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Global Business/Environmental Initiative: April 14-16 Conference
April 8, 2008, Volume 54, No. 28

The University of Pennsylvania has joined forces with leaders from US businesses, government and non-governmental organizations to launch a new initiative on business and the environment.

The Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL), led by Penn’s Wharton School, will address the environmental issues facing businesses today from academic and policy-oriented perspectives. This cross-disciplinary endeavor also includes faculty from Penn’s schools of Arts and Sciences, Design, Engineering and Applied Science, Law and Medicine.

“IGEL will bring the expertise of Penn faculty together with a network of leading experts in relevant fields from around the world to discuss and research topics concerning business and the natural environment,” said Dr. Eric Orts, professor of legal studies and business ethics and founding director of the initiative. “This unique business orientation and top intellectual/research capacity will be brought to bear on some of the most important long-term environmental challenges we face today.”

IGEL will provide forums for business leaders with environmental responsibilities to consult with Penn faculty and selected experts on emerging issues, existing or proposed national and international regulation, best practices and the most current relevant research findings.

Also, the initiative will facilitate research on environmental issues of most interest to the business and policy-making communities. This includes a potential partnership with Tsinghua University in Beijing and the Paris Institute for Technology—École de Mines—in France.

Business and environmental summits will be held annually on issues of greatest concern. This year’s conference will be April 14-16 in The Hub Cira Centre, at the Cira Centre. Its goals are to raise awareness of the need for businesses to work with academics, government and non-governmental groups to tackle environmental challenges and to identify topics and issues deserving continued research.

Guest speakers include:

• Linda Weintraub, artist and author who lectures frequently on contemporary art and its intersection with ecology.

• Katie McGinty, secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources.

• Harvey Rubin, Penn School of Medicine, director, Penn’s Institute for Strategic Threat Analysis and Response (ISTAR).

• Robin Wiessmann, treasurer, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

• Nikki Roy, Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

• Amy Gutmann, Penn president and the first Ivy League president to sign the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, pledging to develop a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality by 2009.

Panel discussions will focus on:

• Integrating environmental concerns in business decision-making.

•Environmental performance measurement and reporting.

• Business and climate change, including mitigation, adaptation, new law and costs.

• Carbon markets and low-carbon alternatives.

Members of the IGEL corporate advisory board thus far include BASF, Exelon, GE, Goldman Sachs, Interface, International Paper, Merck, Rohm & Haas, United Water Suez and Xerox.
Seed funding was provided by a Global Initiatives Fund grant from the offices of the President and Provost at Penn, while ongoing activities are being funded by the corporate advisory board, with in-kind support from the University schools involved.

Members of the Penn community interested in attending a session may contact Elaine Wright at elwright@sas.upenn.edu.




Almanac - April 8, 2008, Volume 54, No. 28