Building Resilient Coastal Companies

Jake Kheel, Vice President Environment, Grupo Puntacana Foundation
Running Time:60 minutes
Event Date(s)
11:00 AM
Friday, November 15
BAC Annex Up

How can companies can become engines of environmental innovation?

Companies can be disruptive agents of change and innovation, breaking paradigms and transforming industries. However, the destructive creativity of companies is rarely used to face the great social and environmental challenges that confront todays’ society. Climate change, probably the most severe of these threats, will have adverse impact on coastal communities. In this talk, we will learn how companies are uniquely positioned to become agents of positive change in building resilient coastal communities.

For over 50 years, Grupo Puntacana in the Dominican Republic has been a pioneer in sustainable tourism. Vice President of Sustainability Jake Kheel will share practical examples of the company’s diverse environmental initiatives that not only protect and restore the local environment, but also help create a more competitive and resilient company in the face of global change. The talk will illustrate key lessons learned in order to motivate other companies to become engines of positive disruption in building resilient communities. From implementing the largest Zero Waste program in the Dominican Republic, to restoring degraded coral reefs, to transforming a resort into a private ecological reserve for endangered species, the experience of Grupo Puntacana is a successful case study in the design and construction of a resilient coastal community.

Today, coastal communities represent a significant percentage of the human population. According to the United Nations, 2.4 billion people (about 40% of the world’s population) live within 60 miles of the coast. The vulnerability of these communities will increase due to their economic dependence on coastal and marine resources for tourism, fishing, and maritime transport. To face this emerging problem, investment, planning and innovation will be required, but equally important will be relying on the lessons of existing experiences.

Jake Kheel is a sustainability innovator, thought-leader, and award-winning documentary filmmaker. For fifteen years he has confronted social and environmental challenges in the tourism industry as Vice President of Grupo Puntacana Foundation in the Dominican Republic. The foundation has received numerous international awards, including awards from World Tourism and Travel Council, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, and National Geographic Traveler.

Jake is also the President of the National Association of Businesses for Environmental Protection (ECORED) in the Dominican Republic, an association of nearly 100 prominent companies committed to sustainability.

Jake directed and produced the award-winning documentary Death by a Thousand Cuts, which explores Dominican-Haitian deforestation and escalating human conflict on the border. The film was acquired by Participant Media and Univision and screened at three dozen international film festivals.