Russ Walker and Matt Kahn

Opportunity Green, a sustainable summit that aims to connect industry and innovation, took place this weekend with an interesting macro-exploration of the current climate for sustainable and social entrepreneurship. A cast of leading keynote speakers from business, economics, media and more offered their experience and insight. Overall, the verdict was cautious optimism.

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True to the common adage that pictures speak louder than words, acclaimed documentary photographer Colin Finlay opened the conference with a sobering photographic exploration of cause and effect at the planetary level. Patagonia‘s Rick Ridgeway and Nike‘s Jane Savage followed with inspiring presentations outlining what their respective companies are doing to further sustainability. The main lessons these leading businesses offer budding entrepreneurs are simple: establish an ethos and a north star for your business, then go forth and innovate.  Systems thinker Stephanie Ryan and Forbo‘s Tim Cole also contributed to the discussion.

UCLA Professor Matt Kahn and Grist‘s Executive Director Russ Walker closed with an economic forecast. While President-Elect Obama’s plan does call for $15 billion to be invested in creating green collar jobs and converting our carbon economy over to being a leading clean economy, short term challenges may absorb our new government’s immediate attention. Despite that possibility, Kahn and Walker agree that the overall outlook is positive if entrepreneurs lead the way, creating change from the ground-up instead of waiting for mandates from the top down. With bold, non-politicized steps, proactive venture capitalists, business leaders, and innovators can help all us move toward positive environmental change.

+ Opportunity Green