Business Takes the Lead

July 9th, 2012 by Kristin York Leave a reply »

In our quest for all shining bright spots in the sustainability movement, the Sustainametrics team is pretty psyched about two recent events. The first, our favorite conference of the year, Sustainable Brands (SB) held this June in San Diego’s Paradise Point. SB is the annual meeting of the minds of the businesses, NGOs, educators and passionate leaders in the area of sustainability and environmental responsibility. Four days are dedicated to sharing ideas, collaborating on projects and co-creating a future through the power of branding. This year’s theme “The Revolution Will Be Branded” inspired a challenge to global brand leaders to find ways to support each other and create solutions rather than excuses about the environment. The entire conference was centered around innovation and idea sharing, clearly acknowledging that health of business is reliant on the conscious consumer – one who votes with their wallet every day.

Hunter Lovins, venerable pioneer in the sustainability field, kicked off the conference attended by the who’s who of businesses that care including; Patagonia, Unilever, Ford Motor, Patagonia, Chipoltle, Clark, REI, Green Mountain Coffee, and a host of emerging mission led businesses. The common themes centered on embracing full transparency and authenticity, imparting values into supply chains and exploring new capital market structures that look at long term goals rather than short term results. For more information on Sustainable Brands check it out here…
and save the date for next year – June 4-7, 2013.

The second event, which we had to watch from afar was Rio+20 , the 20th anniversary United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as the Earth Summit. From a political perspective, the conference failed to make significant progress with no specific reductions in climate emissions and no concrete Sustainable Development Goals to replace the Millennium Development Goals that expire in 2015. Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International’s executive director, said in a statement, “Rio+20 has turned into an epic failure. It has failed on equity, failed on ecology, and failed on economy.”

However, while this conference was seen as a political disappointment due to lack of progress by government leaders, the private sector stepped up big time with a commitment to take responsibility for building the global green economy. This is obviously a huge undertaking, and as we saw at Sustainable Brands, one that is already underway. Perhaps our political leaders will take a cue from business. Real change will take a massive effort and 100% participation of both government AND business to reach Rio’s goals. This will require more public-private partnership and favorable legislation, regulation and incentives to support those partnerships while balancing social equity and environmental responsibility. To check out more on progress from the Rio conference click here


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