I recently had the honor of speaking in Beijing at the “Green Economy” conference hosted by the China Association of Women Entrepreneurs (CAWE), WNSF’s longtime partner (CLICK HERE to see WNSF’s earlier China initiatives).
My own talk spotlighted major themes at WNSF’s two recent US Summits—including Europe’s lead and China’s rise in sustainability, the mounting sustainability concern of next-generation millenials, and the clean tech scenario as a possible sustainability ‘fix’ (CLICK HERE to see previous blog posts, speaker bios and more).
But the crescendo of the Beijing conference, jam-packed with inspiring messages from businesswomen in China, was the group signing of an ambitious “Go Green Action Plan,” a pledge by conference participants to lift their businesses to a higher level of sustainability.
It was an exhilarating moment, as I joined a crowd of businesswomen to add my name to a banner spanning nearly a whole wall that showcased the collective enthusiasm of conference attendees emboldened by a movement they have long supported—though perhaps with less fanfare and less overt purposefulness.
At WNSF’s two recent US Summits, speakers repeatedly mentioned China as an up-and-coming sustainability leader, as the country’s policy makers support new ‘green’ initiatives to clean up the environment, while stemming social tensions, along with clean technologies and businesses to bring that goal to fruition.
(Tell us: How do you or your organization work with China? How can joint efforts advance a more sustainable future?)
In Beijing, speakers at the ‘Go Green’ conference noted that after some 20 years of interest in the model of sustainable development, environmental degradation persists, along with poverty, even as China surges ahead economically. Add to those problems issues of food and water safety, as well as urgent awareness of climate change likely linked to China’s recent natural disasters, and the simple conclusion was that action is needed.
Work toward a ‘Green Economy,’ speakers added, could offer a new way to think about sustainable development, with a focus on environmentally friendly products and changes in production and consumption generally. It could also urge business to recognize that people are at the core of sustainable development, respecting society and workers. What’s more, speakers noted, there’s not just a need but an increasing opportunity to adapt new technologies to managing these problems.
The “Go Green Action Plan” supports the ‘green economy,’ what CAWE is calling “a new mode of economic development …to reach harmony between social economy and natural environment…,” as advocated by both the UN and China’s 12th five-year plan outline.
The Action Plan’s five goals include:
- Speedily pursuing sustainable and people-oriented development in business strategies.
- Identifying major business problems to ensure an innovative management approach before drafting business strategy (and implementation plans in line with China’s 12th five-year plan).
- Developing a specific business-wide ‘go green action plan’ by: promoting new technologies, new materials and new working processes; increasing green R&D investment in green products; creating green brands, products and services.
- Following regulations on emissions reduction and energy conservation, with an effort to use natural resources more efficiently, mitigate pollution, promote low-carbon technologies—and integrating these practices into the entire production, distribution and consumption chain.
- Promoting emerging strategic industries in expanding your own business—to contribute to China’s industrialized, information-based, urbanized and globalized market economy.
(Tell us: Which of these recommendations does your business follow now?)
More than the principles themselves, the enthusiasm of the Beijing conference attendees to embrace them was inspiration in action! And lest we think the principles are aimed only at Chinese women in business, here’s the final entreaty:
“Green economy is for the common interest of all mankind. We warmly welcome enterprises from all countries to join us for the promotion and development of green economy, and sincerely hope women entrepreneurs all over the world may share the opportunities and achievements brought about by China’s prosperity and progress. We wish to build a green and beautiful home for all mankind hand in hand with you!”