The conference has kicked off and the Sense & Sustainability team has hit the ground running. From the plenary session to breakout panels, S&S was well represented.
During the opening session, our message for this conference – that sustainability matters from the factory floor to the boardroom – found purchase in the speakers’ presentations. For example, Suk-In Chang, Senior Research Fellow at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade, introduced the concept of the ‘hyper-connected consumer’. Created by rapid expansion of internet connected technology, this is a smart and rational consumer that has a ‘thinner wallet’ and searches not only for value in multi-functionality, but also for sustainability. If businesses want to meet the demands of these new hyper-connected consumers, they will need to pay attention not only to aesthetics and functionality, but also to the impact on the environment of their products. He continued by arguing that the importance of sustainability to modern business models does not end with consumer preferences; instead, sustainability makes economic sense for corporations, a topic covered by S&S in articles such as Banking on Nature and Certifiably Green The fact of the matter is that sustainability is not a ‘cost issue’ that businesses should take on solely for the sake of appearances and a commitment to corporate social responsibility ; rather, sustainability offers real strategic and financial benefits that will soon transform it into a universal standard.
What’s more, Mikyeong Jeong, Director of Money Today Media and Executive Director of the KEY Platform, went on to emphasize the importance of something very dear to us here at S&S – the value of networks and an interdisciplinary approach. We believe that networks are key to bridging the divide between knowledge and practice in all things sustainable: it was validating to hear this senior level executive applaud our approach as the secret to successful innovation.
The value of S&S’ network manifested as team member Heather Henriksen, Director of the Office of Sustainability at Harvard University, presented during the plenary session. Speaking via video feed from Harvard, rather than flying to be here in person, she made a statement about the ways new technology allows companies to reduce their environmental impact. Commenting on the previous speakers’ understanding of hyper-connected consumers and the necessity of looking to external networks in developing sustainable models, Ms. Henriksen also managed to describe in depth Harvard’s sustainability efforts.
The day was rounded out with Jisung Park, Founder and Co-Director of S&S, delivering the opening remarks to the New Media breakout session and moderating a panel on ‘The Rapidly Changing Media Environment’; James Hacker, Co-Director and Editor-in-Chief of S&S presenting on “Opportunities to Bridge the Knowledge Practice Divide”; and Patrick Behrer, Managing Editor of S&S, moderating a panel on “The Evolution of Media Technology and Future of the New Media Market.” For coverage of these presentations, and more, keep an eye for a new post coming soon. Also, remember to follow @senstainable on Twitter as we live-tweet conference action.