Robert Bonnie

  • Robert Bonnie

Robert Bonnie

Former Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture

As a Rubenstein Fellow, Bonnie is working with students and faculty to address issues related to climate change and natural resource conservation, with a focus on rural America.

Through the Nicholas Institute’s Catalyst Program, Bonnie leads a project that is assessing rural attitudes on the environment in order to identify ways of engaging rural Americans – who manage large portions of America’s lands and watersheds – in collaborative solutions to addressing environmental challenges. Bonnie also led a 2017-18 Bass Connections project team that developed policy proposals to meet the goals of the Mid-Century Decarbonization plan and is leading a second Bass Connections project team in 2018-19 titled Rethinking the Endangered Species Act’s Implementation on Private, Working Lands. Bonnie also teaches courses in the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Sanford School of Public Policy.

Biography

From August 2013 to January 2017, Robert Bonnie was the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In this role, Bonnie oversaw the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service on a variety of natural resource issues, including management of the 193 million acre National Forest and Grassland System, implementation of Farm Bill conservation programs on America's farms, ranches and forests, and climate change. From April 2009 to July 2013, Bonnie served as Senior Advisor to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for environment and climate change. Prior to joining the USDA, Mr. Bonnie was Vice President for Land Conservation for the Environmental Defense Fund where he focused on developing incentives to reward farmers, ranchers and forest owners for stewardship activities on private lands. Mr. Bonnie has master degrees in forestry and environmental management from Duke University. He grew up on a farm in Kentucky and now lives in Virginia.

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Robert Bonnie News & Events

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27Mar, 2017

Faculty-Student Team Finds Insights on Environmental Attitudes Could Help Lessen Urban-Rural Divide

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Duke Environment | Fall 2018 Issue By Sergio Tovar Policymakers increasingly recognize America’s urban-rural divide as a major obstacle for gaining widespread public support for stronger government protections for the climate and the environment. A new analysis by a Duke University faculty-student team found that the way policies are designed, communicated and framed can be key…

27Mar, 2017

U.S. Climate Report Warns of Damaged Environment and Shrinking Economy

Monday, November 26, 2018

The New York Times | November 23, 2018 By Coral Davenport and Kendra Pierre-Louis WASHINGTON — A major scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies on Friday presents the starkest warnings to date of the consequences of climate change for the United States, predicting that if significant steps are not taken to rein in global warming, the damage…

27Mar, 2017

Trump's Tweets on Deadly Fires Prompt Backlash in California

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Bloomberg | November 13, 2018 By Christopher Flavelle President Donald Trump’s insistence that poor forest management by California is responsible for the state’s deadly wildfires has fueled a backlash by officials who say it is misleading and ignores the fact that most of the public woodlands in the state are federally managed.Trump’s tweet also clashed…

"The Rubenstein Fellowship has provided me with a tremendous opportunity to work with faculty and students at the Nicholas School, the Nicholas Institute and the Sanford School to explore challenges in environmental conservation in rural America and to develop new policy approaches that can work for both rural constituencies and the environment."
- Robert Bonnie, 2017-19 Rubenstein Fellow

"One of the best parts of my Duke experience is that I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with people like Robert Bonnie, who are incredible leaders and experts in their fields … Robert has brought his substantial insider knowledge of environmental issues and politics in the US to our project, and has helped guide our team towards recommendations for carbon sequestration policies that might actually make a difference on a national scale."

Kendall DeLyser

Master of Environmental Management / Master of Forestry, Class of 2018

"Working with Robert on issues at the intersection of agriculture and climate change has been one of the highlights of my time as a graduate student at Duke. Having access to his incredible wealth of knowledge and insight into the policy-making process has been invaluable both to our Bass Connection project and to my broader educational experience here at Duke."

Danielle Arostegui

Master of Environmental Management, Class of 2018