Twenty years ago, Business Social Responsibility (BSR) was founded, and in October they celebrated the anniversary with the BSR 2012 Conference in New York City. The conference covered sustainability in a dynamic way across various sectors. Lively discussion topics ranged from social media’s impact on sustainability to the changing energy landscape. It was a truly collaborative experience between the public and private sectors along with governmental agencies and non- governmental organizations.
Some of the highlights included:
· A speech by and discussion with Anne-Marie Slaughter, Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. She’s also the author of a very popular feature published in The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/why-women-still-cant-have-it-all/309020/) which addresses the importance of gender equality in the workplace. Slaughter gave solid examples of tri-sector partnerships (public /private/ civic partnership) and how they can solve global problems. She also raised the difference between making a living and having a life.
· The panel discussion on The Changing Energy Landscape between Fred Krupp, President, Environmental Defense Fund and Mindy Lubber, President, Ceres, Director, Investor Network on Climate Risk. The topic is so important and complex; it’s not surprising that it exceeded its scheduled timeframe. Both Krupp and Lubber agreed that we need to make smart and thoughtful decisions in terms of energy.
· The collaborative spirit carried through during the discussion with Neil Golightly, VP Shell North America, when he addressed how the connectedness of resources such as water and food need to be taken into consideration when looking at the energy equation.
As an emerging sustainability professional, I really appreciated the enthusiasm the attendees and speakers brought to the conference. I met a lot of smart individuals who were full of ideas and I was able to share best practices and insights with some.
As Aron Cramer, President and CEO, BSR said, “…we don’t need more road maps, we know where we have to go, we need to get there quickly.” I agree and further to that thought, I think that we need to prepare ourselves for times when we have to re-visit the road map. We need to be resilient to be able to adapt to our ever- changing environment.