Brainstorm Green, FORTUNE’s conference on business and the environment, will be back next spring. I’ll be back, too, as co-chair with FORTUNE environmental editor and international editor Brian Dumaine (who edited my very first FORTUNE story back in 1996). We’ll return to the spectacular Ritz Carlton Hotel in Laguna Niguel, California, from April 12 to 14.
The theme, once again, will be: How can business profitably help solve the world’s biggest environmental problems?
Last year’s Brainstorm Green was a hit, by all accounts. We brought together corporate executives, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, investors, government officials and thinkers. Too many to list here, but they included Bill Clinton, Bill Ford, Paul Hawken, Van Jones, Fisk Johnson, Jim Rogers, David Crane, Mike Morris, Fred Krupp, Peter Darbee, Janine Benyus, Ray Anderson and Bill Gross, as well as senior execs from Wal-Mart, GE, Microsoft, Dell and HP. Really a diverse group, and a well-informed and lively audience that woke up early and stayed out late to get to know one another and talk about important stuff. The one-and-only Chuck Leavell, keyboardist (with the Rolling Stones!), award-winning tree farmer and entrepreneur, entertained us, and we ate fabulous organic food.
Last year’s event will be hard to top, but we’ll try. This blogpost isn’t just a commercial for Brainstorm Green 2010—it’s an effort to reach out in search of new voices and ideas. We’re going to try to offer a bit more science and politics, perhaps some multimedia (anyone have a enviro-oriented movie they want to premiere next April?), more small-group conversations, more women and younger speakers, and ideally as many varied viewpoints as we can muster. FORTUNE 500 CEOs are always welcome.
Although we’ve just begun to recruit speakers, I’ve already found several newcomers who have agreed to join us.
Lew Hay is the chairman and CEO of FPL Group, a $16 billion company whose assets include an investor-owned utility, Florida Power & Light, and more interestingly, NextEra Energy Resources, the No. 1 wind energy company in the U.S. and a leading operator of solar power plants as well. I heard Lew argue at a Goldman Sachs conference a couple of years ago that a carbon tax would be simpler and more effective than a cap-and-trade system to regulate global warming pollutants; too bad more people didn’t listen.
Sally Jewell, the CEO of REI, the outdoor clothing and equipment co-op headquartered near Seattle, will not only talk about the greening of REI and the outdoor industry; she has also agreed to lead an early-morning hike where we’ll talk about how and why we need to get kids excited about nature and the outdoors.
Another newcomer will Fred Palmer, senior vice president, of Peabody Energy, the world’s biggest coal company. He’s got a provocative argument to make: Black is the New Green. Peabody, I’m told, intends to be the “global leader in clean coal solutions: FutureGen, GreenGen and COAL 21 in Australia.” That should spark some lively conversation.
Before long, we’ll announce our environmental partners—last year we worked with Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council and Conservation International. I’ll keep you posted on the speaker lineup from time to time. Please do reach out to me with ideas. Hope to see many of you in Laguna Niguel next April.