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Forging Business Sector Collaboration to Promote Long-term Prosperity

Companies that have embarked on sustainability initiatives often find them to be valuable but difficult to implement concurrently in local, national, regional, and global contexts. Collective industry initiatives exist at the international, national, and local levels to support these efforts, but there is no device in the US/Canadian Great Lakes region to support industry activities and inform regional policy. Policymakers and other regional stakeholders therefore have limited awareness of company initiatives, their impact, and the knowledge they generate.

Great Lakes industry can exercise sustainability leadership by identifying the relevant economics, structures, and processes that define sustainability in this globally-important region. A regional strategy will highlight actions already underway to pursue sustainability in this region and will demonstrate natural resource stewardship in regional, national, and global markets. If industry does not lead in developing a regional sustainability strategy, the risk exists that outside entities will step forward to define a sustainability agenda that is not aligned with the region’s unique governance structure, natural resource characteristics, and economic power, or does not support the business case and enable companies to demonstrate return on investment. Any regional sustainability goals or approaches must be in the language of business and resonate with business leaders.

CGLI and its partner organizations are meeting this challenge by providing a platform for industry collaboration to promote the long-term sustainability of the Great Lakes region through sustainability activities. Representative from participating companies will work with colleagues from the business sector and beyond to shape a strategy that enables companies with operations in the Great Lakes to take concerted and coordinated action to support the long-term prosperity of the region. The core objectives of the initiative are:

  • Identify actions for addressing threats to the long-term prosperity of the region
  • Develop a strategic framework and action agenda that enables companies to move from awareness to coordinated action on triple-bottom-line solutions
  • Demonstrate the competitive advantage that stems from sustainability investments, and
  • Foster a regional cohort of business sector sustainability champions

The first invitation-only workshop has been scheduled for November 13-14, 2018 at the Wingspread Executive Retreat and Conference Center near Racine, WI. At the first workshop, participants will

  • Explore available and emerging sustainability frameworks that can be applied regionally
  • Identify priority issues of common concern to Great Lakes companies
  • Establish a working structure for the strategic framework, and
  • Generate actionable ideas for regional coordination and partnerships

The draft agenda for the first workshop is available here. Additional workshops are planned for mid-January 2019 and mid-March 2019 in Ann Arbor, Detroit, or Chicago.

An Advisory Group of corporate sustainability leaders from Great Lakes industry is helping to develop the scope and content of the initiative. Advisory Group members include:

  • Lindy Coady, Chief Sustainability Officer, Enbridge Pipelines, Inc.
  • Davor Grgic, Former Chief Information Officer and Vice President, Sustainability, Kohler Corporation
  • Linda Hilbert, Executive Director of Environmental and Laboratory Services, Consumers Energy
  • Kim Marotta, Global Senior Director Sustainability, MolsonCoors
  • Michelle Nutting, Manager, Agriculture Sustainability, Nutrien
  • Valeria Orozco, Director, Nestlé Waters North America
  • Bill Steers, General Manager, Communications & Corporate Responsibility, Arcelor Mittal
  • Nelson Switzer, Chief Growth Officer, Loop Industries, Inc.
  • Emilio Tenuta, Vice President, Corporate Sustainability, Ecolab
  • Mark Weick, Lead Director, Sustainability and Enterprise Risk Management, The Dow Chemical Company

Partner organizations include the Council of the Great Lakes Region, Meridian Institute, and The Piñero Group. Funding has been provided by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, and The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread. For more information, check out the brochure or contact Kathryn A. Buckner, kabuckner@cgli.org or 734-663-1944.