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CEO & CSR 2008


Cradle to Cradle is a phrase invented by Walter R. Stahel in the 1970s and has been popularised by U.S. architect William McDonough and German chemist Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart in their 2002 book entitled "Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things". In 1999 Time Magazine called Tokyo-born McDonough "Hero for the Planet".
The Cradle to Cradle concept shows that we do not have to choose between economical and ecological prosperity: economy and ecology go hand in hand. To achieve this, we need to design our products, processes, buildings, cities, etc. more intelligently. If we do this in accordance with the principles of Cradle to Cradle, production processes will be clean, ecosystems will be integrated in our buildings and cities, products may be completely disassembled into raw materials and consumers will no longer be polluters.
Cradle to Cradle is therefore not only a revolutionary ecological concept, but also (and even more so) a totally new business model. The first experiences with the concept within city developments and industry show that the concept is also very profitable.
A new industrial revolution
Cradle-to-Cradle products need to meet three requirements:

  1. The materials need to be absolutely safe for people, plants and animals;
  2. Materials need to be reusable as a biological nutrient or technical nutrient, without loss of quality;
  3. Products need to be designed in such a way that they can be easily disassembled for quick recovery and reuse of components and materials.

An increasing number of multinationals around the world have started working with the Cradle to Cradle concept and have drawn surprising conclusions. Ford Motor Company, Nike, Volkswagen, Akzo Noble, Herman Miller and The Gap are just some of the leading multinational corporations that have enthusiastically embraced and are currently implementing the Cradle to Cradle concept into their operations and business strategy.
McDonough and Braungart work with major companies with over half a trillion dollars in annual sales. From their experience it is apparent that products that are disassembled easily are assembled even faster. As a result production processes become simpler, cost less energy and all in all are less costly.
Entire countries and economies are being transformed by the Cradle to Cradle concept. The massive Dutch Floriade expo in 2012, for example, will completely go Cradle to Cradle, while The Netherlands has a vision of becoming the world's first Cradle-to-Cradle economy!
"We need to do Cradle-to-Cradle Research.
It's about Marketing, it's about Financing, it's about Management"

Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart

A new revolution in architecture
In architecture and in city planning Cradle to Cradle integrates the basics of design as may be found in natural ecosystems. When starting to design structures and buildings the value of natural materials, natural energy sources and ecosystems are used.
Buildings are designed in a way that they fulfil the same function as trees do in nature. These buildings therefore produce oxygen, sequester carbon (CO2), fix nitrogen, distil water, purify the air and filter particles, change with the season, create micro climates, and accrue solar energy as fuel, build soil, and provide habitats for thousand of species, apart from being beautiful.
Taking into account the enormous problems resulting from excess CO2 in our atmosphere, building along the lines of Cradle to Cradle is a great opportunity, in helping to solve these problems.
Buildings are designed with respect for the people living in them and with respect for the environment. Use of daylight is favoured over the use of artificial light, which is excluded where possible. Natural air circulation replaces air conditioning. All these requirements save energy and stimulate health. The materials and buildings are safe for people and animals, and are reusable.
So imagine an industrial system that:

  • Purifies air, water, and soil;
  • Retains valuable materials for perpetual, productive reuse;
  • Requires no regulation;
  • Celebrates an abundance of cultural and biological diversity;
  • Enhances nature's capacity to thrive;
  • Grows health, wealth, and useful resources;
  • Generates value and opportunity for all.

Such a system, modelled on the natural world's abundance, can solve rather than just manage the problems industry currently creates, allowing both business and nature to thrive and grow.

"When we follow nature's rules, growth is good. The question before us is not growth versus no growth, it is: what would good growth look like? "

William McDonough

We need to think "out of the box": top management needs to think of effectiveness and eco-efficiency, industry needs to learn from nature, while innovation needs to be seen as a challenge.

Eco-effectiveness: Following nature's design principles
By pursuing a vision of industry that does not damage ecosystems or social systems, Cradle to Cradle Design moves beyond the "less bad" aims of eco-efficiency. It proposes, instead, a new strategy called eco-effectiveness. By learning from nature's "design principles", eco-effective design conceives industrial systems that emulate the healthy abundance of nature.

Waste equals food
The processes of each organism engaged in a living system contribute to the health of the whole. One creature's "waste" is nourishment for another.

Use current solar income
Simply put, plants use sunlight to manufacture food-an elegant, effective system that uses the earth's one perpetual source of energy income.

Celebrate diversity
Natural systems thrive on diversity and complexity. Life burgeons with rich variety in response to evolving niches.

Other Themes

Green Finance
The ongoing debacle concerning climate change can be seen as a threat by some, but also as an opportunity by others. Many financial institutions subscribe to the latter view, and as a consequence have devised new products that make it easier for corporations to finance investments that contribute to the limitation of damage to the environment by their activities. In doing that, not only are they a significant force towards change, but they also reap the benefits of a better image and increased profitability.

Sustainable buildings
Buildings contribute 40% of atmosphere pollutants. That is just one reason in many for the industry to get serious about designing and constructing eco-friendly sustainable buildings, either for housing, or for industrial and office use.

Climate Change Solutions
The 2007 CEO & CSR Conference increased awareness about climate change. This year's Conference will focus on actually helping executives acquire the knowledge and will equip them toward the tools and insights to successfully embrace climate change solutions most appropriate for their corporate strategy and objectives.