At Yale, debating the ethics of extractive industries

We recently wrapped up the Yale Business Ethics Conference–something I’ve been helping plan since last year.

The coolest thing about this event wasn’t the caliber of the speakers, which I found astonishing, but rather how accessible they were.  If you’ve ever wanted to debate the role of business in society with a former Fed Chairman, a former president of the World Bank, or a former president of Mexico, email me at and I'll send you an invitation to next year's conference.

I organized a panel entitled “The Ethics of Extractive Industries.”  Ken Cohen, ExxonMobil’s VP of Government and Public Affairs, presented the perspective of the world’s most profitable oil company.  Ernesto Zedillo, former president of Mexico, explained the connections between oil, power, development, and corruption in Mexico.  Peter Rosenblum moderated; he’s a professor and activist who focuses on the nexus between natural resources and human rights.  Fireworks ensued–respectful, thought-provoking fireworks.  I think this was one of those rare panels that actually got the audience to think differently (or at least deeply).  Our other esteemed panelists were Joe Bell, who has practiced natural resource law for 40 years and advises Liberia, Mongolia, and other sovereign states on resource governance, and Keith Phillips, a deal-maker who has run the mining coverage groups at Morgan Stanley and three other investment banks.

I wish I could share more about the substance (and tensions) on the panel, but Chatham House rules applied. 

In the future, I hope to write more about how and why commodities supply must grow to meet rising demand, the human and environmental complications that arise during exploration and production, and what companies and governments are doing to balance economic, environmental, and human rights imperatives.

Views: 190


You need to be a member of Global Ethics Network to add comments!

Join Global Ethics Network

Carnegie Council

A Case for Giving Climate Migrants Protected Legal Status

With climate change already affecting vast regions of the planet, Bard College's Brian Mateo makes the case for expanding legal protections for refugees to include people displaced due to environmental issues. Whether by updating the 1951 Convention or working on a new global agreement, Mateo writes that this an urgent human rights issue for vulnerable populations today and future generations.

Need for a New Consensus

Foreign policy experts are having diffuclty linking the negative implications of a shift towards trasactionalism for U.S. foreign aid to voters. This begs the question: Should there be a clear quid pro quo for U.S. assistance?

The End of the U.S.-Taliban Talks? with Jonathan Cristol

Despite progress over the last year, Donald Trump effectively ended the latest round of U.S.-Taliban negotiations with a tweet earlier this month. Will talks continue in a more understated way? Does this change anything on the ground in Afghanistan? And what is the Taliban doing in Moscow? Jonathan Cristol, author of "The United States and the Taliban before and after 9/11," discusses all this and more.





© 2019   Created by Carnegie Council.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

The views and opinions expressed in the media, comments, or publications on this website are those of the speakers or authors and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions held by Carnegie Council.