James Griffiths operates as an independent international sustainability advisor based in Geneva, Switzerland. He works with global business and non-business groups on solving challenges and developing opportunities associated with natural resource investment, management and use including sustainable supply chains, independent performance assessment, stakeholder engagement and public-private partnerships. Clients have included the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Sustainable Biomass Partnership, PEFC International, BirdLife International, The Forests Dialogue @ Yale University, Pöyry Consulting & the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).
James has a 35 year work history in the government, business and non-government sectors primarily with an international focus, including experience as a business advocate for sustainable development (Managing Director, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Geneva, Switzerland), trade association executive (Chief Executive, New Zealand Forest Industries Council, Wellington, New Zealand), diplomat (New Zealand Consul & Trade Commissioner, New York, NY, USA), trade negotiator (Executive Officer, Department of Trade & Industry, Wellington, New Zealand), forest products marketer (Product Manager, New Zealand Forest Products Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand), assistant lecturer (University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, USA) and industrial policy advisor (Department of Trade & Industry, Wellington, New Zealand).
At WBCSD (2002-2014) he led the Council’s work on natural capital including the establishment of biodiversity, water, forestry and agribusiness programs and development of ecosystem risk assessment, management and valuation tools for global companies, mostly in partnership with nature conservation organizations.
He provided a global business voice at range of multilateral environment agreements, conferences and platforms with Governments (political leaders, policy advisors and regulators) including UNFCCC, UNCBD, UNCCD, UNREDD, FAO, World Conservation Congress, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and UNEP’s The Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity (TEEB).
This is based on extensive knowledge and work experience with leadership multi-stakeholder and public policy platforms as well as influential public interest groups - including the OECD, Chatham House, WEF, WWF International, World Resources Institute, Conservation International and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) - and a clear understanding of the challenges and opportunities for capital investors and commercial corporations in delivering sustainable goods and services to meet societal needs.
With a proven ability to build, mentor, motivate and lead staff, James has led many project teams focused on the conceptualization and production of advocacy reports and decision-making tools for sustainable business solutions and public policy options, often with external partners.
While at WBCSD this included the Sustainable Procurement of Wood & Paper based Products Guide (2008), Sustainable Forest Finance Toolkit (2010), Sustainable Forest Products Industry, Carbon and Climate Change – Key messages for Policy Makers (2011), Guide to Corporate Ecosystem Valuation (2011), Public Policy Options to scale up biodiversity conservation, sustainable management and use (2012), and Recommendations on Biomass Carbon Neutrality (2013) as well as his long term involvement in The Forests Dialogue, hosted at Yale University, looking at critical sustainable forest management challenges and opportunities.
James is used to working across organizations, sectors and stakeholders including interactions with C-suite and Ministerial level decision makers. He is able to generate, manage and monitor project budgets. With well-developed people management and facilitation skills, he has a track record for achieving consensus between different stakeholders – including competitor companies and public regulators – to undertake co-operative strategy development and, when practical, joint action. He has served on many advisory boards and committees focused on natural resource management and use, providing a sustainable business perspective including UN system, private sector, civil society as well as multi-stakeholder based processes.
James holds New Zealand and UK passports and has been based in Geneva since 2002 (Swiss C permit). He has degrees in Psychology, Political Science and International Relations from Victoria University (Wellington, New Zealand) and Political Science from the University of Hawaii (Honolulu, Hawaii, USA). Since 2015 he has been an expert member of IUCN’s Commission on Environmental, Economic & Social Policy (CEESP). He recently joined the Advisory Board of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Bioenergy Task Group. James also works in cooperation with Ohela Consulting, a European public affairs advisory services focused on EU regulatory processes, sustainability and corporate responsibility.
James is interested in connecting with New Zealand based business seeking international sustainability advice to support transformation of operations and enhanced delivery of goods and services to global markets, including board level and long term consultancy operations.