Robert Bonnie

  • Robert Bonnie

Robert Bonnie

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

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

Through Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Catalyst Program, Bonnie led a project to assess rural attitudes on the environment in order to better engage rural Americans – who manage large portions of America’s lands and watersheds – in collaborative solutions to addressing environmental challenges. This work continues today through the Nicholas Institute.

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 a second Bass Connections project team in 2018-19 titled Rethinking the Endangered Species Act’s Implementation on Private, Working Lands. Bonnie also taught courses in the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Sanford School of Public Policy and mentored several Nicholas School Master’s students.

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

Bonnie Joins Nicholas Institute as Executive in Residence

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions | September 12, 2019 The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University is pleased to welcome Robert Bonnie as an executive in residence following a two-year Rubenstein Fellowship at Duke. Bonnie specializes in issues related to climate change and natural resource conservation, with a focus on rural America. “The Nicholas Institute…

27Mar, 2017

Putting America's Forests to Work on Climate Change

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Hill | June 23, 2019 Opinion by Robert Bonnie and Jad Daley With the impacts of a warming planet becoming more apparent every day, climate change is taking center stage in the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Most of the candidates have articulated commitments or released plans to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions…

27Mar, 2017

Agriculture Department Buries Studies Showing Dangers of Climate Change

Sunday, June 23, 2019

POLITICO| June 23, 2019 By Helena Bottemiller Evich The Trump administration has refused to publicize dozens of government-funded studies that carry warnings about the effects of climate change, defying a longstanding practice of touting such findings by the Agriculture Department’s acclaimed in-house scientists. The studies range from a groundbreaking discovery that rice loses vitamins in a…

"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