The United Nations Environment Programme named Kevin Conrad ’05 and Ron Gonen ’05 among its seven “Champions of the Earth” for 2009. According to UNEP, the award “recognizes individuals and organizations that have exemplified inspiration, vision, innovation, leadership and action for the environment.”
Conrad, previously named a “Hero of the Environment” by CNN and Time magazine, was nominated for his work with the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, which aims to seeks recognition for the role that rainforests play in reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and stabilizing global climates.
Gonen, named Technology Pioneer 2009 by the Davos-based World Economic Forum, was nominated for his work with RecycleBank, a for-profit company that is attempting to solve one of the world’s most intractable environmental problems: disposing of the growing volume of municipal solid waste.
Both organizations were launched with financial support from Columbia Business School through the Eugene Lang Center for Entrepreneurship.
Conrad and Gonen developed their business plans while working with Geoffrey Heal, the Paul Garrett Professor of Public Policy and Business Responsibility, a past president of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists and author of several books on how businesses can contribute to a more sustainable world.
“It’s really heartening,” says Heal, “to see these ideas being applied so effectively, and to show the world that business training is not just about making money on Wall Street but can really contribute to a better world.”
Videos of Conrad’s and Gonen’s acceptance speeches can be viewed on the UNEP Web site.