Thoughts on the Ceres conference

Last week, I attended the Ceres conference in Boston, Massachusetts (“The annual Ceres conference is a unique gathering of corporate, environmental, investor, governance, and labor leaders who share a collective vision of sustainability and capital markets functioning side by side”). I have a very high bar for the conferences I attend, and this makes the top three. The networking is genuine and I always learn more than I bargained for.

Some highlights:

A panel with current and former executive leadership of BP and Shell agreeing that climate change is an issue that needs to be dealt with, only differing on how they were going to do it. They both say that company profits fund alternative energy research, so I look forward to hearing about the developments of those investments at subsequent conferences — and ideally sooner.

A closing panel on the economic impact of climate change that included Van Jones, the Founder and President of Green for All a non-profit dedicated to building an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty. Van was so charismatic, poised and on-point that he elicited applause after almost everyone of his comments. He was so good, in fact, that I didn’t even feel compelled to tell you that Theodore Roosevelt IV and Chip Giller of Grist were also on the panel. And they too were excellent.

What felt different about this conference was that there seems to be a palpable shift to issue identification and value creation. There was less finger-pointing and more collaboration and discussion of important issues with the intention of real results. It’s a good sign and I, for one, look forward to it.

Alex Hausman
Corporate Social Responsibility
The Timberland Company

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