Business leaders, entrepreneurs, and scientists from across the country will converge this spring on Western North Carolina at a new conference focused on the business challenges and opportunities posed by climate change.
ClimateCon 2018 is a project of The Collider, a nonprofit innovation center in Asheville, N.C., focused on catalyzing the development of climate solutions. Held March 16-25, the conference includes a business forum, a summit for students and young professionals, an innovation showcase demonstrating climate solutions and products, and 10 days of climate-focused community events.
“We are convening climate, business, and government thought leaders at ClimateCon to share expertise and ideas that will move the needle on the development of data-driven climate solutions,” said Collider Executive Director Megan Robinson. “This conference is an important opportunity for forward-thinking leaders to interact directly with innovators. Collectively we can address the products, services, and information needed for better business decision-making in the face of climate change.”
The centerpiece of ClimateCon 2018 is The Business of Climate Forum, March 19-21, with moderated sessions on using data to build corporate and community resiliency, financing for climate resilience, climate-conscious marketing and branding, and optimizing business for changing climate, among other topics.
Keynote presenters include Hewlett Packard IT Efficiency and Sustainability Director John Frey; Aspen Skiing Company’s Vice President of Sustainability, Auden Schendler; and Interface Inc.’s Vice President of Sustainability, Erin Meezan, with other confirmed speakers that include:
- David Behar, climate program director of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
- Lara Dickinson, co-founder of The Climate Collaborative, a nonprofit that leverages the power of the natural products industry to reverse climate change
- Katharine Jacobs, director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions at the University of Arizona
- Greg Lowe, global head of resilience and sustainability for Aon, a data analytics firm based in London, UK
- Duane Peterson, co-president and founder of SunCommon, a solar power systems provider in Vermont and New York State
- Paul Walsh, director, weather strategy, IBM Global Business Services/The Weather Company
- Katharine Wilkinson, senior writer for Project Drawdown, international nonprofit coordinating efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
For undergraduate students and young professionals who want to participate in ClimateCon, there will be The Summit for Emerging Climate Leaders, an event on March 19 where attendees can explore careers in climate and pitch their best climate solution to a panel of experts in climate and entrepreneurship.
On the days before and after the business forum and student summit – a full 10-day period – an array of supporting events for ClimateCon 2018 will be held throughout Asheville under the theme of “Welcome to Climate City.” Asheville’s new, unofficial nickname is a result of the growing profiles of several climate science agencies, including NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, whose staff manages the world’s largest collection of climate, weather, and environmental data; the N.C. Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites; and UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center.
“Asheville is the logical location for this conference, thanks to the innovative work going on here in the emerging field of climate solutions,” said Leah Donatelli, The Collider’s event manager and conference project manager. “But there are plenty of other good reasons to visit, and we’re expecting ClimateCon will provide attendees with a unique and immersive combination of science, business, and the vibrancy of iconic Asheville.”
Among the partnering businesses for the conference are several of Asheville’s renowned breweries and restaurants, along with the eclectic galleries and other attractions that have helped put the city on many top tourist destination lists in recent years, including Lonely Planet (No. 1 Best in the U.S. Destination for 2017) and Esquire (The 17 Best Places to Travel in 2017).