverage for the uninsured in the United States
  • Human health effects of antibiotic use in livestock

To address these kinds of complex challenges, we see opportunities to connect the health sector with partners in food, agriculture, and trade. For example, transnational food safety requires coordination across borders and among producers, processors, retailers, and regulators. Obesity prevention requires a similarly collaborative effort to make nutritious food available to the end consumer, involving a complex network of actors. Finding solutions to these kinds of cross-sector, interconnected problems is one of our specialties.

With long-standing relationships in diverse sectors (including timber, mining, energy development, and conservation) and communities (including tribes and indigenous people, recreation groups, and scientists), we bring the right people together to address the mounting challenges of preserving life on land.

We have expertise in the political and institutional landscapes surrounding issues such as:

  • Competing use and management priorities on public lands
  • Hazardous waste and Superfund site cleanup
  • Science-driven adaptive management
  • Corporate sustainability
  • Mining and energy production
  • Outdoor access and recreation

Our projects also re-envision traditional approaches to land use and drive transformative forest policies in the U.S. and around the globe:

  • Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, including support for REDD and REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation)
  • Decisions in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
  • Designing, refining, and implementing corporate commitments to deforestation-free supply chains, such as beef, soy, and palm oil
  • Identifying options for sustainable timber harvesting and forest management on public lands
  • Developing indicators for sustainable forest management and methodologies for evaluating competing forest certification standards
  • Ensuring sustainable economies for communities reliant on forest resources

We convene leading thinkers and practitioners to broker information and share water management solutions. We develop actions, policies, and partnerships that contribute to the preservation of our oceans, fisheries, and coastal areas. We help research, synthesize, and implement the latest thinking on crucial water issues including:

  • Water reuse
  • The food-energy-water nexus
  • Nutrient management
  • River restoration
  • Water utility climate adaptation
  • Fisheries and aquaculture (including acidification and overfishing)
  • Plastic pollution
  • Offshore energy
  • Military use

For more than a decade, we’ve pioneered innovative solutions to complex marine challenges. Our facilitation and strategic support of the groundbreaking U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy created a strong foundation for domestic ocean policy collaboration. We have also worked with state and regional leaders, becoming experts in generating and sustaining the collaboration required to improve ocean and coastal management. Most recently, we have supported collaboration on ocean policy and action in Indonesia and Mexico.

We have substantive knowledge of advanced agricultural technologies (e.g. gene editing and biotechnology), nanotechnology, advanced renewable energy technologies, and information technologies. Within these topics, we focus on the implications of emerging areas of science and technology for society. We convene and facilitate collaborative discussions relating to productive and safe use, as well as appropriate regulation.

Brokering productive exchanges early in the rollout of a new technology is critical. In doing so, we work with a broad range of stakeholders:

  • Scientists and researchers in the public, private, and nonprofit realms
  • Policy makers
  • Development workers
  • Tech companies
  • Citizens
  • Others who have an interest in how scientific knowledge or new technologies will be used and applied

Explore some of our recent work

Learn how we help our partners tackle critical environmental and social issues by exploring some of our recent work below. Don’t see a project example that resembles the unique challenge you’re facing? Get in touch with us, and we’ll explain how we can tailor our skills and services to suite your needs. 

Our Services

For over 25 years, we have been a trusted partner to diverse organizations, businesses, governments, and institutions. Learn how we tailor our services to meet their unique needs.