ATLANTA, GA — Former President Barack Obama kicked-off the 2019 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo – the world’s largest convening of leaders in sustainability – at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Obama joined Mahesh Ramanujam, President and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council, for an hour-long moderated conversation about sustainability in the built environment, the direct link between climate change and global economic inequality, and the importance of leadership in shaping a sustainable agenda.
After being asked what he believes to be the “most compelling issue in the world today,” Obama responded by citing that two “directly connected” issues top his list – “climate change” and “global economic inequality.”
Obama went on to say, “The reason I say those two things are connected is that it is hard to figure out how we solve sustainability issues and deal with climate change if you also have huge gaps in wealth and opportunity and education... Because what happens — and we’re seeing this around the globe — is that as wealth gets more and more concentrated and more and more energy is used up by the few, the many become resentful and it undermines our sense of politics and a sense of community. It is hard for us then to mobilize the body politic around taking collective action.”
In the course of the conversation, Obama talked about how his experience as a parent has helped shape his decision-making. "“Parenting takes you outside of yourself … It reminds you that ultimately what is most important is what you are contributing… It humbles you, people don’t listen to you, you have to come up with new strategies to get things done.”
In addition to the expo, Greenbuild 2019 will feature four days of networking, educational sessions and green building tours, as well as daily keynote addresses delivered by visionary leaders including Jeanne Gang, architect, Dr. Bernice King, renowned civil rights and peace advocate, Jamie Margolin, teen climate change activist, and Dr. Marshall Shepherd, a leading international expert in weather and climate.
Also on the schedule is a speaker spotlight event with Jasmine Crowe, the Atlanta-based founder of Goodr, as well as a Resilience Summit, Global Health & Wellness Summit, Women in Green Power Luncheon, Leadership Awards Ceremony, and a Corporate Sustainability Forum. The event will conclude with the Greenbuild Celebration event featuring Collective Soul on Thursday, Nov. 21, at the LEED Platinum Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The conference is also dedicated to leaving a meaningful impact on its host city and features several initiatives aimed at improving the lives of local Atlantans, such as a robust scholarship program and the Greenbuild 2019 Legacy Project - a $12,500 grant, awarded to Hagar Civilization Missionary, Inc. (Hagar CTM). The nonprofit affordable housing developer and property owner of the English Avenue project located in Atlanta’s Westside English Avenue.