An opportunity to start defining the New Normal

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Peter Malik, Director, Center for Market Innovation, New York

The last few days have seen enormous upheaval across the globe, from incredible volatility in stock markets worldwide to riots in the streets of London. There is no doubt that we are living in times of change, and times of change present both great challenges and great opportunities. One of the greatest opportunities in front of us right now is the chance to rethink the way we as a society interact with the environment. The business community must play a key role in rethinking this relationship. The aim should not be to return to the old normal – which clearly doesn’t work – but to define a new, sustainable normal. And the business community needs to be a leading voice in the dialogue and debate. That’s why CMI and our partners at similar organizations like the Capital Institute (http://www.capitalinstitute.org/about) are working with the business community to rethink the way business interacts with the environment.  Our friends at The Capital Institute posit an essential question in the debate: What would an economic system that operates within the physical boundaries of the biosphere, while more equitably serving the needs of people, look like? Here at CMI we also look at the best ways to deploy capital, treating the environment as a closed system.

John Fullerton from the Capital Institute and I will both be presenting on these ideas at the upcoming BusinessClimate Conference during Climate Week NYC in September (http://business-climate.com/). The BusinessClimate conference brings together senior decision-makers and thought leaders from major corporations, global financial institutions, the media, and government/policy arenas to generate new ideas for building a sustainable, resource efficient, low carbon economy.  The organizers of the conference, including PricewaterhouseCoopers and Carbon War Room, have the same view as CMI- namely, that sustainability is no longer simply a social responsibility – it is a driver of economic transformation. 

The location of the launch of the conference, the Empire State Building, is emblematic of the type of environmental leadership the business community can champion.  As previously noted in this blog, Tony Malkin and his team at the ESB, in conjunction with Johnson Controls, have been leaders not only in performing deep energy efficiency retrofits to the ESB, but also in spreading the message of the results. The energy efficiency retrofits at the ESB are a great example of how capital can be deployed towards both economic and environmental profits. You can see Tony discussing the economic and environmental benefits of their work at the Empire State Building here:

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/pmalik/energy_efficiency_made_cool.html

I very much look forward to a lively exchange of ideas at the BusinessClimate Conference.  Let’s get our heads together and start defining the new normal.  Gyrating markets, disaffected rioters, degrading ecosystems and extreme weather are all a part of one big challenge.  It’s time for thoughtful, holistic solutions.  Look forward to speaking to you all soon.

 

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