Program Overview

Sustainability, once a buzzword, is now a business imperative. Few companies or investors need persuading that, on matters of the environment, they must act — ideally to minimize risk and maximize profit. But what, exactly, to do? The inaugural FORTUNE Global Sustainability Forum—set in the heart of the country that matters most in the push for environmental solutions, China—provides an extended chance for executives, investors, and innovators to explore how shareholder, consumer, and regulatory expectations on sustainability are shifting, how companies and countries are responding, and how, in their own sectors, they can pivot and pounce.

The forum will dissect key trends now converging to make sustainability core to business strategy. Among them:

• An emerging consensus that climate change is not just a threat for tomorrow but is having destructive effects here and now;
• An awakening of global capital to climate change as a strategic risk, prompting institutional investors, sovereign-wealth funds, and other large investors to begin shifting money – and prompting market regulators, notably in China, to push for corporate disclosure of carbon risk;
• Plummeting costs for renewable energy, making it increasingly economically competitive in many parts of the world;
• Still-robust coal use, particularly in China and other developing countries, with major implications for global energy markets and the climate;
• Intensifying trade tensions between the West and China, amid slowing economic growth and often with clean-energy equipment at the center of the fight;
• Massive foreign-infrastructure spending by China, particularly through the country’s Belt and Road Initiative, with major geopolitical and environmental stakes;
• A flowering of technological innovation, in environmentally relevant areas from artificial intelligence to low-carbon energy to water to agriculture.

China, the world’s most-populous nation and biggest carbon emitter, also is the biggest producer of — and market for — a vast array of sustainability-focused goods and services. From equipment to fight pollution, to energy from the wind and sun, to financial structures designed to green capital, China is where the global shift toward sustainability will be shaped. How that shift plays out will have profound consequences for every other nation.

The setting for the FORTUNE Global Sustainability Forum is Yunnan, a province in central China that is as beautiful as it is important. This Forum will be held in a world-class hotel situated on the shores of one of China’s most spectacular lakes. Yunnan also is a crucial launching point for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, oriented to Southeast Asia and Eurasia.

Like all FORTUNE conferences, the FORTUNE Global Sustainability Forum will feature probing interviews, participatory breakout sessions, and extensive time for networking with top-level executives, investors, decision-makers and thinkers from around the world.

Discussion Topics
(list in formation)

New Power
Cost-competitive renewable energy is upending power markets and geopolitics. How big and cheap can it get? And how fast?

Green Belt?
China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a massive foreign-infrastructure-investment campaign, may have more impact on the climate than any other single economic program. How green is it?

Moving Money
Institutional investors are talking a lot about greening their investments in order to avoid climate risk? A look into one deep-pocketed investor’s strategy.

The Other Silicon Valley
Chinese innovation in low-carbon technologies is surging. What’s happening, who’s leading it, and what does it mean for the world?

Rethinking the Plastics Economy
Fresh thinking and decisive action is needed to overcome the environmental impact of plastic materials and packaging, including the redesign of materials and practices across the global value chain.

Cleaner Coal?
China burns more coal than any other country, and expectations are that, in China and globally, coal use will keep rising. Is cleaner coal in the pipeline or is it a pipe dream? A look inside one Chinese company’s attempt to perfect the technology.

AI and You
How artificial intelligence is rocking the green world.

Water World
A deep dive inside Yunnan Province’s push to clean up Fuxian Lake.