GLOBE 2012

GLOBE 2012

15 April, 2012
Biennial eco conference
World leaders & corporations gather to discuss business and the environment

The GLOBE 2012 conference and expo on business and the environment was successfully held in Vancouver, Canada this past March 14-16, and Ecozine was proud to be there as part of the conversation.  This biennial event drew close to 10,000 delegates from more than 50 countries.
Despite a global economic downturn happening across many countries around the world, it was very encouraging to see that the conference rooms and expo at GLOBE were packed with the world’s top business leaders from a wide range of industry sectors, joined by numerous organizations dedicated to sustainability and passionate students looking to pursue careers that support a better environment.  World leaders are gradually identifying and implementing stronger links between innovation, job creation and a greener and healthier society.  Christy Clark, the Premier of British Columbia, opened the conference by highlighting the success of the cleantech sector in BC as well as initiatives through the BC Jobs Plan to continue to build the green economy through environmental sectors in the province.
One of the highlights of the conference was the focus on sustainable retail and consumerism.  Retailers in the conference rooms were very excited to participate in discussions on ways to engage consumers on environmental initiatives, green products, and especially on waste and packaging.  “Scope creep” is a common issue in the consumer retail world, creating increasing complexity for all involved in its supply chains.  Adding to the challenge for retailers, regulations are widely varied, even across a single country.  Tyler Elm, VP of Business Sustainability at Canadian Tire Corp., noted the challenge of keeping on top of 121 product takeback programs just across Canada!  But there is nothing to argue about the importance of retailers in influencing consumers in the sustainability chain, as Clint Mahlman, COO of London Drugs Ltd. said, “retail is the storefront of society”.
Amongst the many panel discussions help on corporate sustainability was a riveting one on “people power”.  Panelists agreed that staff engagement and internal education on what and how the company is contributing to the community and the planet were both key factors in attracting and retaining the best and the brightest.  Simon Herriott, VP of Global Consulting Solutions at Dupont, commented that a company’s sustainability priorities, or lack thereof, are at the top of the decision-making priority list for new graduates considering job offers.  Also discussed was the challenge faced by companies of how to motivate staff to participate in sustainability programs when they are already faced with a heavy workload.  Erin Meezan, VP of Sustainability at Interface Inc., pointed out the importance of creating timelines for staff and setting achievable goals.  Even with very little resources, many things can be done and when the resources do get allocated to sustainability efforts, action can be taken right away.  Meezan shared the story of an Interface employee who first started out as a passionate individual offering extra time and effort to environmental programs and was later promoted to Chief Innovation Officer to carry out her ideas.
Government representatives including Terry Lake, BC’s Minister of Environment, spoke on the panel on carbon emissions trading and climate policies.  Henry Derwent, President of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), spoke about various trading programs around the globe and congratulated Australia and China on their carbon emissions policy efforts. He also shared his frustration on the failure of leaders to realize the amount of financial support needed to combat carbon emissions, and on global trade wars emerging between countries that are setting trading permits for industries versus those that don’t, as is happening in the aviation industry.  Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator, Office of Air and Radiation at the US EPD, emphasize that every small step counts in building political will internationally on carbon policy but made it clear that we need to “stop global warming by stopping global whining”.
Outside the conference rooms, The GLOBE Expo was a gold mine of creative technologies, products and companies displaying and promoting their eco offerings.  One of our favorite products was the Achiever electric bike, which enables you to pedal or ride on clean electric power. The neon blue and pink pipe-shaped water bottles lined up at Jointhepipe’s booth also caught our eye.  This cool organization is working to build pipes (both virtually and physically) across the globe to bring clean tap water to those without.  If you’re in Vancouver later in May this year, definitely check out the EPIC Sustainable Living Expo (this event booth definitely drew crowds by serving beer!) which has lots of great eco-products that target consumers looking to green their lifestyles.
Last but not least at the event were the GLOBE Awards, which recognize extraordinary Canadian companies and industry groups who have managed to balance competitive business strategies and sustainable development.  Winners included the Royal Bank of Canada for Sustainability in Finance, Unilever Canada for Corporate Environmental Excellence, Pulse Energy for Technology Innovation and Application, among others.  The Next Gen Entrepreneur Award went to Eden Full from Roseicollis Technologies who has developed the SunSaluter, a technology that optimizes the output of individual solar panels by up to 40%. She aims to commercialize the product in both emerging and developed markets.  One of the other finalists for the award was Claudia Li for creating the Shark Truth campaign, which has helped inspire many other anti-shark consumption campaigns around the world. 
All in all, GLOBE was an engaging and fruitful experience for the Ecozine team.  We look forward to attending the next GLOBE in two years’ time from March 26 to 28, 2014!  To find out more about GLOBE, visit

By: Karry Lai


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