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Program and Agenda

Detailed conference agenda and program including times and descriptions of workshops, plenaries and networking receptions, speaker information and more.

2015 Ceres Conference: Innovate. Collaborate. Accelerate.

Download a PDF of the Ceres Conference 2015 agenda

Agenda Subject to Change


Tuesday, May 12

6:00 PM

Welcome Reception

Take in the beautiful San Francisco skyline and join us in kicking of the Ceres Conference 2015! This welcome reception will be a unique gathering of companies, investors, coalition members, as well as other conference attendees, and will provide a great networking opportunity before official programming begins.

8:00 PM

Movie Screening: The Great Invisible

A new film by Participant Media tells the tragic story of the Deepwater Horizon spill of 2010. Come meet the filmmaker Margaret Brown and join us for a discussion afterwards on what Ceres is doing to help the US move away from oil.

Wednesday, May 13

7:30 am

Registration Opens

8:00 AM

BICEP Breakfast of Climate Champions

Now more than ever, thoughtful businesses are the leading indicator of progress and promise as we transition to a clean energy economy. Join Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP) for a lively conversation about the current state of climate and energy policy in the United States.  Hear from the insiders what's next on the horizon and how companies can help bridge the divide and create change.

9:15 am

Opening Remarks: Mindy Lubber, President, Ceres

Opening Session: Setting Sail: Navigating the Circular Economy

Sailing solo around the globe necessitates careful use of life sustaining resources such as food and water, and serves as a micro example of the massive resource challenge facing humanity today. Join Dame Ellen MacArthur as she shares the inspiring story of her journey as a record breaking yachstman to an international champion for the circular economy—a system change in which we stop selling one-way consumption and instead focus on models that retain the value of our vital, finite resources.


  • Dame Ellen MacArthur, Ellen MacArthur Foundation
  • Jack Ehnes, Chief Executive Officer, California State Teachers’ Retirement System

10:30 AM

Networking Break

11:00 AM

Breakout Sessions

Harmonizing Disclosure: The Path Toward a Common Reporting Platform

Companies and investors are struggling to keep up with the fast-paced evolution of sustainability reporting frameworks and guidelines. 2014 saw a vigorous debate over whether one common framework would rule them all. The Corporate Reporting Dialogue was launched to identify where various disclosure regimes match up, overlap and can work together. While there is hope for a more streamlined mechanism, reporting burdens continue to escalate as the market matures in understanding the importance of ESG data. Join this session to learn about the current state of play and then weigh in, via discussion groups, on thorny topics like the changing definition of materiality.


  • Marisa Buchanan, Vice President, Sustainable Finance, JP Morgan Chase & Co.
  • Rodney Irwin, Managing Director Redefining Value & Education, World Business Council for Sustainable Development
  • Tracey Rembert, Senior Manager, Investor Engagement, Ceres (moderator)

Bridging the Gap: Aligning Investor Expectations and Corporate Sustainability

Now, more than ever, investors want to know that companies are positioning themselves for long-term success by integrating sustainability across their platforms - from the C-suite to operations to supply chains. Investors are increasingly integrating sustainability criteria and rewarding companies for demonstrating leadership. Last year, 52 percent of the largest U.S. companies engaged investors on sustainability, up from just 40 percent in 2012. This is a positive upswing, but more can be done, with some CEOs still saying they are not hearing from investors on the value of their sustainability efforts. Hear from leading investors and companies about the importance of taking bold action on environmental, social and governance challenges - and obstacles that remain.


  • Audrey Choi, Chief Executive Officer, Institute for Sustainable Investing, Morgan Stanley
  • Christopher Rowe, Senior Vice President, Prudential Investment Management

Catalyzing the Clean Trillion: Accelerating Clean Energy Opportunities

In order to transition to a sustainable low-carbon global economy, clean energy investment must increase by $1 trillion annually by 2030 – a several-fold increase from current levels. This will require scaled-up deployment of wide-ranging clean energy investment opportunities, including clean energy green bonds, asset-backed securities, public equity, direct corporate investments, and much more. What role can green bonds play in financing clean energy infrastructure? How can insurance companies, which manage trillions of dollars, boost their investments in this space? What are leading businesses doing to invest directly in renewable energy and energy efficiency? Join our expert panel for an engaging discussion on new developments – and challenges – for clean energy investment strategies.


  • Rob Olson, Chief Financial Officer, IKEA U.S.
  • Alicia Seiger, Deputy Director, Stanford Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy & Finance (moderator)
  • Ethan Zindler, Head of Americas and Head of Policy, Bloomberg New Energy Finance

Big Data, Smaller Footprint: How Information is Revolutionizing Energy

Humanity’s capacity to gather and process data is unprecedented and growing. From self-driving cars to appliances that know when to turn themselves on to drones that monitor crop health—these groundbreaking technologies are here to stay. While these technologies show great promise for drastically reducing negative environmental and social impacts there is also concern that big data could also promote unsustainable business practices. Join this session to hear from visionary business leaders who will each get in the “hot seat”, share their big data solutions and tackle tough questions about big data’s capacity to solve our global sustainability challenges.


  • Danny Kennedy, Co-Founder, Senior Vice President, Sungevity
  • Jonathan Koomey, Consulting Professor, Stanford University (moderator)
  • Brooke Reilly, Director of Demand Response, PG&E

Round and Round We Go: A Deeper Dive into the Circular Economy

As global populations grow and critical natural resources become increasingly stressed, interest in creating a circular economy – where growth does not require the endless consumption of limited resources – is gaining traction. Join this session to learn how a U.S-based aluminum manufacturer is reducing waste, transitioning to renewable energy and creating competitive products and services with little or no impact on the natural world. You will also hear about challenges and potential drawbacks.


  • John Gardner, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, Novelis
  • Alisa Gravitz, Executive Director, Green America (moderator)
  • Dame Ellen MacArthur, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

12:15 PM


12:30 PM


Award Presentation: Joan Bavaria Award


  • Will Lana, CFA, Partner and Investment Manager, Trillium Asset Management

Welcome Remarks

  • Helen Burt, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs, PG&E

Plenary Panel: The Future of Food

Sustaining agricultural productivity amid population growth, climate change, water scarcity and declining soil health is a daunting global challenge. And California, the nation’s food basket now in its fourth year of a devastating drought, is ground zero. Pressures on farmers and agricultural supply chains across the world are unprecedented. But there are solutions. Using California as a case study, this provocative plenary will highlight key strategies – and tough choices – for feeding the world’s seven billion people while preserving the planet.


  • Brooke Barton, Senior Program Director, Water Program, Ceres (moderator)
  • Dennis Dimick, Executive Editor, Environment, National Geographic Magazine
  • Janet Ranganathan, Vice President for Science and Research, World Resources Institute
  • Miles Reiter, Chief Executive Officer, Driscoll’s Inc.

2:15 PM


2:45 PM

Breakout Sessions

Strange Bedfellows: Collaboration in the Supply Chain

Dwindling natural resources, sourcing and transport disruptions from climate impacts, concerns for the safety and well-being of workers, and an overall lack of visibility and understanding about what's happening in factories and fields around the world are challenging both the success and stability of global supply chains. And no one company, industry, investor, or NGO can solve these issues alone. Systemic change requires a collaborative, concentrated effort that leverages the expertise of various constituencies, inspires innovative financial investment, and drives sustainable supply chains to scale. Hear directly from companies across a variety of sectors, including apparel, consumer product, and technology, as well as investors and NGOs, about the challenges and clear wins from incentivizing and collaborating with peers, suppliers, civil society, and others. Then lend your voice and expertise by joining the "fishbowl" discussion geared towards identifying practical opportunities to affect change.

**Please Note: This session will be extended until 4:15PM.


  • Amy Augustine, Senior Program Director, Corporate Program, Ceres
  • Michael Kobori, Vice President, Levi Strauss & Co.
  • Farzin Mirmotahari, Supply Chain Finance Product Specialist, International Finance Corporation
  • Tim Mohin, Director of Corporate Responsibility, AMD
  • Laura Rubbo, Director, International Labor Standards, The Walt Disney Company

Wasted Capital: Keeping Unburnable Carbon in the Ground

Two-thirds of the world’s fossil fuel resources must remain in the ground to prevent the worst economic and environmental impacts of climate change. Around the world, investors are pushing oil and coal companies to pay closer attention to the emerging low-carbon global economy that could ‘strand’ significant portions of coal and gas reserves, undermining investment portfolios. Revising the business strategies of fossil fuel companies, however, will require bold and innovative approaches. Join this timely session to explore actions investors are taking right now – from engagement to portfolio-wide de-carbonization to divestment – to persuade companies to address carbon asset risks.


  • Mark Fulton, Founding Partner, Energy Transition Advisors; Senior Fellow, Ceres
  • Natasha Lamb, Director of Equity Research and Shareholder Engagement, Arjuna Capital
  • Andrew Logan, Director, Oil & Gas, Insurance Programs, Ceres (moderator)
  • Brian Rice, Portfolio Manager, Corporate Governance, California State Teachers Retirement System
  • Bill Slaton, Board of Directors, California State Public Employees’ Retirement System

Beyond CSR: Telling Your Sustainability Story in the Digital Age

Corporate sustainability reporting is fast becoming the norm for the world’s largest corporations. It’s also a requirement in some countries. So how can companies more creatively communicate what they are doing to improve communities, the environment and their bottom line on sustainability? How can they leverage storytelling and social platforms to go beyond the traditional CSR report and reach a broader audience? Hear cutting-edge examples from leading companies and communications experts. Bring your own ideas and be a part of this rich discussion.


  • Jonathan Halperin, Founder & President, Designing Sustainability
  • Adam Mott, Director, Sustainability, The North Face
  • Stephanie Rico, Business Initiatives Manager, Environmental Affairs, Wells Fargo & Company
  • Tim Woodall, Strategist, Sustainability Communications, Addison (moderator)

Hot Topics: Discussions Led by Ceres Coalition Members

Ceres Coalition Members will be hosting informal discussions on a variety of topics throughout the afternoon. Join one or more discussions to take a deep dive into a specific sustainability issue in a small group setting.

Field Trips

Solar For All: Clean Energy in California and Beyond

Bold innovation is critical to make clean energy more accessible as global energy use increases. Take a trip across the bay to Oakland, a hub for successful clean energy technology and headquarters of Sungevity, a fast-growing solar electricity company. Get a first-hand look at how Sungevity is using satellite imagery to retrofit houses with the most efficient solar energy systems. Learn how it is overcoming regulatory barriers to scale its business across the U.S.

The Living Machine: A Model of Sustainable Infrastructure

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission headquarters is re-defining the term green sustainable infrastructure. See first hand how the commission’s headquarters is reducing energy consumption and its overall carbon footprint. Check out the “Living Machine,” an on-site system that uses a traditional wetland ecosystem to filter the building’s potable water for reuse. After the tour, building designers and sustainable infrastructure experts will discuss how this model is being replicated across San Francisco and in other North American cities.


  • Paula Kehoe, Director of Water Resources, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
  • Sharlene Leurig, Director, Water Program, Ceres (moderator)
  • John F. Williams, II, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Impact Infrastructure, LLC.

**Please Note: Space on these field trip breakout sessions is limited and attendance will be on a first come first serve basis. Please choose this session as an agenda item when you register or reach out to Brittany Cipriano ( for more information.

4:00 PM


6:00 PM

Networking Reception

Thursday, May 14

7:30 AM

Registration opens

8:00 aM

Ceres 101

Whether you’re a first-timer at the conference or a long-time friend of Ceres, you probably have a question or two about who we are and what we do. Please join us for a breakfast with Ceres staff, and learn more about Ceres and how we are mobilizing businesses and investors to build a thriving, sustainable global economy. You’ll have an opportunity to meet some Ceres sustainability experts, network with conference attendees, and learn more from our program staff about their work.


  • Andrew Logan, Director, Oil & Gas, Insurance Programs, Ceres
  • Susan Sayers, Chief Development Officer, Ceres

It's Time to "Connect the Drops" Breakfast Session

As California’s devastating drought enters its fourth year, its residents and businesses must become smarter about maximizing the existing water supply. While the economic impact of the drought is unprecedented, many of the solutions that could mitigate its impacts - increased water efficiency, groundwater management and metering, reuse and stormwater capture, and cross-sector partnerships - remain underutilized.

Join a group of leading companies and other stakeholders to discuss the role of Connect the Drops, a campaign that urges bold action by both the private and public sectors in California to maximize local water supplies and contribute to a more resilient economy, in securing a sustainable water future for the state.

9:15 aM

Opening Remarks: Anne Stausboll, Chief Executive Officer, California Public Employees’ Retirement System

Plenary Panel, Igniting Innovation: A Vision for the Clean Energy Future

Public policy and investment are essential for tackling climate change—yet there’s a third critical leg of the stool: clean energy innovation. To bring clean energy to scale globally, we’ll need breakthrough technologies and new creative business models. In this session, leading clean energy innovators will help us envision the clean energy future—what it looks like and how we get there. We will hear from business leaders who are transforming electric utility models to accelerate clean energy deployment, and entrepreneurs who are making once-futuristic electric vehicles a present-day reality.


  • Steve McBee, President and Chief Executive Officer, NRG Home
  • Raymond S. Wood, Managing Director, Head of US Power & Renewables, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

10:30 aM


11:00 aM

Breakout Sessions

Walk the Talk: Effective Corporate Political Engagement

Active participation from companies in the climate change and energy debate is critical for creating workable policy solutions. Simply put, policymakers respond when businesses speak up. Effectively telling your story can help shape broad energy solutions that work for business. Join us for a conversation on effective engagement on climate change, energy and sustainability policy. You’ll hear first-hand accounts of lessons learned in managing obstacles and how to tell and sell a story that changes minds, moves markets and leads to systemic change.


  • Dune Ives, Senior Director, Vulcan Philanthropy, Vulcan Inc.
  • Anne Kelly, Senior Program Director, Policy and BICEP Program, Ceres (moderator)
  • Jonas Kron, Senior Vice President, Director of Shareholder Advocacy, Trillium Asset Management, LLC
  • Jennifer Vervier, Director of Strategy and Sustainability, New Belgium Brewing Company

Rubber Meets the Road: Connecting Board Oversight and Sustainability Performance

Investors and other stakeholders are increasingly focused on corporate systems and policies – including board oversight – that will improve sustainability performance. In fact, nearly one-third of large U.S. companies have some sort of oversight mechanism in place for tackling sustainability challenges, according to Ceres’ Gaining Ground report. Join this session to explore what effective board oversight looks like and how it can be structured in a way that contributes to sustainability performance changes.


  • Michelle Banks, Executive Vice President, General Counsel, Corporate Secretary, Chief Compliance Officer, Gap Inc.
  • Susan Mac Cormac, Partner, Morrison & Foerster LLP
  • Anne Simpson, Senior Portfolio Manager and Director of Global Governance, California Public Employees’ Retirement System
  • Rinaldo Brutoco, Founding President, World Business Academy

Valuing Every Drop: Making Decisions that Reflect Water's True Value

Water is arguably our most precious natural resource, yet it is routinely underpriced, undervalued and treated as if supplies are limitless.  Even today, amid intensified droughts, groundwater depletion and persistent water contamination, most companies and investors are not appropriately valuing freshwater - whether as a vital natural resource, a fundamental human right or a scarce economic input. Learn from water experts on how to improve the way water is valued in our businesses, investments and communities.


  • Newsha K. Ajami, Director of Urban Water Policy, Stanford University
  • Libby Bernick, Senior Vice President, North America, Trucost
  • Sharlene Leurig, Director, Water Program, Ceres (moderator)
  • Jason Morrison, Program Director, Pacific Institute

Spotlight Session: To Be Announced

12:15 pM

Keynote Address

  • Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

12:45 PM


1:00 PM

Closing Session

  • Amory Lovins, Chairman and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute

3:00 pM

Conference Adjourns

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