The idea for “Climate Week,” a weeklong series of events aimed at fostering and furthering awareness of climate change, came together in large part thanks to a chance encounter on the Harvard Business School campus between former Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Business and Environment Initiative (BEI) director Melissa Paschall.
“After bumping into him outside the Spangler Campus Center, I asked President Calderón what HBS could be doing to further the issue of climate change that it wasn’t already,” Paschall said. “And his answer was so simple: Organize a week of events across Harvard.”
Paschall brought the idea to the faculty leaders of the BEI, Professors Rebecca Henderson and Forest Reinhardt, and with the guidance and assistance of the Harvard University Center for the Environment, made “Climate Week” into a reality, taking place this year from April 6th to 10th.
The week’s lineup is available on the HUCE website and includes several BEI-sponsored talks, including a discussion on Friday, April 10, at 1:30 p.m. in Spangler Auditorium with Unilever CEO Paul Polman, which Henderson will moderate. The discussion will focus on Unilever’s ambitious vision to double its size while reducing its overall environmental footprint and increasing its positive social impact. In addition, Polman will give his views on the role of business leaders in addressing climate change.
Harvard University president Drew Faust will help conclude the series of presentations by introducing a panel on Monday, April 13, at 4 p.m. in Sanders Theater on how society in general, and universities in particular, can confront the issue. It will be moderated by journalist Charlie Rose of CBS and PBS and feature experts from the fields of science, government, economics, business, and history.
“Focusing all the events into this week has enabled us to have maximum impact and helped attract very high-profile speakers,” Paschall said. “And that’s important, given how large the challenge of mitigating climate change really is.”
Students are hosting their own related events as well. Representatives from each of the ten first-year HBS sections, for example, are leading discussions about climate during the week, tailoring the conversation to their individual section’s culture.