Program and Agenda
2015 Ceres Conference: Innovate. Collaborate. Accelerate.
Agenda Subject to Change
Tuesday, May 12
Wednesday, May 13
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.
Opening Remarks: Mindy Lubber, President, Ceres
Opening Session: To Be Announced
Harmonizing Disclosure: The Path Toward a Common Reporting Platform
Companies and investors have struggled to keep up with the fast-paced evolution of sustainability reporting frameworks and guidelines. 2014 witnessed vigorous debate over whether one common framework would rule them all. And 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 of reporting expectations and then weigh in on thorny topics like the changing definition of materiality in discussion groups.
Spotlight Session: The New Climate Economy
Tackling climate change is one of the greatest economic opportunities of the twenty-first century. This session will dig into the latest research on how to achieve economic prosperity while also combating climate change. Participants will discuss the findings from the New Climate Economy report that examined how to improve economic well-being while reducing carbon emissions. Discussion questions will include: How can decision-makers achieve their economic goals, such as job creation, investment, poverty reduction, while simultaneously reducing climate risk? And what are the risks and opportunities of both low-carbon and high-carbon economic pathways?
Catalyzing the Clean Trillion: Accelerating Clean Energy Opportunities
In order to transition to a sustainable low-carbon, clean energy economy, clean energy investment must increase by $1 Trillion annually by 2030 -- nearly a fivefold increase from current levels. This will require scaled-up deployment of a range of existing and new clean energy investment opportunities, including clean energy green bonds, direct corporate deployment of clean energy, and more. What role can “green bonds” play in financing clean energy infrastructure? How can the insurance sector, which holds trillions of dollars in investments scale up investment in this critical area? What are leading businesses doing to invest directly in renewable energy and energy efficiency? Join us for an engaging discussion of some of the latest developments and opportunities for clean energy investment strategies.
Think Big: Using Big Data to Meet Today’s Sustainability Challenges
Today, across almost nearly every company, industry and sector, data is being collected in unprecedented ways. Big data software has the capability to use this data to locate inefficiencies within a system and identify modifications that can be made to reduce both the economic and environment impact of the system. Join this session to learn from clean technology leaders who will share real-world examples of how big data has transformed their industries and discuss why big data might be the unexpected “skeleton key” to a sustainable future.
Round and Round We Go: Exploring the Circular Economy
As global populations explode and critical natural resources become increasingly stressed, interest in creating a circular economy-one where growth does not require the endless consumption of limited resources-has escalated. Join this session to learn how innovative companies are reducing waste, transitioning to renewable energy and creating products and services that are designed to have little or no impact on the nature world. Participants will also discuss challenges and potential drawbacks of this model and explore the best methods for rapidly scaling new innovative sustainability solutions.
Award Presentation: Joan Bavaria Award
Plenary Panel: The Future of Food
The challenges of sustaining agricultural productivity in the face of population growth, growing food demand, climate change, water scarcity and declining soil health can seem daunting. In California, now entering its 4th year of drought, agriculture faces an almost existential crisis. Across the world, the pressures on farmers and agricultural supply chains are unprecedented. But there are solutions. This panel will highlight key strategies for feeding the world’s 7 billion people while preserving the planet, using California agriculture as a case study.
Strange Bedfellows: Collaboration in the Supply Chain
Dwindling natural resources, climate-related sourcing disruptions, human right concerns, and a lack of transparency about factory and field conditions are challenging both the success and stability of global supply chains. And no one company, industry, investor, or NGO can solve these issues alone. Collaborative, concentrated effort across various constituencies is essential to drive systemic change and bring sustainable supply chains to scale. Hear from companies in the apparel, food and beverage, and technology sectors, as well as investors and NGOs, about the challenges and clear wins from collaborating with peers, suppliers and civil society. Then lend your voice and expertise by joining the "fishbowl" discussion to identify practical opportunities to affect change.
Beyond CSR: Telling Your Sustainability Story in the Digital Age
Corporate sustainability reporting is not only the norm for the world’s top corporations, it’s becoming mandatory in some countries. How can companies up the ante and more creatively communicate what they are doing to improve communities and the environment as well as their bottom line? How can companies use storytelling, media, blogs and social platforms to go beyond the traditional CSR report and reach a broader audience? In this session you will hear examples from leading companies and experts and discuss new trends in corporate sustainability communications. Come prepared with questions and your own examples for a rich discussion about how your company can go beyond the CSR report to better communicate your sustainability efforts.
Wasted Capital: Keeping Unburnable Carbon in the Ground
Two-thirds of the world’s fossil fuel resources must remain in the ground to prevent a “roasted world” scenario. Many investors view this unburnable carbon as posing a “carbon asset risk,” with negative consequences for investment portfolios that include significant fossil energy holdings. Yet, getting powerful oil, gas and coal companies to move beyond business-as-usual will require innovative approaches. Join this session to explore actions investors are taking —from engagement to portfolio de-carbonization—to address carbon asset risk and persuade fossil fuel companies to shift capital from high-risk, high-carbon projects to lower-risk, lower-carbon opportunities.
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. Check back for a list of topics in the New Year!
Solar For All: Clean Energy in California and Beyond
As global energy use continues to increase, innovation to make clean energy more accessible will play a crucial roll in our ability to sustainably meet these growing demands. Take a trip across the bay to Oakland, San Francisco’s neighboring city, a hub for successful clean energy technology ventures in California and beyond. Tour the headquarters of Sungevity, a global solar electricity company. See how through their remote solar design process, Sungevity uses satellite imagery to retrofit houses with the most efficient solar energy systems and to overcome the most common barriers to bringing solar power to residential homes.
The Living Machine: A Model of Sustainable Infrastructure
New green infrastructure designs have the potential to change the way we look at buildings and the systems they are traditionally connected to. Join us for a quick ride down the street to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission headquarters, a semi self-sustaining building in the heart of the city and the first of its kind in the country. Take a tour of the building, including the on-site “Living Machine,” a system that uses a traditional wetland ecosystem to filter the building’s potable water for reuse. Learn about other green features of SFPUC headquarters that have substantially reduced the building’s energy consumption and overall carbon footprint. Following the tour, building designers and sustainable infrastructure experts will discuss how this model can be and already is being replicated throughout San Francisco and cities throughout North America.
**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 (email@example.com) for more information.
Thursday, May 14
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.
Opening Remarks: To Be Announced
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 market, what is most needed: breakthrough technologies, innovative new business models, or both? In this session, leading clean energy innovators will help us envision a clean energy future—what it looks like and how we get there. We will hear from innovators who are changing our electric power systems to accelerate deployment of clean energy, and entrepreneurs who are making once-futuristic electric vehicles a current-day reality.
Walk the Talk: Effective Corporate Political Engagement
Active participation from the private sector in the climate change and energy debate is critical for creating workable policy solutions. Policymakers respond when businesses speak up, and have a story to tell. 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.
Rubber Meets the Road: Connecting Board Oversight and Sustainability Performance
Accountability drives performance. And stakeholders today are increasingly focused on corporate systems and policies—including board oversight—that drive sustainability performance. Companies recognize this, as Ceres Gaining Ground report found. Close to one-third of large US companies have some sort of oversight mechanism in place. 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. We will also examine stakeholder expectations on the disclosure of these systems.
Valuing Every Drop: Making Decisions that Reflect Water's True Value
Water is arguably our most precious natural resource, yet typically it is underpriced, undervalued and treated as if we have a limitless supply. Even today, with intensified droughts, groundwater depletion and persistent water contamination, the majority of companies and investors are not appropriately valuing freshwater - whether in its role as a form of natural capital, a fundamental human right, or a scarce economic input. Come learn from water experts about water's multiple facets and ways to improve how we value water in our businesses, investments and communities.
Spotlight Session: To Be Announced
Closing Session: To Be Announced