VIDEO: Session 3: Sustainability, Resource Extraction, and Social License to Operate

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Event Date



Martz Winter Symposium (1st: 2014: Boulder, Colo.)


This session will discuss the growing discussion of the "social license to operate" concept, as used in natural resources development, including hard rock mining, and oil and gas development. The topic will examine carefully ongoing conflicts in the United States regarding local control over shale gas development and examine the perspective of American Indian tribes as to their concerns over a lack of a "shared value" perspective.


2:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

SESSION 3: Sustainability, Resource Extraction, and Social License to Operate

Moderator: Britt Banks, Executive Director, Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment


Kristen Carpenter, Associate Professor and Director, American Indian Law Program, University of Colorado Law School

Vickie Patton, General Counsel, Environmental Defense Fund

Elaine Dorward-King, Executive Vice President of Sustainability and External Relations, Newmont Mining Corporation

Bill Ritter, Director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University, former Governor of Colorado


Britt Banks

Streaming Media


For more than two decades, sustainability has gained currency as a broad organizing principle for efforts to develop and use energy, natural resources, and the environment in ways that allow society to meet its needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. More recently, sustainability has been embraced by businesses across multiple sectors as part of a broader movement of corporate social responsibility. Hardly a day goes by without news of another corporate initiative on sustainability. Much of the enthusiasm for sustainability in the business community has been centered in “new economy” sectors and among retail giants such as Wal-Mart. Much of it has likewise been motivated by the realization that companies can actually save money by embracing more sustainable practices.

In the traditional natural resources industries, there is an increasing recognition of the considerable challenges facing efforts to operationalize this broad concept in the context of resource extraction and development. In the long run, the promise of sustainability will depend on the natural resource industries—those that provide energy, water, fiber, and raw materials for a growing population—translating this concept into action.

This conference will draw together people from different disciplines and backgrounds to discuss the specific challenges confronting efforts to operationalize sustainability in the context of natural resource industries broadly understood. The symposium will discuss the idea of sustainability and how it is taking shape in particular places and sectors; rigorously explore current efforts to re-organize certain business practices under the rubric of sustainability; and endeavor to identify practical, meaningful actions to deepen ongoing efforts to make sustainability a central tenet of our economic, social, and environmental future.