Project Invitation – External Future Forces That Will ‘Disrupt’ the Business of Sustainability

What four or five external future forces are most likely to ‘disrupt’ the business of sustainability for companies, the industry, and society at large—thinking ten years ahead? 

In 2007, Institute for the Future created a 10-year custom forecast for GEMI focused on external future forces likely to disrupt sustainability. The forecast was quite accurate and it gave GEMI project members unusual foresight that contributed to their business strategy. Now, we are looking ten years ahead again at a very different future in a very different world. In this world, it is too late to have just a sustainability strategy. Now, companies must have a strategy that melds sustainability and business.  Click here to review the 2018 project proposal.

GEMI/IFTF 2007-2017 Sustainability Map

GEMI is seeking a preliminary indication of interest from organizations wishing to participate in and contribute to a new custom forecast that will point a ten-year lens on external future forces—including both threats and opportunities—that will disrupt sustainability, with a focus on business choices and business strategy.

The goal of the project is to use foresight to awaken, engage, and drive change in the present. Urgent future disruptions are looming and this project will provide the grounding to engage with and win through the most important external future forces.

This project will focus on this research question: Over the next ten years, what four or five external future forces are most likely to disrupt the business of sustainability for companies, the industry, and society at large?

We will focus in particular on the links to digital transformation and the impacts on the business of sustainability. This new forecast will help leaders glimpse and understand the future disruptions in the environment within which they will be required to win. It will help companies heighten their game, and it will give a rigorous, provocative futures perspective to inform business strategy.

GEMI’s goal is to raise funding for this project from a range of companies / organizations, all of whom are interested in successfully navigating the major future forces that will affect the business of sustainability over the next decade. This cost-shared model allows project partners to receive the map and presentation at a much lower cost than commissioning this foresight individually. Active GEMI member companies will be invited to participate at no additional cost.

The fee per partner company is $15,000 USD and GEMI’s goal is to secure commitments from a minimum of 10 organizations. If GEMI is successful in securing a minimum of $150,000 in funding commitments from interested organizations, the project will be kicked off in 2018. If there is not a sufficient response to GEMI’s project solicitation, GEMI and IFTF will work to be prepared to execute the project in 2019.

IFTF will develop a new custom forecast map for project partners in pdf form to allow partners to focus strategic conversations on the four or five most important external future forces. The 2007 map was a very accurate forecast, but as the speed of business has increased, maps like this are just too busy to engage many top executives. This map will be just as content rich, but more clear and actionable.

In addition to the map, IFTF will create an annotated PowerPoint presentation that summarizes the forecast in a form that can be used easily by the sponsor companies, even when IFTF is not present.

IFTF will offer presentations of the forecast at sponsor location at a cost depending on which staff members are involved in that presentation. The new custom forecast map will be available to project partners first, but then will be public after an agreed upon period.

The target kick off for this research project is March 25, 2018, with the final map and presentation delivered six months thereafter.

If you would be interested in learning more about how you can participate in and contribute to this project, please click here to express your interest . Please contact us with any questions.

Interested in Participating?

Complete the short form to receive more information on participation

GEMI Meeting -Supply Chain Sustainability

GEMI invites corporate sustainability leaders to join us in Louisville to engage in an interactive discussion on supply chain sustainability.

GEMI is convening key industry groups and corporate supply chain sustainability leaders to share information on industry approaches to supply chain sustainability harmonization, and identify potential opportunities to promote harmonization across efforts.

The workshop has been designed to outline opportunities to promote mutual recognition/increased harmonization across efforts, while supporting common cross-industry goals.

The meeting will be held on November 15-16 in Louisville, KY, and will be hosted on Living Lands & Waters floating classroom barge moored on the downtown Louisville Riverfront (pictured).

The meeting will be held in a truly unique facility that is used in cleaning up America’s rivers, and built using a variety of sustainably sourced materials.

In conjunction with the meeting, meeting participants will have the opportunity to work together as a group and join in a cleanup of the Ohio River in downtown Louisville with Living Lands & Waters. Please contact us to learn more about participation in the event.


Please complete the following form to request a guest invitation for the meeting.

GEMI Summer Meeting Update

GEMI Summer Meeting Update

Tennant Company will be hosting GEMI’s summer meeting “Resource Efficiency: Taking the Circular Economy from Theory to Action” on July 27-28 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

This meeting will examine tangible resource efficiency projects/examples from across industries, and explore steps corporate sustainability leaders are taking to implement circular economy concepts in their businesses and create value.

Already, there’s a great group of guest speakers confirmed: Carrie Pearson, LCA Supervisor, 3M; John Bradburn, Global Manager of Waste Reduction, General Motors; John Peichel, Technology Leader, GE Water; Tod Christenson, Director, Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council; Adam Muellerweiss, Director, Sustainability and Environmental Affairs, Johnson Controls; Chad Pregracke, Founder, Living Lands & Waters; Hunt Briggs, Project Manager, Resource Recycling Systems; Megann Head, Environmental Design Engineer, Steelcase; Libby Bernick, SVP, Trucost; Andy Mangan, Executive Director, US BCSD; and, others.

GEMI invites corporate environmental and sustainability leaders to register participate in a  meeting of GEMI as our guest.  Please contact Kellen Mahoney at [] to receive more information on guest participation.

Click here to see more details:

GEMI Summer Meeting – Resource Efficiency


Please complete the following form to request a guest invitation for the meeting.

Subject to change.

9:00am – 9:15am GEMI Welcome and Antitrust Guidelines

Introduction to the meeting theme, and brief overview of GEMI projects/activities.


9:15am – 9:40am Tennant Company Host Presentation

  • Pete Swenson, Director Sustainable Enterprise, Tennant Company


9:40am – 10:05am Introduction to University of Minnesota Institute on Environment (IonE)

Overview of IonE, its vision, and the variety of projects it is leading.

  • Jessica Hellman, IonE Director, University of Minnesota


10:05am – 10:20am Optimizing Eco-Efficiency Across the Procurement Portfolio

Update on NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise(NiSE) research on environmentally preferable procurement, stemming from prior GEMI collaboration.

  • Tim Smith, Director NiSE at IonE, UMN


10:20am – 10:45am US EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management Strategy

Update on EPA’s SMM strategy and initiatives, and the actions underway with the G7 Alliance on Resource Efficiency.

  • Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator, Office of Land and Emergency Management, US EPA (invited)


10:45am – 11:00am Break
11:00am – 12:00pm Closing the Loop to Advance a New Economy

What are the business opportunities of moving to a circular economy, and what key challenges and opportunities exist across various industries.

  • Libby Bernick, SVP, Trucost
  • Andy Mangan, Executive Director, US BCSD


12:00pm – 1:00pm Lunch
1:00pm – 2:00pm Designing for Circularity

How are businesses integrating life-cycle concepts into the design process and applying circular principles in design of new products.

  • Carrie Pearson, LCA Supervisor, 3M
  • Megann Head, Environmental Design Engineer, Global Sustainability, Steelcase


2:00pm – 2:30pm Closing the Loop: Developing Circular Business Models

What steps are businesses taking in developing and scaling new circular business models, and what barriers may need to be considered.

  • Adam Muellerweiss, Director, Sustainability and Environmental Affairs, Johnson Controls


2:30pm – 2:45pm Break
2:45pm – 3:30pm Building a Supply Web to Keep Materials in Use

How can a web of unique supplier partners come together to support new reuse opportunities for byproducts.

  • John Bradburn, Global Manager of Waste Reduction, General Motors


3:30pm – 4:50pm Value Chain Approaches to Developing New Resource Efficiency Solutions

Discussion of innovative partnership approaches working to develop and enable new resource efficiency solutions.

  • Tod Christenson, Director, Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council
  • Hunt Briggs, Project Manager, Resource Recycling Systems


4:50pm – 5:00pm Closing Comments
7:00pm Dinner: Fogo de Chao – Hosted by Tennant Company


July 28

9:00am – 9:15am GEMI Welcome and Antitrust Guidelines


9:15am – 9:45am Cleaning up America’s Rivers

Chad Pregracke has made it his life’s work to clean up the Mississippi River and other American waterways, removing millions of pounds of waste from rivers across the US.

  • Chad Pregracke, Founder, Living Lands and Waters


9:45am – 10:15am Additive Manufacturing: Innovation in Technology and Materials

What efforts are underway to accelerate the adoption of new 3D printing materials, technologies and products, and drive new innovation?

  •  Ed Morris, Director, America Makes (invited)
10:15am – 10:45am Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition

A regional partnership for demonstrating and accelerating a thriving circular economy.

  • Amy Skoczlas Cole, former Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Pentair, Chair of Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition
10:45am – 11:00am Break


11:00am – 11:30am Circular Economy of Water

What are the current technologies / partnership models supporting circular approaches for water, and what are the next steps needed to advance such efforts.

  • John Peichel, Technology Leader, GE Water


11:30am – 12:30pm Creating New Value Opportunities through Resource Efficiency

How are companies developing innovative opportunities to improve resource efficiency while building new business value and generating broader sustainability benefits.

  • Sheryl Corrigan, Director EHS, Koch Industries
  • Steve Levitsy, VP Sustainability, Perdue Farms (invited)
  • Anne Monine, Corporate Environmental Lead, Cargill (invited)


12:30pm – 1:45pm Luncheon Roundtable Discussion: Next Steps / Action Items

Facilitated by Steve Hellem, GEMI

After grabbing lunch, participants will review the issues discussed over the course of the meeting, and discuss opportunities that exist to collaborate to advance new resource efficiency solutions.


1:45pm – 2:00pm Closing Comments