August 22, 2016
What would it take to promote human prosperity and well-being for all, while protecting and enhancing the Earth’s life support systems? Hundreds of community members and leaders gathered at the second biennial Big Ideas on the Big Island Conversations to tackle this question by shining a light on the role of culture, values, and business in creating a sustainable future. Hosted at the Hualālai Resort in March 2016, this two-day event showcased two inspiring and engaging panel discussions entitled “Values, Sustainability, and Solutions” and “Business, Sustainability, and the Bottom Line.”
Chris Boone, Dean of the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University (ASU), kicked off the first day with the panel on “Values, Sustainability, and Solutions.” Four panelists explored how diverse cultures and values can be useful for designing strategies for sustainability.
Greg Chun from the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa specializes in mediating difficult conversations especially when culture and traditions clash with development and change. Chun believes “the sustainability challenge before us is really more an issue of values than it is about science and technology.”
Bryan Brayboy, Special Advisor to the ASU President on American Indian Affairs and Director of the ASU Center for Indian Education, shared the importance of integrating indigenous knowledge, culture, and values with other discourses. “We can elevate the sustainability of indigenous populations around the world by embracing the intersection of culture, societal norms, and new discoveries,” Brayboy said. Higher education provides opportunities for life-long learners to promote prosperity for all while remaining grounded in cultural traditions.
Miki Tomita, Director of the Learning Center for the Polynesian Voyaging Society, described the significance of the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, which seeks to engage communities worldwide on practicing how to live sustainably, while sharing Polynesian culture. By learning from the past and each other and creating global relationships, we can inspire action to care for Island Earth and discover wonders if Island Earth.
Prasad Boradkar, Co-Director of the Biomimicry Center at ASU, where students in design, business, engineering and sustainability partner with corporations to develop biologically inspired product concepts that benefit society and minimize environmental impacts. Boradkar stated that biomimicry embraces the Hawaiian concept of Aloha 'Āina, which means love of the land.
Following on the heels of an inspiring first session, Gary Dirks, Director of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, kicked of the second day by leading a panel discussion on “Business, Sustainability, and the Bottom Line.” Representatives from the private sector discussed their views on how business engages, innovates, invests, trains, and develops towards a prosperous future.
Bruno Sarda, former Director of Social Responsibility at Dell Inc., shared resourceful solutions for improving sustainability throughout Dell’s supply chain. Dell partners with organizations around the world to identify materials that can be repurposed for technology components. Since 2015, Dell has partnered with supplier SABIC to incorporate recycled carbon fiber in their products with the goal of removing 820,000 pounds of it from the landfill.
Sheila Bonini, Executive Director of The Sustainability Consortium, took the audience further up the supply chain and described efforts to trace the sustainability of thousands of consumer goods.
Jacqui Hoover, Executive Director of the Hawaiʻi Island Economic Development Board, discussed the role of public-private partnerships and community involvement in advancing sustainability.
Jin Yong-Cai, former President of the International Finance Corporation, discussed the importance of finance in making or breaking alternative energy decisions.
At the conclusion of both panel discussions, members of the audience showed their support with a series of standing ovations. We hope that participants share this message and do their part so our collective action can lead to prosperity for our planet and our people.
About the Big Ideas on the Big Island Conversations
Fostered by Co-Chairs Julie Ann Wrigley, Jacquie Dorrance, Bennett Dorrance, Jr., and John DeFries, the Big Ideas on the Big Island Conversations is a collaborative opportunity for people from all walks of life to work together on new solutions to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future. Following the inaugural event in 2014, the Big Ideas network in Hawaiʻi has expanded to over 300 partners, stakeholders, and friends who are committed to advancing sustainability in Hawaiʻi and across the globe. Check out the Hawaiʻi Sizzle Reel for more information.