OG11- Global Gamechangers Panel

Posted on 10. Nov, 2011 by in Design & Culture, Events, Interviews

The Global Gamechangers panel was held this morning at the OG11 conference. Moderated by Sherry Simpson-Dean, a filmmaker and the immediate past Executive Director of Opportunity Green, the panel was a brief yet eye-opening look at building movements to promote sustainability worldwide.

First up was Don Cheadle, actor and current U.N. Environment Program Goodwill Ambassador. He stressed the need for a targeted approach. Don recalled his experience with bringing publicity to the situation in Rwanda, and called for a similarly sustained and aggressive effort when discussing sustainability.

Next was Leslie Cordes, a senior advisor at the United Nations Foundation. She discussed the 2012 U.N. Year of Sustainable Energy for All. According to the U.N., energy inequality problems persist, and 2 to 3 billion people still live without access to energy services. An example is a lack of access to clean cookstoves, leading to problems in health, women’s security, and the environment. Leslie outlined sustainable energy as critical to the global development agenda.

Lastly, Jeremy Heimans, co-founder & CEO of Purpose, explained his term ‘movement entrepreneur,’ and how he uses technology to create new forms of consumer and constituent power. Through his company, Jeremy mobilizes people around issues like climate change. He emphasized the need to focus on citizen power to increase demand for a low-carbon 21st century. Jeremy highlighted two challenges to creating this demand.

1. Companies use a generic and undifferentiated approach towards sustainability. It is difficult- if not impossible- to tell the difference between the Koch brothers and GE on their respective websites, since both claim a “commitment to sustainability,” even though in practice they are markedly different.

2. Consumers have not been engaged. Marketers need to think more like movement-builders, and companies will increasingly need to change what they sell if they wish to continue attracting consumers.

Sherry then posed the question: What would you tell companies trying to address sustainability?

Jeremy said companies need to change their fundamental economic engine, and they should start with internal composition rather than external marketing. Those that focus on international transformational work and large-scale participation are the ones that, over time, will be differentiated.

Leslie wants to work with companies in developing countries to help them understand the environmental hardships caused by a lack of energy access and initiate clean energy movements.

Don envisions a need to be more focused in exactly what we ask to help build a cohesive movement and move towards the same result of sustainability.

All three panelists demonstrate an impressive passion for and understanding of the sustainability movement. It is encouraging to see gamechangers from three different backgrounds all moving towards the same goal.

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