A few years ago, BSR celebrated its 25th anniversary with our members at an unforgettable convening on the shore in Huntington Beach, California. The connection with a like-minded community and rich conversations about the issues we all care about is what I remember most.
As we launch registration today for an entirely reimagined BSR Conference 2020, I feel a sense of relief. Relief because these connections and conversations will still happen, but in new, virtual formats that allow us to be even more inclusive and global than ever. As the world faces profound changes, and as we plow through year one of the decisive decade, it’s especially important to come together, get inspired, and understand the near-term actions we can take to drive the systemic change we seek, even as our daily lives have become so significantly disrupted.
The theme for BSR20 is “Meet the Moment. Build the Future.” This speaks to the urgent need to address the unprecedented economic and public health challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the systemic barriers to inclusion and racial justice faced by so many, and the urgent need and opportunity to address climate change. Our virtual event, which will take place October 20-23, will be staggered across time zones so that our global staff and participants can connect in brand new ways, with panelists from around the world and content generated by our offices in Asia, North America, and Europe and our broader global network.
We are already pleased to welcome Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, a US$13 billion international social justice philanthropy, and Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation—two outstanding voices on the topic of redesigning the social contract to advance inclusive, long-term value creation for all stakeholders. Our Conference team is busy securing additional, exceptional plenary speakers—stay tuned for updates.
As you’ve come to expect from BSR’s annual Conferences, our plenaries, breakout sessions, and virtual networking opportunities are all designed to bolster our collective efforts to take action on the issues that matter most to you. We will highlight numerous examples of the ways that companies and other stakeholders have shifted into high gear so that these efforts can be strengthened and taken to scale.
2020 has shown that companies, investors, and stakeholders remain firmly committed to sustainability; indeed, there is evidence that it is being prioritized in the midst of this great change and turmoil. Based on a recent survey conducted by Globescan and BSR, four in ten respondents (40 percent) say that the crisis will increase both the relevance and expectations for sustainable business. Moreover, over a third (36 percent) say that the agenda for sustainable business will change as existing priorities increase in prominence and new issues arise. It is equally clear that our agenda must shift to address new issues, new needs, and new contexts. 2020 has accelerated underlying changes reshaping business, recast existing issues in a new light, and delivered new issues that will define our era.
At BSR20, we will explore a wide range of subjects including:
- Mainstreaming racial justice and inclusive growth in ESG standards and investing
- Affirming the business voice in times of turmoil
- China in the decisive decade
- Zero-emissions transportation
- Surveillance capitalism
- The future of the sustainability function/CSO
- Activism in the decisive decade
This Conference is for you, our BSR members, partners, and community who engage with us on a daily basis. Please take advantage of early registration benefits (and reduced rates for BSR members and other audiences) and keep us posted with your suggestions and comments.
The virtual format means that the Conference will be accessible to so many more participants from around the world than ever before. We know that it will be a meaningful opportunity to take thinking and insights to the next level. Even as the monumental events of 2020 focus our attention on the here and now, we are also keeping our eyes on the need to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. This first year of the decisive decade has been epically challenging; we hope that it can also be a springboard to the galvanized action needed to build the resilient and just future we all strive for.