I ran into Hunter Lovins last week at a meeting of business leaders at the UN. She’s wearing a black hat but she’s one of the good people. Author, activist, sustainability consultant, force of nature — Hunter always has plenty to say, and she says it bluntly and passionate.
At the UN gathering of executives from companies that are part of the UN Global Compact LEAD group, Hunter got into a friendly debate with Joel Bakan, a law professor and corporate critic, whose 2004 documentary, The Corporation, likened corporations to psychopaths.
Hunter argued that business, not government, is more likely to lead us to a sustainable future. Joel took the opposite view. I wrote about the debate here, in a story for Guardian Sustainable Business.
“We’re in a horse race with catastrophe,” Hunter told me afterwards. “Can corporations move fast enough? Government cannot. It will not. Corporations might. Will they? I don’t know. On that turns the future of the world.”
Not a bad summary of where things stand today. Hunter’s not just a good talker but a do-er, working with a variety of companies — her future and past clients include Walmart, Unilever, Patagonia, Clif Bar, Interface –to help them become not just sustainable but, ideally, regenerative.
With Thanksgiving approaching, this is a good time to thank people like Hunter–those who, as insiders or advisers, are working in the trenches of corporate America, trying to persuade their companies to become part of the solution to big social and environmental problems.
It can be a tough slog, but it’s important work. That’s while this fall in Guardian Sustainable Business, we’ve been running a series of brief q-and-a’s that showcase sustainability executives. Some are with people who I know well, and others I hardly know at all. But I persuaded my colleagues to run the series because they don’t get enough credit for the work they do.
Here are some of the people I’ve talked to, in no particular order:
Tim Mohin of AMD, about an electronics industry coalition that is seeking to improve factory conditions in the developing world.
Frank O’Brien-Bernini of Owens-Corning, about the need to be rigorous when dealing with environmental issues.
Kathrin Winkler of EMC, about electronic waste.
Rhonda Clark of UPS, about carbon emissions reductions.
Adam Mott of North Face, on the responsible cycling of down.
Vince Digneo of Adobe, about green teams.
Paulette Frank of Johnson & Johnson, about recycling.
Amy Hargroves of Sprint, about the importance of standards.
Marcus Chung of The Children’s Place, about the need to go beyond factory auditing.
If you’d like to nominate someone (or yourself) for this series, let me know. Meantime, thanks to all for participating–and for all the good work you do.