My five favorite events of 2012

One very clear trend emerged from the volatile but amazing year that was 2012: There are way too many sustainable business events to choose from. As environmental and social trends continue to grow in import, events will continue to be key places and times to meet, discuss, debate as well as to celebrate and commiserate.

Although there may be too many events for any mere mortal to consider, here’s a quick guide to the best events that 2012 had to offer from my perspective, which can hopefully help you calibrate your calendar for the 12 months ahead. 

Interestingly, perhaps, my five favorite events of 2012 were completely different than my picks last year. Clearly, events come and go in significance, so event organizers need to up their game and keep an eye on quality.

My top five events of 2012 were, in chronological order:

1. Ceres, April 2012, Boston. Some events vary in quality from year to year, but somehow, Ceres manages to put on a first-class event each time. Managing to bring together mainstream corporates, investors, activists and thought leaders, Ceres events are always great places to gather and discuss key issues of the day and the sustainability industry. Jeremy Rifkin’s speech stood out, providing the sort of transformational energy vision change we require. It will be an especially interesting event in 2013 (this year in San Francisco), given the reelection of Obama, the cap-and-trade developments in California, the changing weather being experienced from Hurricane Sandy and Midwestern drought and storm frequency, leading Americans to talk about sustainability like never before. The opportunity to develop a real change agenda is before us and needs to be seized, and if any group is up for it, it is Ceres. The only challenge for Ceres 2013 is that there are two other excellent events happening at the same time in California (see ARCS below + Fortune’s typically excellent Brainstorm Green event).

2. VERGE, May 2012, Arlington, Virginia. The indelible image one is left with from the VERGE DC 2012 conference was “mash-up.” Bringing together many different perspectives and players from sustainability and technology, it worked well from an audience perspective. Change is in the air, and one needs to be swirled around the possibilities across innovation, policy, corporate sustainability and technology to envision the ways forward. GreenBiz’s other events, the 2013 GreenBiz Forums, are high on my list of events for 2013. I fully expect them to attract the best and brightest, given the clear opportunity corporates have to use sustainability as differentiating factors going forward. The Newsweek Green Rankings 2012 made clear as previous reports have before, that we are in a deep state of status quo, which is unsustainable. Can corporates emerge as the solution? (I didn't make it to the VERGE SF event in November, but heard it was even better.)

Next page: Planning for 2013