Sights and scenes of GreenBiz 20

GreenBiz 20 sign
Victoria Mills

One question the GreenBiz Group team fields often from those both inside and outside the corporate sustainability community is whether hosting in-person gatherings is the "right" thing to do in a world where responsible individuals are seeking to reduce their own personal impact on climate change as much as possible.

Time and again, the value of face-to-face connections and revelations helps balance the dilemma.

Last week, 1,500 sustainability-minded individuals including CEOs, CSOs, policy experts, NGO representatives, in-the-field practitioners and students gathered at the Camelback Inn in chilly Scottsdale, Arizona, for GreenBiz 20 — twice the attendees we hosted at the same GreenBiz conference there four years ago.

From the over-subscribed, two-day GreenFin Summit to our now-annual biomimicry hike in the Sonoran Desert, it was a week full of reflections, revelations and reawakenings.

Biomimicry hike, GreenBiz 20
Victoria Mills
Biomimicry professional Michelle Fehler addresses the morning hike in the Phoenix Mountain preserve.

Sonoran Desert, GreenBiz 20
Victoria Mills
The Phoenix Mountain preserve.

Getting back to nature

Biomimicry professionals Joe Zazzera and Michelle Fehler led a morning hike Feb. 4 in the Phoenix Mountain preserve, where they discussed some design principles that have made life in the Sonoran Desert prolific. Through the use of the tools of biomimicry and Shinrin Yoku (forest bathing), they encouraged the walkers to integrate some of these strategies into their business lives.

"It was great to talk to people along the trail, but there was also plenty of silence, stillness and observation using all of our senses," reflects Victoria Mills, managing director of the Environmental Defense Fund, who contributed the photo. "We were present."

Tree planting, GreenBiz 20
GreenBiz 20 attendees join students in a tree planting event at a Phoenix school

Putting down roots

Before immersing themselves in conference sessions, a group of attendees joined American Forests, the Arizona Sustainability Alliance and Microsoft on Feb. 4 in planting trees at a school that serves a marginalized community in Phoenix. The amateur arborists mainly planted trees native to the area, so they withstand the impacts of climate change. The school plans to use the trees to help raise awareness of their role in cooling cities. Eventually, they also will produce food that the students and people in the community will be able to eat.

Gordon Murray, GreenBiz Group
Ken Bertsch (with microphone) from the Council of Institutional Investors speaks to panel (from left), Joel Makower, GreenBiz Group (moderator); Richard Mattison, Trucost/S&P Global; Erika Karp, Cornerstone Capital; and Mindy Lubber, Ceres, at the 2020 GreenFin Summit in Phoenix, Arizona.

GreenFin Summit, GreenBiz 20
Flash Gordon Murray, Pixel PhotoVideo
The working sessions at the two-day, invite-only GreenFin Summit convened 200 attendees.

What will it take?

Corporate reporting on environmental, social and governance (ESG) data has moved from the margins to the mainstream: It now sits squarely on Wall Street, where it is being factored into a growing number of investment managers’ portfolios, as well as the strategies of pension funds, university endowments and other large investors.

The second annual, invite-only GreenFin Summit convened 200 attendees — representing more than $22 trillion in assets — focused on strategies for leveraging capital markets to drive the global economy toward sustainability.

30 Under 30, GreenBiz 20
Alhassan Baba Muniru
Past honorees of the GreenBiz 30 Under 30 networked with GreenBiz editors Deonna Anderson and Heather Clancy during the opening reception.

The next generation of leadership compares notes

Past honorees of the annual GreenBiz 30 Under 30 list share experiences and ideas during the opening reception Feb. 4. Pictured from left: Alhassan Baba Muniru, Recycle Up!; Michael Rinaldi, Rabobank; Josh Weiner, MetLife; Alexandra Criscuolo, formerly with Kickstarter; Alejandra Sánchez Ayala, C&A; Deonna Anderson, GreenBiz; Heather Clancy, GreenBiz; and Alexsandra Guerra, Nori.

Look for the nomination form for the 2020 30 Under 30 list in late February, or email [email protected] to receive it when it goes live.

 Coaching Corner, GreenBiz 20

Career advice, face to face

In the Coaching Corner, leadership coach and GreenBiz columnist Shannon Houde, left, shared 15-minute personalized coaching sessions with professionals at every stage of their leadership development. Here, Houde chats with Camila Gomez Wills, a master’s candidate in public policy, with the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California-San Diego.

UN Global Compact, GreenBiz 20
Joel Makower
An overflow crowd watches a demo of the new SDG Action Manager, a tool for tracking commitments related to the Sustainable Development Goals.

From action to alignment

An overflow crowd watches a demo of the new SDG Action Manager, a tool co-developed by the United Nations Global Compact and B Lab for tracking commitments related to the Sustainable Development Goals. That pattern of engagement was echoed in an at-capacity summit on the SDGs before the official start of the GreenBiz 20 event, and in several breakouts related to this issue.

bald eagle, Liberty Wildlife, GreenBiz 20, Sustainability Solutions Celebration
Victoria Mills
A young bald eagle rehabilitated by Arizona rescue organization Liberty Wildlife.

An awe-inspiring avian inspiration

The resilience of nature was on display at the seventh annual Sustainability Solutions Celebration on Feb. 5, hosted by Arizona State University Walton Sustainability Solutions initiative. This young bald eagle, rehabilitated by rescue organization Liberty Wildlife, fell out of her nest as a fledgling after being attacked by killer bees. This year's winning solution — an approach to solving water problems proposed by a team of middle-school students — was highlighted during the GreenBiz 20 plenary session later that day.