Ira Feldman is a US-based sustainability leader with an interdisciplinary skill set and a global reach. He has over 25 years experience as an attorney and consultant focusing on environmental regulatory innovation (e.g., alternatives to “command and control” regulation), strategic environmental management, sustainable business practices and corporate social responsibility. Ira’s substantive work has explored the role of ESG (environment-social-governance) factors in the financial sector; the implications of “soft law” or “private law” – especially international voluntary standards — for business and government; the use of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) to advance sustainable development and resilience; and, the potential for “blockchain” technology to advance climate adaptation solutions and mobilize finance.
Ira is at the leading edge of the convergence of sustainability, climate adaptation and ecosystem services. He teaches these topics at the City University of New York (CUNY) in the Sustainability in the Urban Environment program; at Fordham University in the Gabelli School of Business; and at George Mason University in Environmental Science & Policy. To advance the state of play in sustainability in higher education, Ira founded the not-for-profit Sustainability Curriculum Consortium (SCC) in 2015 and continues to serve as its Managing Director.
In the climate adaptation space, Ira co-chaired the Policy Committee of the American Society of Adaptation Professionals (ASAP), the professional society for climate adaptation and resilience; served as the climate adaptation lead for the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute (GHGMI) and, in the international ISO process (TC207 SC7), he chaired the Adaptation Task Force (ATF), which developed the roadmap for a suite of climate adaptation standards. Ira’s leadership and work in the climate adaptation community of practice also includes: developing and delivering the graduate-level climate adaptation course at Penn; establishing the “Climate Adaptation Scholars” ™ group on LinkedIn (currently with over 2900 members in 160 countries), transitioning the group (now known as CAPPS ™) to the Collaborase platform, and curating its over 80 substantive discussion threads; writing and editing the e-textbook, The Challenge of Climate Adaptation, for Trunity Publishing; serving on the Adaptation Working Group of the State of Maryland’s Climate Commission and advising on adaptation planning processes in Florida and Alaska; and, introducing climate adaptation to the practicing legal community in the US through his leadership role in the American Bar Association (ABA).
A past chair of the ABA-SEER Climate Change, Sustainable Development & Ecosystems Committee, Ira also served on the ABA President’s Task Force on Sustainable Development in 2013-15. Reflecting the depth and breadth of his expertise, Ira has served on the advisory boards of such diverse organizations as the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL); the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE); the Sustainability Accounting Advisory Board (SASB); and the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP). He has long played a leading role in defining future domestic policy directions through his participation in environmental management and sustainability policy initiatives such as the President’s Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD) and the Multi-state Working Group on Environmental Performance (MSWG).
As team leader or in partnership with other consultancies and law firms, Ira has assisted governmental entities, multilateral organizations, think tanks, corporate trade associations and SME’s, on a wide range of implementation, policy development, and training activities. He led in the development of corporate voluntary excellence programs, environmental performance tools and strategies, and international voluntary standards such as the ISO 14000 series, ISO 26000 and GRI. Previously, as Special Counsel at US EPA headquarters, he pioneered new enforcement settlement approaches; developed the Agency’s audit and self-disclosure policy; and was the architect of EPA’s first corporate voluntary excellence program.
Ira is committed to advancing sustainability thinking in the US through policy initiatives and electoral politics; bringing clarity and coherence to the emerging field of sustainability professionals; assisting colleges and universities with faculty and curriculum development for sustainability in higher education; and remaining an active contributor and innovator in the sustainability and climate dialogue.