Reflections from the BSR Conference 2017 (And How to Review Highlights)

November 2, 2017
  • Katie Morris

    Former Manager, Communications and Marketing, BSR

It’s been one week since the sun set on our 25th anniversary celebration at the BSR Conference 2017 in Huntington Beach, California. Since our 2016 Conference, which took place right before the U.S. election last November, a lot has changed in the world: Political volatility has increased, nationalistic sentiments are on the rise, we’ve experienced increased economic and technological disruptions, and policy changes around the globe are reshaping the path forward for business.

At the same time, in the past year, hundreds of businesses and leaders from the private sector, NGOs, U.S. local and state governments, and civil society have stepped up on an unprecedented scale and raised their voices on issues ranging from climate action to diversity and inclusion.

Last week at BSR17, we convened our member network and community to discuss how business can continue this momentum on sustainability leadership. Inspiration, positivity, and action-planning set the tone throughout our three days in Huntington Beach—in between sunrise yoga and al fresco meal functions, participants gathered to hear from changemakers on the plenary stage: Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore encouraged businesses to continue to take climate action, Microsoft’s Brad Smith described the company’s experience raising its voice on political issues and bridging the digital divide, and Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards urged companies to support women’s empowerment and health, specifically by committing to provide birth control regardless of regulatory changes in the U.S.

Breakout sessions on topics like engaging on public policy in uncertain times, futures thinking, and harnessing technologies for supply chain sustainability brought the brilliant minds of the BSR community together to discuss best practices and new ideas.

Here are five ways that you can re-live the highlights of our event—or catch the things you missed:

  1. Watch plenary session videos: Almost every plenary session is now live on our YouTube channel, from Richards’ standing-ovation-receiving speech, to Morgan Stanley’s Audrey Choi’s presentation on inclusive growth, to a panel on how corporations can help solve the global refugee crisis, to National Geographic Photographer Annie Griffiths’ inspiring talk on the power of photography as a tool for telling stories and creating empathy.
  2. See the social media highlights: Follow @BSRnews@BSRherproject, and BSR staff on Twitter, and see what you missed on the #BSR17 hashtag. You will also find photo highlights on our Instagram accounts, @bsrorg and @herprojectbsr.
  3. Find yourself in photos: We’ve uploaded photos from the week onto our Flickr account—head on over to see whether we captured you, or your favorite moment, in our BSR Conference album.
  4. Share your thoughts: If you were with us in Huntington Beach, please take a moment to complete the Conference survey (available in the mobile app under “Surveys”). If you weren’t there, you can always tweet at us or email us your perspective.
  5. Read our new insights: We launched several new publications last week, including our new report on The Future of Sustainable Business. And we published blog posts about a new UN Foundation report on how business can support women’s health and empowerment and Morgan Stanley’s new framework on embedding inclusive growth. Our new Climate Policy Tracker tool with We Mean Business is also now live.

Thank you for participating in our 25th anniversary event, whether you were stage-side in the ballroom with us or tuning in via Twitter and the livestream. You make our community strong, and the BSR Conference wouldn’t be as enlivening and inspiring without you—as Levi Strauss & Co. Vice President of Sustainability Michael Kobori proclaimed on stage during our BSR Alumni panel, “The BSR Conference has converted me from an optimistic pessimist to an optimistic optimist.”

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for November 6-8, 2018, when we head back to the East Coast for the BSR Conference 2018 in New York. We hope to see you next year!

Let’s talk about how BSR can help you to transform your business and achieve your sustainability goals.

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