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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.

The film is free, but seating is limited. Please RSVP by registering here.

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.


  • Rob Diamond, Special Assistant to the President and Director of Private Sector Engagement, The White House

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
  • Piet Klop, Senior Advisor, Responsible Investment , PGGM Investments
  • 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.


  • Geeta Aiyer, President & Founder, Boston Common Asset Management (moderator)
  • Audrey Choi, Chief Executive Officer, Institute for Sustainable Investing, Morgan Stanley
  • Thomas Niemann, Global Social Sustainability Manager, Ford Motor Company
  • Christopher Rowe, Vice President, External Relations, 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.


  • Sean Kidney, Chief Executive Officer, Climate Bonds Initiative
  • 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, Bloomberg New Energy Finance

Big Data, Smaller Footprint: How Information is Revolutionizing Energy

Today, energy-saving appliances can turn themselves off and sensors can interact with engines to increase efficiency. Groundbreaking big data technology is enabling innovations like these to conserve resources and promote renewable energy on a massive scale. Join this session to hear from visionary business leaders who will each share their big data solutions and tackle tough questions about big data’s capacity to solve our global sustainability challenges.


  • Ashley Haynes Gasper, General Manager, Software Services, Measurement and Control, GE
  • Danny Kennedy, Co-Founder, Senior Vice President, Sungevity
  • Jonathan Koomey, Research Fellow, Steyer Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University (moderator)
  • Scott McGaraghan, Head of Energy Partner Products, Nest Labs
  • 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

Networking Break

12:30 PM


Opening Remarks
Barney Shauble, Managing Principal, Nephila Capital

Welcome Remarks
Helen Burt, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs, PG&E

Award Presentation: Joan Bavaria Award
Will Lana, CFA, Partner and Investment Manager, Trillium Asset Management

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
  • J. Miles Reiter, Chairman, Driscoll’s Inc.

2:15 PM

Networking Break

2:45 PM

Breakout Sessions

Investment and Collaboration: The Future of the Sustainable 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
  • Heather Franzese, Executive Director, Good World Solutions
  • 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)

Diving Into California's Water Crisis: Field Notes on the Drought

California's epic drought is a hugely important and complex issue with far-reaching implications for the state's economy. It's also sparking unprecedented re-questioning regarding historic uses of water, groundwater practices and overall water management. Join this provocative conversation to hear how California farmers, water utilities and other key players are facing these issues on the ground and preparing for a drier future. How are they managing with less water? Will the state's new policies such as mandatory restrictions and groundwater legislation do the job? What additional solutions are needed?


  • Barat Bisabri, Ph. D., Managing Partner, Shiraz Ranch LLC
  • Kirsten James, Senior Manager, California Policy and Partnerships, Ceres CA Office (moderator)
  • Lester Snow, Executive Director, California Water Foundation
  • J. Miles Reiter, Chairman, Driscoll’s Inc.
  • Nancy Sutley, Chief Sustainability and Economic Development Officer, LA Department of Water and Power

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.

**Please Note: This session will be extended until 4:45PM

Environmental Defense Fund [2:45 PM]
Zero Deforestation Zones: A New Model for Sourcing Commodities

Sourcing agricultural products like beef, palm oil and soy is destroying tropical forests. With a growing global population to feed, demand for these commodities will increase. Efforts to end deforestation fall short by focusing on individual farms rather than broader landscapes and put forward thinking companies at a disadvantage with competitors without similar requirements. The solution exists: “Zero Deforestation Zones”– areas on the scale of entire states that guarantee all commodities they supply do not contribute to deforestation. Join us to discuss this new model and the implications for businesses and farmers around the globe.


  • Andrew Hutson, Director of Global Value Chain Initiatives, Environmental Defense Fund

Institute for Sustainable Communities [3:30 PM]
The Power and Potential of Corporate Commitment: Achieving Urban Transformation and Sustainable Manufacturing in Partnership with Communities

The collaborative engagement of business with communities - citizens, government and NGOs – is key to accelerating climate solutions and helping transform our systems. The role of business as community leader, demonstrated through public-private partnerships in such critical areas as supply chain, carbon-reduction, resilience-building, infrastructure investment and smart cities, offers new ways for organizations to engage more deeply and bust open traditional silos. Please join us to discuss best practices and lessons learned as corporations engage more deeply at the community level.


  • George Hamilton, President, Institute for Sustainable Communities

Rocky Mountain Institute [4:10]
Accelerating Corporate Purchasing of Renewable Energy

Corporate capital has the power to unleash large amounts of renewable power, possibly doubling the current US renewable capacity in the next decade or more. There is an urgency to engage, collaborate, and enable corporates to further invest and deploy resources towards renewable energy. During this interactive session, we will explore why corporations are purchasing renewable energy and demonstrate how the pioneers and leaders were able to quickly change the market for renewable energy.


  • Lily Donge, Principal, Business Renewables Center, Rocky Mountain Institute
  • Marty Spitzer, World Wildlife Fund
  • Herve Touati, Business Renewables Center, Rocky Mountatin Institute


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.


  • Danny Kennedy, Co-Founder, Sungevity
  • Charlene Schachter, Chief Operating Officer, SfunCube

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 (cipriano@ceres.org) 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 (moderator)
  • Susan Sayers, Chief Development Officer, Ceres
  • John Weiss, Senior Manager, Corporate Program, 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.


  • Kirsten James, Senior Manager, California Policy and Partnerships, Ceres CA Office (moderator)
  • Stephanie Kotin, Senior Manager, Stakeholder Engagement and Public Policy, Levi Strauss & Co.
  • J. Miles Reiter, Chairman, Driscoll’s
  • Nancy Sutley, Chief Sustainability and Economic Development Officer, LA Deparment of Water and Power


9:15 aM

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

Keynote Address Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator

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

Public policy, investment and technology are the three legs of the stool that are essential for tackling climate change. To bring clean energy to scale globally, we’ll need breakthrough technologies, new financial vehicles and forward-looking policies. In this session, thought leaders and market actors from the public sector, the financial community and private enterprise will help us envision the clean energy future – what it looks like, and the creative new business models, investment approaches and policies that will help us get there.


  • Steve McBee, President and Chief Executive Officer, NRG Home
  • Mary Nichols, Chairman, California Air Resources Board
  • Raymond S. Wood, Managing Director, Head of US Power & Renewables, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

10:30 aM

Networking Break

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.


  • Anne Kelly, Senior Program Director, Policy and BICEP Program, Ceres (moderator)
  • Jonas Kron, Senior Vice President, Director of Shareholder Advocacy, Trillium Asset Management, LLC
  • Spencer Reeder, Senior Project Developer for Climate, Vulcan, Inc.
  • 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.
  • Rinaldo S. Brutoco, Founding President, World Business Academy
  • Susan Mac Cormac, Partner, Morrison & Foerster LLP
  • Beth Richtman, Portfolio Manager, California Public Employees’ Retirement System
  • Anne Simpson, Senior Portfolio Manager and Director of Global Governance, California Public Employees’ Retirement System

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

Human Rights Reporting as a Catalyst for Improved Corporate Practices

Investor, stakeholder, stock exchange and regulatory demands for better corporate reporting on human rights continue to increase. Yet, to date, corporate human rights reporting has focused primarily on activities divorced from core business practices. The UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework, launched in February 2015, is the first comprehensive guidance for companies to report on how they respect human rights in practice. As a risk management tool, the framework raises the bar for companies’ quality of disclosure, as well as the need for improved evaluation of human rights performance. This new framework comes alongside other tools, such as the launch of a benchmark analyzing the human rights performance of 500 global companies and an interactive online platform on human rights. Hear directly from company, investor, and civil society representatives about their expectations for assessing company reporting on human rights and how meaningful disclosure can advance performance and accountability. Then add your voice to the discussion on how human rights reporting can build markets for improved corporate practice.


  • Lauren Compere, Managing Director, Boston Common Asset Management
  • Beth Holzman, Advisor, Shift (moderator)
  • Steve Lippman, Director, Corporate Citzenship, Microsoft
  • Ed Marcum, Vice President, Investments, Humanity United

12:30 PM


Closing Session: The Beginning of the End of Oil: Disruptive Futures for the Oil Industry

As they stare down troubling fundamentals, the global oil industry’s most basic challenge is not lowered prices but weakening demand. Every significant global market for oil, and increasingly for natural gas too, is challenged by disruptive competitors – especially on the demand side – that hydrocarbon suppliers scarcely track. The pace of transformation may exceed what their culture can manage. As the world begins to meaningfully embrace a low carbon future and the prospect of getting off oil by 2050, what are the implications – and even opportunities – for oil companies.


  • Amory Lovins, Chairman and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute
  • Carl Pope, Principal, Inside Straight Strategies

3:00 pM

Conference Adjourns