Some of the greatest minds in green business recently convened in sunny southern California for Fortune’s Annual Brainstorm Green Conference. Inhabitat was on the scene to catch compelling talks by an incredible list of speakers including movers and shakers in the top Fortune companies as well as some predominant start-ups, nonprofit, and NGOs. The conference glossed over some of the usual sustainable fanfare, but surprisingly managed to dig a little deeper into today’s environmental issues and share some realistic insights. Read on for our full report!
The conference opened with a one-on-one between Lee Scott, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for Wal-Mart Stores and John Huey, Editor-In-Chief of Time Inc. Scott explained that Wal-Mart’s approach to sustainability was never altruistic — they have always been in search of better business propositions. It just so happened that doing better business was better for the planet. Although I have my own personal qualms with Wal-Mart, it’s hard to believe that more companies have not followed suit, taking-up the green flag in exchange for cost savings.
A panel entitled, What Do Environmentalist Want, brought together Frances Beinecke, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council; Michael Burne, Executive Director of the Sierra Club; David Yarnall sitting in for Fred Krupp, President of the Environmental Defense Fund; and Mark Terek, President and CEO of the Nature Conservancy. All agreed that passing climate change legislation is a top priority to solving larger environmental issues, but they also agreed that it will be an uphill battle — if not one of the hardest political struggles they have ever faced. On the other hand, the panel estimated that there’s a 50% chance of passing some kind of legislation by this time next year.