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Kenan Institute 2022 Annual Theme: Stakeholder Capitalism
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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues

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Pless, a Kenan Institute Distinguished Fellow, will discuss the degree to which divestment versus continued investment in polluting industries might help drive the transition to a cleaner economy.

Nuclear power’s star has dimmed in recent years, diminished by the rise of solar, wind and natural gas as well as the 2011 disaster at Japan’s Fukushima plant. Now many nations, suddenly in need of a secure, clean energy source, have plans to reopen or extend the lives of their existing facilities.

Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and his family will transfer ownership of the company – valued at roughly $3 billion – to two newly created environmental trusts. In this Kenan Commentary, we ask four questions to determine how Chouinard’s move fits into the framework of the institute’s annual theme, stakeholder capitalism, and whether a better comparison is the laudable but more common idea of an altruistic business owner.

Mark Little, executive director of the Kenan Institute-affiliated center CREATE, provided expert testimony in a process that resulted in a May 11 settlement agreement regarding contracting and hiring practices for Dominion Energy’s $9.8 billion Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind renewable energy project.

Stakeholder Capitalism

The idea of the Federal Reserve using monetary policy to help mitigate climate risk has gained traction in some circles, but Director of Research Christian Lundblad writes in a new piece for Fortune that such a shift would come with its own set of risks. In addition, nothing the Fed might do would change the fact that Congress must lead any governmental response to climate change.

Society faces a series of major problems, such as climate change, which require transformative technological change as part of the solution. From our 2022 Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Conference, MIT Sloan School of Management Professor Jacquelyn Pless, Duke University Professor Emeritus Eric Toone and Kenan Institute Chief Economist Gerald Cohen explore the potential and limits of entrepreneurship in solving these problems.

Stakeholder Capitalism

With a recent report from the United Nations warning that climate change has already begun to cause irreversible damage, experts during the 2022 Kenan Institute Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Conference discussed the role innovation can – and should – be playing to combat these ill effects. This week’s insight explores the topic through Q&A with Dr. Eric Toone, executive managing director and technology lead at Breakthrough Energy Ventures, and Dr. Jacqueline Pless, the Fred Kayne (1960) Career Development Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT Sloan School of Management.

Kenan Institute experts, industry leaders and researchers came together to discuss the broad societal impact of entrepreneurs – including entrepreneurial ecosystems, funding and America’s untapped assets – and some of the biggest trends currently seen in the industry.

On Jan. 7, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced a sweeping new executive order that aims to achieve net-zero emissions within 30 years while protecting and empowering North Carolina’s underserved communities. Urban Investment Strategies Center Director Jim Johnson, who serves as chairman of the N.C. Department of Environmental Justice and Equity Board and as a member of the task force on social, economic and environmental equity, accompanied Cooper at a press conference in support of the order at N.C. A&T State University. Read Johnson's statements here.

With more business leaders than ever before embracing stakeholder capitalism – or the belief that companies should work to benefit all stakeholders, not just shareholders – myriad questions have arisen about the concept’s viability and potential for impact. The Kenan Institute has been working to respond, and today we are excited to launch a new series exploring the most pressing issues surrounding stakeholder capitalism. Kicking off the series is this week’s Kenan Insight, which takes a deeper dive into the buzzed-about world of ESG investing. We hope you’ll check it out, and look forward to engaging with you on this topic and others throughout the series!

As long-standing leaders in sustainability, the Center for Sustainable Enterprise and the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise are proud to host the University of North Carolina Sustainability Awards. These awards recognize the leadership of North Carolina Business in protecting and promoting the state’s natural resources.

Many Americans expect newly inaugurated President Joe Biden to achieve progress in improving the quality of the environment. In this Kenan Insight, we explain why we support these expectations, examining what Biden has already done in his brief tenure, the feasibility of the plans he’s outlined thus far, and whether (and how) he can propel the U.S. to a leadership role in sustainability.