It's been a long, busy and productive year for those of us who make a living at sustainability related endeavors. Testament I'm sure to the growing importance of this field, and it is rewarding to also see a constant flow of new job openings in academia, at corporates, within governmental bodies and elsewhere in this space continuing to emerge.
This is encouraging to a degree, especially as we attempt to navigate global gridlock at Durban. The solutions will come from the corporates, through three main avenues: efficiency, innovation andnew products that reduce the footprint of their users.
One of the other encouraging trends we've seen in 2011 is the importance of events. Thought I'd give a quick recap of some of the better ones I had a chance to speak at this year, and a look forward to the highlights of at least the start of 2012. There seem to be either really good events, or really bad ones, and so pointing out what works seems a useful task.
And so without further ado, my top five events of 2011 were, in chronological order:
1. MIT's Sustainability Summit, April 22
This was a rewarding experience for me, to speak on the state of environmental play regarding what is measureable, what can be ranked, and most importantly, the chance to interact with a bright group of students seeking positive solutions. It is academic institutions like this that can drive our best chance of innovative success and meaningful change. I try to spend as much time as I can with universities & students for just this reason, and would suggest more of us in the field do the same, it is always rewarding. More information on the summit and next year's event in April can be found here.
2. Northstar Initiative, University of Minnesota, June 28-29
A chance to speak on a panel, the same day as a keynote from Joel Makower, is always a welcome experience. Joel was his usual excellent self. (Here's a nice, short example of Joel's vision if you haven't yet had the chance -- and why haven't you?) Back to all things Minnesota, here's an overview of the NorthStar Initiative from academic leader Tim Smith. Smith and Northstar are focused on practical solutions to the granular sustainability issues we face, which is a very refreshing (and very Midwest) approach to the subject, which I personally have a lot of time for. NorthStar brings together many categories of stakeholders, especially the many large corporates to be found in and around the Twin Cities and it is through collaboration and discussion that we can find best ways forward to the challenges we all face.
Watch for a repeat of this event next June, and if you are in the area, don't miss the January GreenBiz Forum here where we'll be speaking and attending.
3. CLSA Investor Forum, Hong Kong, September 19-22
Had the honor of being invited to speak by CLSA, Asia's leading Investment Bank, at the world's most renowned event for Investors, the 18th Annual CLSA Investor Forum, hosted at Hong Kong's largest hotel, the Grand Hyatt.
The event now attracts 1500 or so of the world's largest investors, fund managers and analysts, and this year featured George Clooney, speaking largely about his fascinating satellite project in the Sudan as the lead speaker. For me, it was a first chance to speak on our new book, Evolutions in Sustainable Investing, which CLSA contributed a chapter.
The book features contributions from thought leaders such as Paul Hawken and Dan Esty, and looks in some depth at how sustainability and investing has become a positive driver of value for all stakeholders. Fifteen fund managers are profiled who have succeeded by being positive in their approaches to the sustainability risks and opportunities that continue to emerge and unravel.
These are also examples of firms successfully moving away from the more negative approaches, which conversely have not outperformed, and the book also discusses metrics, new ways of measuring and regional differences.