This is the sustainability conference of the year by Fortune Magazine where preserving the environment is everyone's business.
I spent two days in early May at Fortune Magazine's Brainstorm Green conference, a think tank of big business, inventors, investors major corporations and thought leaders. The conference focused on sustainability and solutions and there was an impressive line up of movers and shakers hammering out passion projects, realized dreams, unrealized goals, realized goals while discussing rational and diverse procedures. Innovation and inspiration unlikely partnerships and the art of the coalition helps get traction.
Harrison Ford- Vice Chair Conservation International
Harrison Ford On His Role at CI-
"One of the distinguishing things about CI for me from the very beginning was our decision to work with business, to work with ‑‑ those partners which at the beginning of our history were thought by many conservation organizations to be the enemy. And we have worked with them consistently over the years to develop best practices, to involve them in mitigation of their impacts. And businesses have understood this much more quickly than governmental authorities have. And business has adapted their practices to understand that if they don't have ‑‑ if they're not protecting their supply side of their business, if they don't have a sustainable supply side their business is going to change and not for the better. But, I mean, trying to get this done with countries you have hundreds of countries come together at these big global conferences, and treaties are very hard to negotiate, and then if you do get a treaty you bring it back here and it doesn't get ratified. So, it's businesses that recognize their self-interest is in acting quickly and getting the job done."
This post offers a few highlights and links to interesting talks and partnerships swirling around the globe from villages to major cities, companies and investment funds thinking about solutions to help businesses create more sustainable solutions. After circling the environmental conference circuit from the entertainment indsutry to the more esoteric, inspired and cloistered world of Bioneers in Marin County or the Environmental Media Awards, it seems that sustainability is the conversation, thread and challenge that interlinks everything and is top of mind for most companies that want to lead by helping the world and being profitable.
Will.i.am contacted Coca-Cola's chief sustainability officer Bea Perez, on stage at the Fortune panel. With them was Dean Kamen, not an Ekocycle partner, but an inventor and founder and president of DEKA Research and Development Corp. Kamen, for most of his career, has worked on medical devices. His latest project with Coke is the Slingshot, a small water purifier that can make 250 gallons of hospital-grade H2O per-day out of impure water. The idea is to install these devices in places around the world with poor access to clean water. In 2011, Kamen and Coke conducted the first field trials of the machine in Ghanaian schools.
Bob MacDonald CEO | Chairman of Proctor and Gamble
The Procter & Gamble CEO has been facing pressure from certain shareholders. But McDonald says that the right kind of investor gets long-term green goals. Here are some quotes from his Fortune Brainstorm speech:
With the purpose of touching and improving lives, you can't help but care for the environment. We believe that taking care of the environment goes hand in hand with everything we do in improving lives. And that's one of the reasons that we've been a company, a successful company, for 175 years is that we always care for the environment as we create new products and new operations.
We have an environmental vision that's very simple. There are four parts to it. We want to power our plants with 100 percent renewable energy. We just opened a new plant in China which is powered with 100 percent renewable energy. Second, we want to use 100 percent renewable materials in our products. Third, we want to have zero consumer waste go to landfills. And, last, we want to design products that are better for the environment.
When we think about the environment, there are two aspects that we think about. One is the innovation required. And the second is the productivity required. Relative to the innovation, we spend over $2 billion a year on research and development. We have more Ph.D.s than most U.S. universities combined. We spend $450 million a year on consumer knowledge, which helps give us the insight to create those new products.
"Redefine consumption" - Hannah Jones, Vice President of Sustainable Business and Innovation at Nike describes a relationship with a brand as transitioning experiences. Do you feel aligned with a brand?? Like minded diverse disciplines.
NIKE, Inc. President & CEO Mark Parker on the importance of innovation and collaboration.
“Innovation is most powerful when it’s activated by collaboration between unlikely partners, coupled with investment dollars, marketing know-how and determination,“ Parker said. “Now is the time for big, bold solutions. Incremental change won’t get us where we need to go fast enough or at a scale that makes a difference.”
“About 60 percent of the environmental footprint of a pair of Nike shoes is embedded in the materials used to make them. When you multiply that across our business, and across the industry, it’s clear that innovation in sustainable materials is a huge opportunity, not just for Nike, but for the world.”
Regarding city planning, the automobile check out some of Peter Calthorpe's Urban Designer had a noteworthy ideas: Not all roads should be designed for a car. Every third street should be auto free and bicycles, and pedestrain environments serve a higher quality of life.
photo by Stuart Isett Brainstorm Green
"We need to find a new definition of what defines the middle class and that means not owning a car."
Calthorpe has been named one of 25 "innovators on the cutting edge" by Newsweek Magazine for his work in redefining the models of urban and suburban growth in America. Throughout his long career in urban design, planning and architecture, he has been a pioneer in approach to revitalization and regional planning.
Rick Ridgeway VP, Environmental Initiatives Patagonia and spokesperson Conservacion Patagonica - Patagonia privately held major outdoor retailer preserves the wilds of South America like the great American conservationists and our national parks. What started off as a road trip turned into one of the most successful global land conservation efforts merging capitalism and retail with environmental preservation thanks to a wild bunch of adventurers in the early 70's.
"We took things we learned on our adventures like to Patagonia. In order to stay alive, we had to take risks and learn how to manage them," said Rick Ridgeway of Patagonia. "When you are in places like that, you get a sense of beauty in your bones and you want to protect it."
According to Adam Lashinsky, Senior Editor At Large, Fortune Magazine:
Perhaps the most sensible environmentalist at the Fortune conference is, of all things, an ex-Goldman Sachs (GS) banker. Mark Tercek, CEO of the Nature Conservancy, is promoting his book, Nature's Fortune. He tells an insightful story of interactions between his scientists and engineers at Dow Chemical (DOW), which wants to work with his organization on conversation programs. Turns out the Dow engineers understood the practical science under discussion far better than the environmentalists, in Tercek's opinion. His scientists are very good at theorizing, he says, and less good at offering solutions. (Tercek is one of the most articulate, fluid, nimble, explanatory speakers I have heard in a long time. If he writes half as well as he speaks, I want to read his book.)
"Business is the most nimble in moving sustainability forward. It's enlightened self interest. Companies can be used as a voice for environmental action. Use us!"