Reflections on This Year’s Forum

Carol Singer Neuvelt

Thank you again to everyone who took the time out of your busy schedules to join us in Indianapolis for the 18th annual EHS Management Forum last month. As we settle back into the work flow, I just wanted to take a moment and reflect on a few of the big ideas I thought emerged from this year’s event. 

Transparency is the future and the future is already here: As our opening keynote, Daniel Goleman, pointed out, new media and information exchange channels are changing how we understand the world, the products we consume and the choices we make. Radical transparency tools, such as Good Guide, are giving us greater insight into the complextity of the global supply chain and allowing consumers to better understand a product’s eco-footprint as an important variable in the price=value/benefit equation.  Bookending the conference with this same idea, “The Restaurant Guys,” Francis Shott and Mark Pascal, playfully explained how this cultural awareness is already affecting everyday consumer decisions, such as the food we buy and what we are willing to pay for it.  Indeed, both keynotes were a glimpse of the impact a well-educated public can have on business in this new age of radical transparency.

It’s all about connections: Just as Nancy Robert’s systemic thinking session reminded us, the future of business is about interdisciplinary cooperation and collaboration.  The opportunity to spend a few days apart learning from peers further affirmed that our connections to one another prove invaluable to solving the challenges ahead. We hope NAEM’s new online community will help strengthen your connections and access to other thought leaders and experts in our field.  I hope you’ll join us as we continue the conversation online by joining a discussion group, volunteering for a committee or sharing your thoughts here on The Green Tie.

EHS professionals are preparing business for the future: As always, it was thrilling to hear about the work you do and how you transform an idea into a concrete process with a measurable (and improvable!) result. From hearing about your continued efforts to ensure EHS compliance and progress with life cycle assessments, to learning about your efforts to define critical performance metrics and begin measuring Scope 3 GHG emissions, this year’s conference was a veritable showcase of your thought leadership.  Without your work, companies would be ill-equipped to meet the increased demands from external stakeholders,  articulate the impacts of businesses on the environment and define a strategy for sustainable growth.

If you missed the Forum, but would like to hear the two top attendee-ranked sessions, I encourage you to join us for the “Best of Forum” webinar series, taking place on  November 16 and December  2.   Visit our events page for details and to register.

If you attended this year’s Forum, I invite you to tell us, what trends or ideas are most memorable for you? What was your favorite Forum session? Why?

About Carol Singer Neuvelt

Carol Singer Neuvelt is Executive Director of NAEM. Her long-term perspective and insights into corporate EHS and sustainability best practices also have been featured in a variety of publications, including The Chicago Tribune, the Bureau of National Affairs, Environmental Leader, the National Safety Council’s Safety+Health magazine and Sustainable Life Media. She is the former Deputy Director for the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Public Liaison, where she managed the agency’s interaction with external stakeholders. Follow her on Twitter at @carol_neuvelt.

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