I had the pleasure of speaking about sustainability to two very different groups this week. On Monday I addressed a set of business executives who work for companies that have signed the United Nations Global Compact – "a framework for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption." On Wednesday I took part in Santa Clara University’s Sustainability Day and sat on a panel with other Silicon Valley organizations interested in green business.
The coupling of both events left me with a feeling of great optimism. The sustainability movement is burning the candle at both ends in a very positive way. On one end, the biggest of businesses, multi-nationals, are looking for sustainable business solutions. Are they doing this because they understand the dire state of our planet or to be able to market to LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability) consumers? I’m not sure I care as long as the companies are making real changes in their operations (did anyone else read Business Week’s cover story called Little Green Lies? It includes a searing indictment of renewable energy credits and how corporations are using them to hide increases in CO2 emissions. It reinforced my confidence that our Low Carbon Diet approach to reducing emissions in the food system is the right thing to do).
On the other end of the candle, young people are engaged. I got asked great questions about the complexity of the issues (e.g. organic versus local produce) and how students can be a part of the solution (e.g. do we have internship opportunities?).
With our brightest minds both at corporations and colleges focused on sustainability, the candle of hope is burning brightly.
Side note – also on the Santa Clara University panel was a representative from d.light, a company working to bring affordable lighting solutions to rural households. Two billion people in the world currently live without electricity and many use kerosene which is dim, dangerous, polluting and expensive. d.light had some great ideas. I was very impressed.
– Maisie Greenawalt, Director of Communications & Strategic Initiatives