Washington, DC, April 18, 2013 - Sustainability is not just a business management paradigm for Patrick Doherty, Director of Smart Strategy at the New America Foundation: It's the strategic lens that should shape how we build our communities, structure our tax code and prioritize investments.
Speaking at NAEM's Corporate Sustainability Management Conference in Washington, DC today, Mr. Doherty explained that the United States needs a new 'grand strategy' to poise the country for long-term growth.
"The domestic economy and the global economy that we designed for the purposes of defeating the Soviets during the Cold War is no longer appropriate for the new global project," he said. "The trick is taking down the old Cold War system and putting up a new system that prioritizes that. Capital plus demand--an incredible opportunity for the United States."
At the heart of the new grand strategy Mr. Doherty envisions are significant investments in walkable, transit-friendly communities. Doing so, he said, would have the systemic benefits of fueling economic prosperity and mitigating resource depletion, while meeting the demands of a rapidly expanding global middle class.
NAEM Executive Director Carol Singer Neuvelt said thinking about sustainability in grand strategy terms could help member companies identify new opportunities for innovation.
"The economy of the future will be defined by resource scarcity," she said. "By creating new processes that will dramatically lower the resource intensity of products, companies will be able to gain a competitive advantage."
Celia Spence, who leads sustainability efforts for Westinghouse Electric, said the scope of the conversation helped her think about her role in a new way.
"It was really very gratifying to hear that there's a conversation happening about what we do that extends beyond what we talk about every day," she said. "Hearing that we can be part of a transformation that is absolutely essential to our societal well-being is very heartening."