FORTUNE’s Brainstorm Green conference is more than just talk.
Ann Hand, the ceo of green-building startup Project Frog, recently told me that she met venture capitalist Chuck McDermott at the first Brainstorm Green in 2008. That helped lead to her current job. [See my blogpost, Project Frog's Ann Hand: Disrupting construction ]
At Brainstorm Green 2010, Bill Ford, the chairman of Ford Motor, got to talking with Scott Griffith, the ceo of Zipcar. That helped bring about a Ford partnership with Zipcar to get Ford cars onto college campuses.
Later, Ford and Zipcar together invested in Wheelz, a car-sharing startup whose ceo, Jeff Miller, spoke last year at Brainstorm Green. [See my blogpost, Car sharing, revving up]
Brainstorm Green is about making the connections that help drive market solutions to environmental problems. The people and the issues have changed over the years but the theme has remained constant: How can corporate America help solve the world’s biggest environmental problems?
With some interesting tweaks to our format, a new and improved Brainstorm Green will be back in 2013. Dates are April 29-May 1, and we’ll be back at the spectacular Ritz Carlton Hotel in Laguna Niguel, CA. Our programming partners will be Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International.
We’ve been recruiting CEO-level speakers for a couple of months now, and have generated an enthusiastic response. Ted Turner, the legendary enterpreneur, environmentalist and philanthropist, has agreed to join us, and if you’ve never heard Ted speak, you’re in for a treat. [See my blogpost: Ted Turner: Telling it like it is] Ted is always entertaining but, more important, he’s nearly always right, whether the topic is global warming, nuclear disarmament or raising bison for his Ted’sMontana Grill restaurant chain.
Another headliner will be the big-thinking, green-minded (pun intended) investor Jeremy Grantham, whose GMO asset management firm manages about $100 billion. “Global warming will be the most important investment issue for the foreseeable future,” Grantham wrote in a letter to his investors a couple of years ago. If you don’t know much about him, read this excellent profile from The New York Times Magazine. He’s a fascinating guy who, like Ted, has been ahead of the curve more often than not.
As usual, FORTUNE 500 CEOs will be well represented. Bob McDonald, the ceo of Procter & Gamble, has agreed to take questions from the audience in a town hall format, which proved a hit last year when Ford’s Alan Mulally held court.
We’ll also hear from John Donahoe, the ceo of EBay; Marvin Odum, president of Shell Oil; Ken Powell, ceo of General Mills; Eric Speigel, ceo of Siemens USA; Brian Walker, ceo of Herman Miller; Vance Bell, ceo of Shaw Floors; Tony Fadell, ceo of Nest; and Kristin Groos Richmond, ceo of Revolution Foods.
We’re going to focus more on solutions than before, particularly when it comes to environmental problems that no one company or industry can solve on its own. We’ve identified four such topics, and each will be presented to the Brainstorm audience by a top executive.
- David Crane, ceo of NRG Energy, will talk about how we can get solar panels onto the roofs of half of the buildings in America.
- David Steiner, ceo of Waste Management, will talk about radically driving up recycling rates in the US.
- Clarence Otis, CEO of Darden, will talk about the future of protein, focusing, of course, on fish. (Darden owns Red Lobster).
- Sara Greenstein, president of UL Environment, will talk about the power of environmental ratings and rankings.
Following their presentations, we’ll break up into working groups to talk about how to drive those solutions forward. If we can get the right people into the room, we think those conversations can drive change in the months ahead. We’ll then report back on progress.
All of this is, it must be said, a work in progress. One reason that I’m writing this blogpost is to solicit your ideas. My co-chair Brian Dumaine and I are looking for speakers to join in those four conversations about solutions, as well as new topics and people to bring to Brainstorm Green. One way to get considered as a speaker is to request a delegate invitation here for the conference, and then let Brian or me know that you’ve signed up. Or feel free to contact me directly at marc dot gunther at gmail dot com.
I hope to see many of you next spring in Laguna Niguel.