Saleem Ali

Saleem AliDirector of the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining at the University of Queensland Australia and Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources; adjunct faculty of Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies.

“Environmental issues have the power to unify groups with seemingly irreconcilable differences. Shared concerns about resources and conservation can help resolve even bitter conflicts.”

As an environmentalist, Saleem Ali’s goal is to find solutions in the conflicts between resource use and conservation. He proposes that we must accept our need to consume, but warns that we must also conserve. In evaluating the impact of using resources, he argues that there is a way to consume responsibly and alleviate global poverty.

Resolving environmental conflicts requires the ability to appreciate and value the opinions of all involved parties: the environmentalist, industrialist, indigenous people, government and product innovator. For Ali, environmental conservation can only succeed if all parties communicate and collaborate.
His work focuses on the causes and consequences of environmental conflicts and how ecological factors can promote peace. His most recent book is titled “Treasures of the Earth: Need, Greed and a Sustainable Future.”

Ali believes that natural resources can help relieve the effects of poverty, and uncharacteristic of some environmentalists, argues that extracting minerals, gems and oil may be necessary to launch economies. These beliefs should not surprise – he argues for inclusion of all interests, including corporate interests.

“Some conservationists think corporations are inherently evil,” he says. “I don’t see it that way. I’m willing to work with companies to make sure they are part of the solution. Regulation is crucial, but it should spur innovation.”

While there is much cause for worry with the environment, Ali takes a long view. Concern? Yes. Hopeless? No.

“I don’t have an apocalyptic vision of society. I remain optimistic about human resilience; our ability to adapt and confront new circumstances. Thousands and thousands of years ago, a huge volcanic eruption in Sumatra destroyed much of early human civilization. Only a few thousand Homo sapiens survived… yet here we are today.”

Ali received his doctorate in environmental planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an M.E.S. in environmental law and policy from Yale University. He is involved in many nonprofit organizations that promote environmental peace-building and was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2011 and an Emerging Explorer by the National Geographic Society in 2010. His most recent book is “Treasures of the Earth: Need, Greed and a Sustainable Future.”

Twitter: @saleem_ali

Saleem Ali at the 2013 BLE