Equitable Origin's Director of Communications Josh Garrett was at Harvard Business School (HBS) last weekend to attend the 2014 Energy Symposium. The symposium, organized by the HBS Energy and Environment Club, is an annual event that brings together leaders in technology, academia, business, investing, and corporate responsibility to discuss the latest trends in the energy world and how to move forward responsibly in a world of growing energy demand.
The theme of this year's symposium was "Finding Balance in the Shifting Landscape of Energy." The theme encompassed many different meanings of "balance": between energy development and environmental conservation, between fossil fuels and renewable energy sources, between profit and corporate responsibility, and others. Each speech and panel discussion at the Symposium touched on one or more of the meanings of balance within the energy sector.
Garrett was one of four panelists for the breakout discussion of Sustainability and Corporate Decision Making, where he introduced the Equitable Origin system of stakeholder-based standards as a tool for improving corporate responsibility and sustainability in oil and gas development. He emphasized the value of the EO system to oil and gas companies as a means of reducing operational risk through establishment of a framework for engagement with local stakeholders. This framework, he explained, provides common language and allows for setting of clear expectations among stakeholders for how development projects will be carried out, what steps developers will take to minimize negative impacts on people and nature, and how the benefits of development will be shared with the community. The other panelists, representing Chevron, the World Bank, and the energy think tank Rocky Mountain Institute, spoke about how their respective institutions defined and pursued corporate sustainability.
A key point of consensus that arose from the panel discussion and question and answer session that followed were that collaboration by companies, NGOs, governments, communities, and standard-setting organizations like EO is essential to successful corporate sustainability and responsibility efforts. Such collaboration allows for the combination of technical, environmental, and social knowledge and expertise into concrete steps that produce better social and environmental outcomes for energy development projects.