Sold-out Suzuki lecture anchors sustainability conference

Published: 30 January 2008

Student initiative aims to raise awareness of what business can do for the environment

Renowned environmentalist and activist Dr. David Suzuki will deliver the keynote address during the fourth annual McGill Business Conference on Sustainability, organized by McGill University’s Management Undergraduate Society.

“The goal of the conference is to spark and nourish interest among students in the role that business plays in the environmental and social sphere,” said Sadaf Kashfi, conference co-chair, along with student Katy Wang, both students in McGill’s Desautels Faculty of Management. The theme of the conference, to be held Thursday, Jan. 31 to Monday, Feb. 4, is ‘Looking Backward to Move Forward.’

“The idea is to look at what’s been done in the past in the business world and to learn from what’s worked and what hasn’t to ensure a more sustainable future,” explained Kashfi. “We want to demonstrate how business can be more environmentally friendly while still remaining profitable.”

In keeping with the conference theme, Dr. Suzuki’s sold-out lecture will explore how evolution has given human beings the memory, curiosity and creativity to conceive and create our own future based on what we do in the present – and yet, he says, we have turned our backs on the very survival strategy that got us to where we are today. He will deliver his keynote address January 31, 6:30 to 8 p.m., at McGill’s Leacock auditorium, 855 Sherbrooke St. West.

In addition, organizers have planned three full days of workshops and seminars, including seminars with Hugh Hough, partner and president of Green Team USA, on green marketing; Tom Szaky, CEO of Terracyle, on creating a company that makes products using only waste; and Derrick Blay, managing director of Environmental Standards Inc. (ESI), on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEEDS) certification program and building green infrastructure.

The workshop leaders are James Gross, visiting professor from Cornell University, on labour policy and arbitration; McGill professor Louis Chauvin on ‘happiness and consumption’; Alain Ménard, co-founder of the Green Beaver Company, on the production of toxin-free cosmetics; Danny Lourenço, founder of retailer Rien à Cacher, on ethical clothing production; and Jeff Woodrow of the Joy Project, on socially conscious t-shirts that promote peace and equality.

About 150 student delegates are expected to attend the 2008 McGill Business Conference on Sustainability, which will be held at several venues in downtown Montreal, including McGill University and the Delta Hotel Montreal, 475 President Kennedy Ave. The full schedule and event locations are available online at

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