CGMF's top blog posts of 2014

What do ecosystems, big data, sustainability science, and the "triple bottom line" have in common? They were all subjects covered in the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation's top blog posts of 2014—topics that explored the limits of human capacity to create a sustainable society—with myriad opinions from a global community of experts tackling similar puzzles with wildly different tactics. 

Posts are listed in alphabetical order according to the author's name, with links to the full article and the author's background:

"Leveraging social innovation for sustainable change"

Lucia Athens, chief sustainability officer for the City of Austin, paints a poignant picture of a new era in sustainability innovation. She argues that, although our fascination with technology has by no means come to an end, there is a rapidly expanding realization that social innovation and human behavior are keys to achieving a more sustainable future. Technology alone just isn’t going to cut it.

"Together, we can advance conservation"

Everyone has a stake in the future of our land, water and wildlife. No matter where we live, our lives depend on the quality of our econsystems. Our open spaces are home to the ecological processes that provide clean water and air, as well as the basics of life—food, clothing, and shelter. In this beautiful essay, former First Lady Laura Bush highlights the responsibility we all share to be conservationists. 

"One thing Americans can agree on"

Politicians, pundits and ordinary people scanned the horizon for clues about the deeper meaning of the November 4, 2014 election and an America that seems deeply divided. Ernest Cook of The Trust for Public Land points out that there's one important issue in which Americans can agree on.

"When capitalists call for market revolutions"

The world must be in trouble if capitalists are beginning to call for “market revolutions,” declares John Elkington, executive chairman of Volans, and who originated the term "triple bottom line." He argues that markets must value and manage multiple forms of capital, including the human, social and natural forms.

"Rethinking business as usual"

The way we produce food is getting a lot of attention these days, and for good reason. If current projections hold, we’ll have nine billion mouths to feed by 2050—two billion more than we have today. David Festa of Environmental Defense Fund says if we’re going to meet growing needs for food and water, we’re going to have to do it in ways that not only stop harming the environment, but also actually improve the ecosystems that serve us. Business as usual just isn’t going to cut it. 

"The sustainability trajectory"

Jonathan J. Halperin, CEO of Designing Sustainability, tells the story of a little bakery just north of New York City that became the first business licensed in New York State as a Benefit Corporation.  Greyston Bakery joined companies like Patagonia, Etsy, and Ben & Jerry’s in advancing a fundamentally new model for business that focuses as much on a declared social mission as on its business purpose. The advent of benefit corporations signal the beginning of a profound structural shift in the business of doing business—the first of four disruptive shifts discussed in this essay.

"Quiet collaboration; big impact"

Neil Hawkins, corporate vice president, sustainability at The Dow Chemical Company, argues that the collaborations and innovations forged and the work-products achieved by the National Academies Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability will have dramatic impact in driving sustainable development over the next decade.  

"Our Common Journey: The birth of sustainability science"

More than fifteen years ago, the National Academy of Sciences joined with George Mitchell and the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation to jointly produce a study entitled Our Common Journey. Dr. Robert Kates, a pioneer in the sustainability movement, takes us on a journey through the birth and evolution of sustainability science.   

"Keeping open space open"

While it is easy to imagine that people living in the country and those in more urban environments are separated by insurmountable barriers of concrete and experience, it's simply not true. We stand on common ground. As humans, we all need the same things: healthy food, serviceable clothing, protective shelter, clean water, and open spaces. David K. Langford, vice president emeritus of the Texas Wildlife Association, writes that whether our roots are planted in the soil or our foundations are built on concrete, we must come to understand that as the land goes, so goes the water—and life as we know it.

"A fish story without exaggeration!"

Does locavore salmon raised in the American Midwest sound counterintuitive? If so, does the potential for farm-raised fish contributing to the heartland's economy and agriculture sound equally far-fetched? Larry Selzer, president and CEO of The Conservation Fund makes the case for both possibilities, emphasizing that they're "not just fanciful, but are beginning to happen."

"Delivering products we need, instead of products we have"

Dr. Daniel Sperling, professor and director, Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis says an amazing revolution in automotive technology is underway—and with important lessons for policymakers. He argues that strong government leadership and ambitious public policy can drive innovation.  

"Providing 'conservation' to the consumer"

Tensie Whelan, president of The Rainforest Alliance says that the "next time you open a bar of chocolate, think about how it smells, how it tastes, and then think about where it comes from, particularly about the farmer that grew the cocoa beans." She suggests that a transformation of the market place is happening now. Every year we're seeing a larger and more dramatic shift towards the availability and consumption of sustainable goods. Consumers are demanding fundamental change and the way they spend their dollars is proof.  

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