Last month saw the selection of Steven Rhines as the Noble Research Institute’s new president and chief executive officer. Steve takes the baton from outgoing CEO Bill Buckner, who retired at the end of 2018. Steve has been with Noble for almost two decades, most recently serving as its vice president, general counsel and director of public affairs.
In recent years at Noble, Bill had spearheaded the creation of the Ecosystem Services Market (ESM) program, an ambitious national effort to incentivize farmers and ranchers to improve soil health systems through a large-scale program to finance, generate and sell ecosystem service credits from agricultural working lands.
Bill plans to continue supporting the advancement of the ESM program and will work with the ESM team to execute on the project plans and broaden the engagement of strategic partners with a shared vision for improving soil health.
The collective effort over the course of 2018 has significantly advanced the ESM program. The draft integrated ESM protocol has been completed and an assembly of high-profile companies in the food and beverage sectors and leading environmental organizations have signaled their intent to join the ESM consortium as founding members and partners.
Noble will continue to contribute to the ESM consortium initiative through its research as well as its land stewardship and producer education programs. This month, Noble transferred its work and management of the project to the ESM consortium, which will be housed at the Soil Health Institute.
To capitalize on the momentum, Debbie Reed has accepted the role as executive director for the ESM consortium beginning February 1 2019. Debbie has a rich background in providing technical, policy and strategic support to a range of organizations in the areas of agricultural climate change mitigation and sustainable food and agriculture. She is also the Executive Director of the Coalition on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (C-AGG), the leading US multi-stakeholder organization focused on creating voluntary, sustainable incentive-based climate change mitigation and ecosystem service market opportunities for the agricultural sector.
The ESM program is currently launching a pilot test of its integrated ecosystem credit protocol on 50,000 acres of rangeland and farmland in Texas and Oklahoma. ESM members and partners will roll out new pilots across the US landscape in 2019 and beyond. By 2022 the Program will encompass all major agricultural production systems and geographies in the US.
We hope you join us for the webinar update on 2/22 when we will share our progress to-date and answer any of your questions.