Program Overview

Through an innovative program of collaboration and information, Sustainable Brands ’16 San Diego provided inspiration, tools, and partnerships to drive business success and positive impact. Attendees had access to plenaries, breakouts, workshops, the Activation Hub, the Innovation Open, and numerous networking events where they discovered how brands and business leaders are Activating Purpose with sustainability-led innovation to create scalable impact AND profitability.



An avalanche of trends and market drivers that set the tone.

Featured Plenaries Include:

Alex Thompson, Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs at REI, will walk us through the conception, execution and remarkable success of REI’s #OptOutside program. Designed to be explicitly disruptive and…

shareable, #OptOutside was more than just a media or social media campaign — it was far deeper than that, a strategic business decision in favor of ‘doing’ over simply ‘talking’ through brand communications.

Janine Benyus, Founder of Biomimicry 3.8, will share decades’ worth of pioneering biomimicry research and explain what nature can teach executives about effective, purpose-driven leadership and design.

No one has been able to capture, document and ‘translate’ the 3.8 billion years of experience nature carries quite like Janine, whose seminal book and thought leadership on the subject has spurred a wealth of remarkable practical biomimicry-inspired innovation.

John Izzo, the bestselling author of Awakening Corporate Soul and Values Shift, will explore worldwide efforts by faith-based communities to drive sustainable business practices, as well as opportunities for…

brands to respond effectively and capture new markets. Shaped as friendly or fierce advocacy coming from the Pope’s assertive stand on climate change and the excesses of capitalism, growing green evangelical movements, and the International Islamic Climate Change Symposium, among others, faith-based action is a strong force that is sure to strengthen its influence over consumer attitudes and behavior globally.

Sean Ansett, Chief Sustainability Officer at Fairphone, will present the multiple-award-winning story of Fairphone – a rapidly-evolving case of breakthrough innovation with the entire value chain of electronics in mind.

Conceived as a brand that stands for a business and a movement at the same time, Fairphone is an example of a new generation of ambitious and decisive purpose-driven business leadership that disrupts and delights at scale, across entire ecosystems of economic agents.


Dynamic sessions to help you analyze specific business issues.

Featured Breakouts Include:

Jonathan Atwood, Vice President of Sustainable Living & Corporate Communications at Unilever, will share Unilever’s active involvement in the process of shaping the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Furthermore, Jonathan will also lead a discussion on connecting brands with the SDGs and respective tactics for stepping up transformational change advocacy and cross-sector partnerships – a must-attend open conversation for any brand with serious intentions of contributing to the SDGs.

Sophia Mendelsohn, Head of Sustainability at JetBlue Airways, will participate in an unusual but much-needed conversation that rarely happens publicly in corporate sustainability circles — a conversation on confessing and…

even celebrating failures as part of purpose-driven innovation. Very often failure shows what systemic problems still need solutions, and this session will draw out similarities in challenges from a variety of industries and company sizes. Plus, as Sophia wisely notes, why let Silicon Valley keep all the failure?

Robert Suarez, Managing Director of Innovation and Design at Singularity University, will present strategies and tools for exponentials based on both current and projected future trends. Exponential technologies such as…

artificial intelligence, robotics, synthetic biology and digital fabrication, to name a few, can enable the creation of sustainable solutions to difficult challenges related to education, energy, environment, food, global health, poverty, security, space and water. When designing for exponentially growing technologies, a few key elements and practices can help increase the potential for success.

Roman Smith, Director of Sustainability Operations, Corporate Sustainability & Philanthropy at AT&T, will reveal details around the brand’s ambitious new goal of reducing carbon in the use phase of AT&T products by 10 times the company’s…

carbon footprint. To reach this bold net positive goal, AT&T is engaging in conceiving and launching an array of purpose-driven products and services, starting with connected wi-fi-enabled cars and automated homes.


Half day, deep dive studios to help you turn ideas into action.

Featured Workshops Include:

Ricardo Caceres, Global Marketing Director for Sustainability at Coca-Cola, will host a workshop on embedding purpose and sustainability priorities within marketing and brand innovation teams within one of the world’s most…

influential brands. A big part of Ricardo’s role within Coca-Cola is to serve a ‘bridge’ between sustainability and marketing teams, helping the former educate and equip the latter to activate purpose optimally.

Betsy Henning, CEO & Founder of AHA!, will guide the audience through an analysis of how and why a sustainability story spreads, or doesn’t. Recognizing that language can unite or divide us, that messages can spread like a virus,…

or not, this workshop will explore the “landscape” of language — including verbal, visual, oral, and interactive — to show how unique communication can create competitive advantage and teach attendees to looks for signs of effective, or ineffective, sustainability communication.

Sheila Bonini, CEO of The Sustainability Consortium, will lead a session distilling multiple years of rigorous analysis and tool-building by The Sustainable Consortium. Sheila and her team will cover cutting-edge practices…

in consumer product supply chain sustainability, including measuring progress on key issues and building internal capacity that leads to product sustainability as an integral part of business strategy and drives new partnerships. Attendees will learn how to use specific metrics to enable action and inform decision-making across organizations and supply chains. Dedicated exercises will provide hands-on experience collecting data across the supply chain and, through real-world scenarios, practice applying the data to internal purchasing, procurement, and prioritization decisions.

Renee Lertzman, Psychosocial Researcher, Engagement Advisor and Author of, Environmental Melancholia: Psychoanalytic Dimensions of Engagement, will share her expertise on amplifying authentic engagement…

with soul, courage and vulnerability. Renee will ground attendees in foundations based on the Quadrants of Engagement and the Three As — Anxiety, Aspiration, and Ambivalence — in relation to how we experience sustainability and behavior changes. This workshop will also feature an interactive component that helps attendees engage with the material experientially, through crafting practical engagement strategies and messaging.


An interactive marketplace where companies collaborate and find partners and solutions they need to address sustainability/CSR challenges.

Shaping the Future of Commerce Worldwide

The Activation Hub enabled productive commercial partnerships between companies and organizations who share the commitment to creating a vibrant and sustainable economy of the future. It functioned as a thriving marketplace for attending brands to take the ideas and inspiration from the conference programming, and find the partners and solutions that to help them transform their innovative ideas into a reality and address pressing challenges. This action-centered environment held the conversations, collaborators and tools necessary to bring good ideas – and brand success – to life.

Featuring discussions and solution providers around top issues, such as:

  • How do we build smarter homes and cities?
  • How do we better manage supply chains?
  • How do we develop superior materials and products?
  • How do we turn the vision of a circular economy into reality?
  • How do we measure, analyze and report sustainability impacts?
  • How do we partner with NGOs to deliver brand-aligned positive change?
  • How do we set up sustainable workplaces?

And more!



The brightest social and environmental entrepreneurs challenging the status quo of business.

Startup Competition

The SB Innovation Open hosted by Target is in its 5th year to help catalyze the progress and impact of the next generation of better brands featuring the startups who, if given the right support and exposure, can contribute to an economically, socially and environmentally flourishing future.

Our 11 semi-finalists benefited from a week of introductions to influential brands, minds, experts and designers at the SB’16 San Diego event, with finalists taking the main stage & presenting to the entire SB community in attendance and globally via livestream.

Entry Deadline: March 25th, 2016.

The Prizes

  • An All Event conference pass + Activation Hub Staff pass to SB’16 San Diego
  • Activation Hub exhibition space for 4 days in the Activation Hub
  • $1,000 Target Gift Card
  • 3-hour consultation session from Target’s sustainability, merchandising, marketing, and strategy & innovation teams to strengthen the winner’s business case/model.
  • SB Golden Ticket to all SB events for 3 years
  • $10,000 total charitable donation by Target on behalf of the winner to up to two charities selected by the winner. Note: Please see charitable eligibility restrictions below on SBIO event page


Learn more about SB Innovation Open


Networking events designed to connect you with the right partners.

Network with Brand Innovators

This is where the connections are truly made. Relax and enjoy a fireside chat as you catch up with old friends and acquaintances. Connect with peers around a topic of shared interest while you sit down for an engaging conversation at one of the many ‘Birds of a Feather’ dinners. From the moment you arrive on the island, to the minute you leave; take advantage of the non-stop line up of networking opportunities. Come ready to connect while having some fun!


  • Opening Night Plenary
  • Welcome Reception
  • Connect Suite Events
  • Activation Hub Activities
  • SB Beach BBQ & Concert
  • Fireside chats on the beach
  • Birds of a Feather Dinners and Meet-ups
  • and much more TBA…


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