Ken Toong Participates in Discussion On Preserving Natural Resources

Ken Toong, executive director of auxiliary enterprises, was a key participant in a roundtable discussion of sustainability and preserving natural resources held in New York City and sponsored by Atlantic magazine. The Oct. 9 event was underwritten by the Rockefeller Foundation.

The discussion, held at Palace Hotel in New York City, included Toong along with officials from TIME magazine, Bloomberg, Morgan Stanley, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Center for American Progress, Johns Hopkins University and the Rockefeller Foundation. UMass Amherst represented large volume food services and was the only school invited from the campus-dining segment, Toong says.

“I talked about UMass Dining program’s efforts to support a sustainable New England food system and I discussed food insecurity issues and the local foods and farm-to-table movement,” Toong says.

Gathered around a single table and in a conversational format, the group focused on changing the way society values natural resources. Steve Clemons, Washington editor-at-large for The Atlantic, led the discussion and encouraged attendees to participate.

Among the issues that were reviewed was how to overcome the idea of ecosystems as “free” resources and the need to increase responsibility for their care on a local and international level.

There was also talk about how to align science with policy. Given that the impact of current changes to the environment may not be apparent until years down the line, participants were asked how to develop policies that take into account the rate and scope of ecosystem destruction without being able to fully gauge the inertia of current practices.

Other issues included how best to harness the power of for-profit impact investments to address specific environmental problems while also providing the profit that drives struggling economies.

In addition, there was discussion on how to change current practices on farms and in fisheries to become environmentally sustainable while maintaining their current economic and commercial services.