For the past six years the people at Fortune Magazine have held an annual conference called the Brainstorm Green Conference. It’s a conference dedicated to the topic of eco-business and sustainability. As you might suspect, it’s a topic that has changed a lot over the past few years and 2013 had some good surprises.

Fortune Brainstorm Green Attendees

The first interesting highlight of this year’s conference were the attendees. In addition to Harrison Ford being in attendance, there were many other influential CEOs and celebrities. The list includes the chief sustainability officer from Ikea, CEOs from Panasonic and NRG, as well as the Chief Sustainability Officer from Coca Cola and the inventor of the iPod. Musician and sustainability crusader will.i.am was also in attendance. Author and runner Scott Jurek, the author of Eat & Run, led a discussion about how he wins ultra-marathons as a vegan dieter.

Beyond the celebrities it’s important to note that the event attracted more CEOs than in the past and more women attended this year.

Topics of Discussion – Beyond Sustainability and Eco Business

The topics ranged from how poverty and collapsed economies threaten national security and even the evolution of today’s Somali Pirates, to how companies are building a strong meat alternative industry. Meat and animal products are one of the primary contributors to environmental pollution. By creating sustainable processes and meat alternatives, the condition of the planet can rapidly improve. Ethan Brown, founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, discussed how the $70 billion meat industry is losing 1% market share per year and how that’s impacting today’s economy and environment.

Sustainable Startups

The conference also provided an opportunity for eco-startups to pitch their business ideas to venture capitalists. The sustainable business ideas that were presented ranged broadly. One proposal included a system that takes plastic waste and converts it to usable oil.

Another proposal took center stage when they presented a waterproof and rechargeable personal massage device. Innovation often takes center stage at conferences because change is what drives the future. Sustainability innovators will not only make a significant difference in the future of our planet, there’s tremendous money to be made in the process.

Because innovation often comes from the younger generation and because they tend to be the innovators for the future, the conference attracts leaders from brands like Coca Cola and entertainers like will.i.am who have banded together to create a water-purifying module that can provide clean water in developing nations. This year’s conference was a huge success and it presents an opportunity for consumers and eco-businesses to get involved in future events.

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