New York City Earth Week: Thought Leaders Converge to Discuss Sustainability

By Martha Shaw

New York City was alive with ‘meetings of the minds’ around Earth Day.
The Sustainable Operations Summit

The Sustainable Operations Summit gathered together some of the brightest bulbs in the energy industry for two days of workshops and discussions on pressing issues like waste, cleaner fleets, cities, efficiency, innovations, and clean technology’ Luminaries included Amory Lovins, President Bill Clinton, and the team that green retrofitted the Empire State Building. But particularly moving was a Call for Consciousness by actor activist Trudie Styler.
Clean Energy Investors Summit

Another gathering of smart people was the Clean Energy Investors Summit where Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. lived up to his reputation as a resolute defender of the environment with a moving keynote speech.

“Wherever you see environmental destruction, I will show you corrupt capitalism… corporate crony capitalism. They have the money to handpick our government officials, even our President. Corporations should not be running our government because they don’t want the same thing for America as we do.”

His inspiring keynote addressed the problem of corporations acting solely in the self-interest of their shareholders, which often means converting our natural resources into fast cash. The following discussions lead to where they often lead: to campaign finance reform and discontinuing subsidies to dirty energy producers to create a free market that will allow clean energy companies to compete. This way, American citizens can stop paying for pollution.
The Road to Rio+20

A Rio+20 event at the United Nations on Thursday focused on the 70 percent of the Earth’s surface covered by oceans. Lisa Speer of NRDC’s International Oceans Program moderated a panel that included Julian Barbiere of UNESCO, Inter-governmental Ocean Commission and oceanographer Fabien Cousteau.

Fabien Cousteau“We’re great at drawing lines on maps to protect sanctuaries, why not draw them in the oceans?” he said in support of marine sanctuaries.

The panel agreed that marine-protected areas are the best way to bring back the fisheries and that nobody should be fishing if we don’t know what they’re catching. There was also consensus that any fishing operation that refuses to register its fishing methods and what it is catching, does not deserve to fish in our common area.

The panelists implored the United Nations to exemplify responsibility for our oceans by adopting sustainable practices like getting rid of single-use plastic, a theme for Rio+20 from the Plastic Pollution Coalition. Cousteau and his co-panelists did paint a grim picture of the future of our oceans but not without cause.

As Cousteau noted in conclusion, “We don’t have 50 years. It’s more like 10 [years] before a total collapse of the oceans. There won’t be another Earth Summit if we don’t act now.”
The New York Green Festival

The Green Festival made its debut in New York City on Earth Day weekend with sustainable businesses showcasing their products and services at the Javitz Center. The two-day event concluded with a special showing of film The Big Fix that gave an alarming account of the cover-up of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Coming up: The Road to Rio+20

Next week, on Tuesday, May 1st, from 1:00 to 3:00pm, CSRwire CEO Joe Sibilia will join other founders and leaders of sustainable businesses for The Missing Voice: Visionary Eco-preneurs Share Lessons Learned at the UN Church Center. They will speak out about Rio+20, and explore ways to have a voice in the building of a global green economy, at Rio+20 and beyond. To RSVP for this, please email