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Posted at 4:12 PM ET, 01/23/2011

What I hope for from Davos

By Hannah Jones

The imperative for designing a new reality has never been clearer. Put simply we will need to decouple consumption from scarce natural resources in order to help reboot the economy and put the breaks on climate change.

At Nike we believe that creating more sustainable business models, transforming our products to become closed loop and our supply chain to be lean, green and equitable, will enable us to thrive and win in a future sustainable economy. Our work done on this front is already paying dividends through risk abatement, efficiencies and competitive differentiation in sustainable design and innovation.

At Davos, we work with a group of other progressive companies who are innovating with the same urgency and determination. For the past three years we have grappled with the issues of reducing or eliminating the use of water, decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels and how to turn waste into renewable material. It’s given birth to the GreenXchange, an online network to share green innovation, and to three key reports issued by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte & Touche.

But one word continues to challenge us as we map our journey from here to there – scale. Without scale this work will, at best, produce shiny examples, at worst we will only take incremental steps.

We live in an intertwined, complex mesh of industries, regulation, marketplaces and communities. For the type of scale the world needs to see, we need not only the early business leaders to be doing what they do best – investing in innovation and shaping market forces – we need government to play a crucial role in enabling policies, legislation and regulation that will encourage the scaling of transformative change.

Right now we need policy innovations and public-private partnerships that will enable a rapid, scalable transition to a green economy. We need co-investments in R&D to fast track technical innovation; we would benefit from government procurement strategies that create certainty and demand for green products; trade policies with sustainability-based incentives; innovative loan and financing mechanisms for manufacturers which would help transition supply chains to become greener and leaner; take back legislation that would help accelerate recycling and recovery infrastructure which in turn would create jobs. These are just some of the policy innovations that could help propel us collectively toward scale and a sustainable economy.

So I go to Davos, as chair of the Consumer Groups “Sustainable Consumption Initiative”, to sit with policy makers and talk about how we build a place of trust and dialogue that will spur policy innovation.

With other companies and under the auspices of the World Economic Forum, we will propose creating a platform where innovative policy makers and committed businesses can meet to talk of what is possible when it comes to scale, collaboration and innovation.

Wish us luck.

Hannah Jones is Vice President of Sustainable Business and Innovation at Nike.

By Hannah Jones  | January 23, 2011; 4:12 PM ET
Categories:  Hannah Jones  
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