CIPA fellows present at Cornell Business Impact Symposium

In this post Elif Senvardarli, a second year CIPA fellow focusing in Environmental Policy, shares her recent experience presenting research at Cornell Business Impact Symposium with fellow CIPA students. Leveraging both her coursework and her work in the Environmental Finance and Impact Investing certification, Elif brought together important ideas about financing sustainable fisheries. In her own words, here’s Elif!

We, the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs (CIPA) Environmental Finance and Impact Investing (EFII) Fellows, presented our research at the Cornell Business Impact Symposium (CBIS) on March 25, 2017. (I know — that’s a lot of acronyms.) While we are still working on finalizing our conclusions and recommendations, this was a great opportunity to present our work in financing sustainable fisheries.

CBIS is an annual, student-organized regional event that brings together student leaders and professionals from around the northeastern United States that focus on the impact of the private sector in achieving a more sustainable economy. The symposium included panel discussions on sustainable food systems, impact entrepreneurship, role of technology, labor and human rights along supply chains, among others. The day-long event ended with a student poster session where we presented our current research.


My passion in public administration lies in the stewardship of our natural resources, especially in an international development context. Having worked in the public sector for a number of years, I knew coming to Cornell that I wanted to focus on the role of the private sector in achieving environmental and development goals. The Environmental Finance and Impact Investing (EFII) certificate program, offered both through CIPA and the Johnson Business School, has allowed me to understand the role of private capital in moving forward sustainability objectives.

As part of the practicum requirement for the EFII certificate program, we are working on identifying best practices in conservation finance and applying these to the fisheries industry. This is an especially interesting field at this moment. There is growing interest among investors looking to diversify their portfolios and make investments that have both environmental and social returns, along with financial. There are a number of new environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria being established for investors that want to finance sustainable fisheries. Our task is to draw lessons-learned from similar industries so that they can be applied to the fisheries. Considering that over 3 billion people rely on fish as their primary source of protein and that more than 85% of world’s fisheries have been over exploited, the sustainable management of our fisheries is essential to preserve our ecosystems, food sources, and livelihoods for millions of people.

There are a number of sustainability focused organizations at the university, like the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise, Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, and the soon to be formed Center for Transportation, Environment and Community Health (CTECH). The CBIS event was great in bringing together the Cornell community that care about sustainability, including current students, alumni, professors, and professionals that are all passionate about this subject. It was an exciting opportunity to represent CIPA at such a conference and share our research with others.

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