The juggernaut corporate sustainability event, GreenBiz 16, has just ended in idyllic Scottsdale, AZ. The end brings a sense of relief (networking and ideas overload), a sense of enormous challenges and a renewed sense of purpose. Purpose – one of the main take-aways from the conference; lots of talk about how businesses need to refocus on their core purpose and integrating aspects of environmental and social responsibility into that purpose. Maybe it’s a bit of mission and vision review? Probably needs to be done in the C-suite and at the BU level.
Another takeaway – COP21 will affect business behavior in 2016, but much of the work around lowering CO2 emissions would have happened anyway. Dr. James Hansen was a bit dismissive of all of this and said, basically, do whatever you can in your power to influence policy in favor of a “Fee and Fund” carbon tax approach to de-carbonization. We probably need to do both.
And then there was the interesting session on “Net Positive,” which is an effort to reframe corporate sustainability from “do less bad” to “do good.” A little unclear about how these efforts would not be perceived as greenwashing and/or detract from companies focusing on material issues in operations and supply chain. But worthy of noting with a hard launch expected in June.
Also good discussions about sustainable purchasing, including a “guru” lunch organized by ISM (www.instituteforsupplymanagement.org) and SPLC (www.sustainablepurchasing.org). This concept of driving institutional purchasers to choose goods and services with lighter impacts is very much gaining traction, but still faces serious challenges about (a) building out category-level definitions of what is “sustainable” and (b) training the purchasing community about the overall best-practice-based strategy and the tools needed to operationalize the concept. Watch this space.
That’s a wrap.