BSR has a reputation for executing a professionally run, interesting, and content-rich event every year. Our annual Conference draws more than 1,000 participants from a wide range of leading global companies and NGOs.  As we head into this year’s event, we anticipate that the experience will be a terrific kick off to BSR’s 20th anniversary year.  On the first day, we’re joined on the plenary stage by Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Preventative Medicine Research Institute Founder and President Dr. Dean Ornish, and Women’s World Banking President and CEO Mary Ellen Iskenderian—whose collective expertise exemplifies the diversity of urgent sustainability issues on the table for discussion: climate change, business innovation, embedding sustainability into mainstream financial markets, the health and wellness of our growing populace, and women’s empowerment through financial inclusion and literacy.

We’ll also hear from four other leading CEOs who are redefining leadership today–some who may be familiar and some who will bring a radically new perspective to the corporate responsibility conversation. 

Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Carlos Brito, who first led InBev’s successful, transformative merger with Anheuser-Busch in 2008, will talk about the company’s “Better World” sustainability plan focused on responsible drinking, the environment, and communities. Autodesk President and CEO Carl Bass will speak about driving his company’s growth and fulfilling its mission to make sustainable design easy and accessible to millions of architects, designers, and engineers worldwide. Brian Dunn, Best Buy’s CEO, started working for the company in 1985 as a sales associate when the company operated just a dozen stores. Now, Dunn manages the US$50-billion-a-year retail giant, promoting an internal culture that supports engaged  and inspired employees—the most important  element of Best Buy’s sustainability strategy. A new voice to the stage will be Ofra Strauss, the compelling and fascinating chairperson of the Strauss Group, Israels second largest food and beverage company that also operates in Brazil, North America, the U.K., and China, and is dedicated to sustainable growth. Strauss has ranked on Fortunes List of the Most Powerful Women in Global Business for several years.   

And of course these plenary speakers are just the start of what will be a series of provocative discussions, complemented by 40 breakout sessions—which include, among others, conversations on conflict minerals, Rio+20, accessibility in the Arctic, sustainable consumerism, the future of fuels, the Arab Spring, rebuilding Japan, human trafficking, hyper-transparency, and the emerging “share economy.”

For those of you who have been making the rounds with us for years, we invite you to participate, provoke, and persist as we continue to explore the most pressing sustainability challenges of our time. 

For those of you who are new to the field of corporate responsibility, you should know that our Conference is not passive. We encourage active learning, and you are also encouraged to engage, ask questions, and poke holes. This event is not for the timid, and it is made better through the continued involvement of those with new perspectives, fresh ideas, and challenging questions.  We look forward to engaging next week and welcoming all of you to the great city of San Francisco.