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It was a bit of a shake-up in February 2010 when the Quadrennial Defense Review of the DoD listed resource scarcity and climate change as primary threats to global security. Now the defense sector is rolling out means of planning, strategizing, and reducing the use of resources. In many cases, what’s good for the environment also cuts costs and streamlines activities.
Daniel Kreeger, Executive Director of the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO) outlines the relatively new position of “Climate Change Officer.” In a recent carbon disclosure project, professionals concerned with climate management came from as many as eleven different organization silos, from supply-chain management to public relations.
Where many functions have been traditionally the provenance of one officer, and a commander’s term averages two years, coordination locally and across forces is smoothing the way and building awareness of sustainability issues. The Army and Navy are establishing environmental policies and establishing scoring and benchmarks.
Kreeger points out the DoD has traditionally been a test bed and market maker for many technologies, including flat screens, GPS, fiber optic communications, and even the internet. Innovations in green technology will undoubtedly follow.
To achieve broad social impact, we need systemic solutions. This requires government to lead with an outcomes-focused approach that embraces data and technology, aligns financial incentives, learns from policy failures and successes, and acts on new knowledge about what works.