As the financial crisis continued to deepen, I flew to Porto, Portugal, on Tuesday, to do a keynote address at an Organic Exchange conference on opportunities to use organic approaches to strengthen sustainability, resource and investment strategies. The focus of Organic Exchange, which involves companies like C&A, Nike and Patagonia, is on organic cotton.
One highlight of the two-day visit was dinner with a small group of people near the old iron bridge across the Douro, hosted by Jill Dumain of Patagonia; the other a dinner with pretty much all the participants at Taylor’s, with spectacular views over Porto – and a full moon hanging in the sky (see photo above). Wonderful evening sandwiched between Rebecca Calahan Klein of Organic Exchange and Marci Zaroff of Under the Canopy.
The keynote seemed to go very well, with a couple of companies telling me that they had (independently) called or emailed their CEOs to suggest I did a similar speech for them. That said, I did provoke one participant to protest that I was “cursing in church” when I imagined a future in which demographic pressures – with a global population rising towards 9-10 billion – drove a process by which elements of the organic movement hybridised with aspects of the genetic engineering world. But then others came up afterwards and said they could easily imagine this happening, as safer GM methods were used to boost the water efficiency of cotton plants – though, admittedly, the definitions of organic would need to change for this to become possible.