The Green Economy: Combining Profit and Planet

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Can creating business value and promoting sustainable development go hand in hand? We think so, and so do many leading companies. That’s why we’re excited to present a panel at the Rio+20 conference featuring speakers from Siemens, PepsiCo, and Mars. On June 17, 2012, these companies will reveal successful strategies that benefit the environment, their customers, and their bottom line.

Companies that Combine Profit and Planet

Each company has a compelling story to tell about how environmental initiatives can spur business opportunities and growth:

  • Siemens: Almost half (41 percent) of the company’s 2011 revenue came from products in its environmental portfolio, such as solar technologies and building automation systems.
  • PepsiCo: The company partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank to create a market for sunflower oil in Mexico, supporting its transition away from palm oil, which threatens forests, while providing healthy foods and beverages. The initiative will provide a stable income source for roughly 850 farmers and their families. This fits with the company’s “Performance with Purpose” approach which seeks to tie superior financial performance with its commitment to human and environmental sustainability, while “fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace.”
  • Mars: The environmental and social impacts of Mars’ business are embedded across its’ corporate culture and publically expressed by the CEO. The company’s “Sustainable in a Generation” approach aims to eliminate fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by 2040 and is helping prioritize the company’s capital investments toward those that will help it achieve a sustainable future.

The Role of Partnerships

These examples that combine profit and planet build on WRI’s Next Practice Collaborative, a partnership working to demonstrate that environmental sustainability is the key to long-term business competitiveness. We aim to influence decision-makers like CFOs by demonstrating and communicating the business case for investments that support a green economy. By prioritizing capital investments in projects that create sustainable advantage, leading companies are moving towards more transformative leadership for a green economy – all while growing their businesses.

These goals are shared by our colleagues at Forum for the Future, who also work with a small group of leading companies as part of their Sustainable Business Model Group. We have determined that by joining forces and collaborating on our research, we can expand our impact. Together, we are building a knowledge base of compelling business examples of how companies are advancing a green economy. We are documenting internal capital allocation approaches and other decisions that are helping companies prioritize investments that will help them compete in a sustainable future.

In the meantime, we are delighted that Forum for the Future’s CEO Peter Madden will join WRI’s Director International Climate and Energy Program Jennifer Morgan to help kick off our panel in Rio. Other panelists will include: Kersten-Karl Barth, Director-Sustainability for Siemens; Robert ter Kuile, Senior Director Sustainability – Global Public Policy for PepsiCo; and Andrew Hobday, Chief Sustainability Officer for Mars. The panel will be held on Sunday, June 17 2012 at 1:30 p.m. at the Copacabana Fort in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We’ll see you there!

For more information about WRI’s Next Practice Collaborative, contact Samantha Putt del Pino (sam@wri.org).

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