10 top ESG speakers you need to follow right now

Here are some top ESG experts

calendar icon
January 12, 2023
SDG & Sustainability

In 2013-2014, he was Planetary Futurist in Residence at the design and innovation firm IDEO. His 2012 book Carbon Zero: Imagining cities that can save the planet is an exploration of the kinds of design, technological and policy innovations that can transform our cities into low-carbon engines of prosperity.

Kate is a Senior Associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, where she teaches on the Masters in Environmental Change and Management. She is also Professor of Practice at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

Over the past years, ESG, sustainability, regenerative economics or whatever you prefer to call it, has evolved from a marketing-inspired corporate fairy tale (mostly greenwashing, actually) to a reality-driven (innovation) strategy. It is not just what a growing number of customers has come to expect, it has also become a necessity for those companies whose production and supply chain is being disrupted by droughts, heat, fires, floods and other anthropocene-like events.

But beyond the threats of climate change for business, there is also a huge opportunity for new business models, services, supply chain optimizations, etc. as solutions for our current troubles. And there is immense potential for reshaping our customer relations or even rethinking growth and shareholder value. And no better way to find some inspiration about this, than to follow these 10 top experts and speakers on the topic of the E(nvironment) part of ESG.

Paul Polman

Paul was CEO of Unilever for a decade where he demonstrated that a long-term, multi-stakeholder model goes hand-in-hand with good financial performance. During his tenure, Unilever was one of the best-performing companies in its sector, delivering ten years of consistent top and bottom line growth.

He is Co-founder and Chair of IMAGINE, a benefit corporation and foundation accelerating business leadership to achieve the Global Goals. He is also Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce, The B Team, Saïd Business School and The Valuable 500, and Vice-Chair of the UN Global Compact.

Paul was appointed to the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel that developed the Sustainable Development Goals and has played a leading role since in highlighting the business case for the 2030 development agenda, including as a founder member of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission. He remains a UN-appointed SDG Advocate.

Paul's LinkedIn

Jessica Groopman

Jessica is an industry analyst, current director of digital innovation at Intentional Futures, former founding partner of Kaleido Insights, and emerging technology advisor specializing in intersections of data, technologies, humans, and environment. She has written 50+ reports on AI, IoT, blockchain, and other tech applications for inclusive and sustainable business innovation and circular economics. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Jessica works with technology suppliers, industry adopters, trade associations, and start-ups developing research-informed customer and market strategies. She has been honored as a Top 100 Women in AI Ethics and Woman in Blockchain.

She often speaks about how digital is helping organizations build regenerative business models. As the world faces constant change, nature provides the template for resilience: regeneration. Regenerative business models wield the power of business and markets in service to people and planet, aligning profit models that give back and contribute value to their ecosystems rather than constantly extracting from it. Emerging technologies play a critical role in accelerating and scaling these models, far beyond "net zero".

Jessica's LinkedIn

Wayne Visser

Prof. Dr Wayne Visser is Professor of Integrated Value and Holder of the Chair in Sustainable Transformation at Antwerp Management School. He is also Founder of CSR International, Director of Kaleidoscope Futures and Fellow at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. He describes himself as a professional idea-monger, storyteller and meme-weaver. His work as a strategy analyst, sustainability advisor, CSR expert, futurist, film producer and professional speaker has taken him to 77 countries in the past 30 years to work for clients like Coca-Cola, Dell, DHL and HSBC to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank.

The topics that Wayne frequently talks on include: Transformational leadership, The world in 2050, Creating integrated value, The future of CSR, Sustainability innovation, The new nexus economy, Becoming future-fit, and Purpose-inspired change.

Wayne's LinkedIn

Kate Raworth

Kate Raworth is a renegade economist focused on making economics fit for 21st century realities. Her internationally best-selling book Doughnut Economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist has been translated into over 20 languages and has been widely influential with diverse audiences, from the UN General Assembly to Pope Francis to Extinction Rebellion.

Kate is a Senior Associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, where she teaches on the Masters in Environmental Change and Management. She is also Professor of Practice at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

Over the past 25 years, Kate’s career has taken her from working with micro-entrepreneurs in the villages of Zanzibar to co-authoring the Human Development Report for UNDP in New York, followed by a decade as Senior Researcher at Oxfam.

Kate has written extensively for media including The Guardian, The New Statesman, Newsweek.com, and Wired.com, and has contributed to many radio programmes including for BBC Radio 4, The World Service, ABC and NPR, as well as television including CNN World News, Al-Jazeera, BBC, ITV and CBC. The Guardian has named her as “one of the top ten tweeters on economic transformation”.

Kate's Twitter

Ioannis Ioannou

Prof. Ioannou is a leading strategy scholar whose research focuses on Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). More specifically, he seeks to understand whether, how, and the extent to which the modern business organization contributes towards building a sustainable future. His award-winning academic work evolves around two main themes:

  • Understanding how the broaderinvestment community perceives, evaluates and reacts to corporate engagementwith, and integration of, environmental and social issues into strategy and
  • Understanding the multiple andmultilevel factors that may affect the corporate decision to adoptenvironmentally and socially responsible strategies.

Prof. Ioannou is deeply engaged with the world of practice. He is the co-Chair of the Sustainability Advisory Panel of Merck KGaA, a member of the ESG Advisory Board of the DWS Group, one of the world’s leading asset managers with about $900 billion of assets under management, a member of the Advisory Board of the Sustainable Risk Assessment Framework (SRAF), the Board of the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability (ARCS) and serves as an Advisor to TreeApp. He is also a member of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Expert Network with expertise in the area of Sustainable Development and a member of the experts’ network of KKS Advisors, a leading sustainability advisory firm.

Ioannis' LinkedIn

Reon Brand & Simona Rocchi

Reon Brand is Senior Director Foresight and Socio-cultural trends at Philips Design. He is responsible for gaining understanding of emerging future directions for the Philips Strategic Company Innovation. In June 2019, Brand published his latest research called Co-Emerging Futures, a model which looks at emerging developments in times of profound global challenges.

In 2010, together with Simona Rocchi, Reon Brand published Rethinking value in a changing landscape. The research explores how perception, creation and distribution of value has changed over time. This model was meant to be a ‘reflection tool’ that would help companies to better understand how their business models are affected by the dynamics within the different socio-economic paradigms. Brand and Rocchi distinguished four distinct socio-economic paradigms, which are unfolding in a linear sequence: The Industrial Paradigm (1945>); The Experience Paradigm (1980>), The Knowledge Paradigm (2000>), The Transformation Paradigm (2015>). An important result of this study is the shift from value chains to value networks, which required a major shift in thinking, especially for companies.

Reon's LinkedIn

Simona's LinkedIn

Alex Steffen

Alex Steffen is a Climate futurist, award-winning writer, speaker and foresight consultant, “One of the world’s leading voices on sustainability and the future of the planet” (Vancouver Sun). Alex is a prolific writer and public thinker, having written thousands of pieces, been profiled in numerous media interviews and given hundreds of talks to audiences around the world. Over the last ten years he has also advised some of the world’s most forward-looking institutions, investors, philanthropists and NGOs.

In 2013-2014, he was Planetary Futurist in Residence at the design and innovation firm IDEO. His 2012 book Carbon Zero: Imagining cities that can save the planet is an exploration of the kinds of design, technological and policy innovations that can transform our cities into low-carbon engines of prosperity.

Alex's LinkedIn

John Fullerton

John Fullerton is an unconventional economist, impact investor, writer, and some have said philosopher. Building on and integrating the work of many, he is the architect of Regenerative Economics, first conceived in his 2015 booklet, “Regenerative Capitalism: How Universal Patterns and Principles Will Shape the New Economy.”

After a successful 20-year career on Wall Street where he was a Managing Director of what he calls “the old JPMorgan,” John listened to a persistent inner voice and walked away in 2001 with no plan but many questions. A few months later he experienced 9-11 first hand. The questions crystalized into his life’s work with the creation of the Capital Institute in 2010 where his work reflects the rising evolutionary shift in consciousness from Modern Age thinking to Integral Age thinking. Guided by the universal patterns and principles that describe how all healthy living systems that sustain themselves in the real world actually work, the promise of Regenerative Economics and Finance is to unlock the profound and presently unseen potential that is the source of our future prosperity and the reason for hope in our troubled times.

John's LinkedIn

Andrew Winston

Andrew Winston is a globally-recognized expert on megatrends and how to build companies that thrive by serving the world.

Named to ‘Thinkers50 list of the top management thinkers in the world’, his views on strategy have been sought after by leading companies, including 3M, DuPont, J&J, Kimberly-Clark, Marriott, PepsiCo, and Unilever. Andrew is the author of the bestsellers Green to Gold and The Big Pivot. His latest book, Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More than They Take (co-authored with renowned CEO Paul Polman), is one of Financial Times’ Best Business Books of the Year. Net Positive has been called an “electrifying strategy for business success and unlike any other book you’ve read” by Merck Chairman Ken Frazier, a “wonderful rallying call” by Sir Richard Branson, and “pure heresy” by Arianna Huffington. Andrew is also a respected and dynamic speaker, reaching audiences of thousands at executive meetings around the planet. He received degrees in economics, business, and environmental management from Princeton, Columbia, and Yale.

Andrew's LinkedIn

Leen Gorissen

Leen Gorissen, Ph.D. in Biology, is specialized in ecology, transition science, regenerative design and bio-inspired innovation. She is an author and the founder of Centre4NI, a catalyst that helps organizations and businesses to innovate like nature. She is a frequently asked evaluator of innovation projects by the European Commission, a thought leader on innovation-beyond-the-usual, a strategist and business innovation process facilitator.

She has headed projects on the circular economy, urban sustainability transitions and sustainable forest management. Taking clients on nature immersions to elucidate how nature works and how businesses can apply Natural Intelligence to upgrade innovation is one of her favorite things. Because going against the ways in which life works is inherently inefficient. It costs energy, resources, health and spirit. She organizes bio-inspired innovation sessions in cities across the world.

Leen's LinkedIn

Laurence Van Elegem
Laurence Van Elegem
Laurence has more than 10 years of experience in marketing, communications and disruptive innovation. Passionately curious, she is fascinated by the impact of technology and science on the way we work, consume and live our lives.
See author page
Join us on our next experience
calendar icon
Get front row access to the latest scoop and new upcoming experiences, bundled into a monthly newsletter
You may opt-out any time. 
Read the .
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
calendar icon
January 12, 2023
SDG & Sustainability