University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
Northstar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise

Solutions Summit 2012 | May 22

Solutions Summit 2012 brought sustainability practitioners and researchers from business, industry, the nonprofit sector and academia together to identify and advance strategies for collaboratively solving sustainability challenges. Keynote speaker Paul Hawken, an internationally renowned environmentalist, entrepreneur and author, will share his perspectives on the economic and ecological landscape in which innovation will be fostered in coming years with a focus on climate, minerals and oceans. Other featured presenters include sustainability leaders from 3M, Environmental Defense Fund, Caldrea, The Nature Conservancy, General Mills, eBay, Nestle Waters, and Truth Studio.

Attendees had the chance to:

  • Learn sustainability leaders’ strategies for success
  • Go beyond sound bites to in-depth conversations about sustainability challenges and solutions
  • Connect with other sustainability professionals to forge partnerships for future progress
  • Help shape the research agenda for solving sustainability’s biggest challenges

Photo Credit: ACF James Thomas


Click here to view the agenda for Solutions Summit 2012.

Keynote Speaker

The 2012 Keynote Speaker was Paul Hawken, an environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist, and
renowned author of Blessed UnrestNatural Capitalism and The Ecology of Commerce, among
other notable works. He presently heads OneSun, Inc., an energy company focused on ultra low-cost solar based on green chemistry and biomimicry; and he also founded the Natural Capital Institute, a research organization whose main project is WiserEarth, the first open source platform for global social change. Read Hawken’s full bio

About Solutions Summit

OVERVIEW | Sustainability is messy, complex and dynamic. Solutions Summit 2012 differed from other sustainability events by putting a sharper point on where sustainability challenges reside, identifying those effectively organizing to solve these challenges, and surfacing only the cutting edge of thought and practice resulting in the most likely to impact solutions. In addition, the conversation from the day continues to feed into a proven model of collaborative and relevant inquiry.

Solutions Summit 2012 was a one-day sustainability strategy event for interested and influential individuals in business, government, the academy and civil society. Up to 250 participants, including national and international leaders and experts, attended and shared pioneering insights that catalyze innovation to solve global sustainability challenges.

OBJECTIVE | This century’s environmental and social challenges were not created by a single country, industry or organization, and lasting solutions will not be found in a single election, an international treaty, or around a single boardroom. Lasting and resilient solutions will be those co-created by diverse stakeholders through shared understanding, pooled resources and joint action.

“The best way to predict the future is to influence the conversation about what it could or should be” (Corley and Gioia, 2011).

OUTCOME | The focus of the Solutions Summit will be dialogue, interaction and ongoing follow-up research addressing the linkages between public and private institutions and emerging institutional entrepreneurs constructing new norms, rules and routines necessary to break from current business-as-usual trajectories. Consideration will be taken for how industries work together to cross industry boundaries to make a difference. This difference may be a tool, new standards, new ways to organize, or a new vision on how the market works to consider environmental factors and internalize sustainability.

Kevin G. Corley, a. D. (2011). Building Theory About Theory Building: What Constitutes a Theoretical Contribution. Academy of Management Review, Vol. 36:1, 12-32.

NiSE is a program of the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment.

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