World Innovation Forum and Sustainability

June 18, 2013

Last week, I attended the World Innovation Forum in NYC hosted by the World of Business Ideas (WOBI). The event drew over 800 attendees from 32 countries -- everyone talking about the buzzy I-word: Innovation.

(almost) Everyone wants to be innovative. From the open-sourced encyclopedia "Wikipedia", we find this definition of Innovation: "the application of new solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulate needs, or existing market needs. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments and society. The term innovation can be defined as something original and new that "breaks in to" the market or into society. One usually associates to new phenomena that are important in some way.

In other words -- adjectives -- innovation is:

* New

* Better

* Important

There were many new/better/important ideas presented at the Forum, including commercial space travel, delivered by the CEO of Virgin Galactic.

The space travel talk was cool, but for me, the sustainability consultant, I was heartened and inspired by how many of the presentations were sustainability-centric. Whether it was young college students and entrepreneurs presenting on their awesome new ideas (e.g. solar powered public seats/cell phone chargers), to the Co-director of the Business and Environment Initiative at Harvard presenting on the business/environment link, to the Deloitte water experts...the real theme of the Innovation Forum was "Sustainability".

This is good news. We are not going to "increment" our way out of the energy, water, waste, climate, land use issues we face on a global scale. We are going to have to innovate our way to a sustainable future where we no longer are talking about sustaining but about restoring and thriving.

 

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