ASU convenes leaders for inaugural Sustainability Solutions Festival

December 18, 2013

Arizona State University, the nation’s leader in sustainability education, is partnering with global leaders in sustainable business, consumer innovation, renewable energy, science and the arts for a weeklong celebration of sustainability solutions. The variety of activities, events and audiences reflects the encompassing nature of opportunities in the sustainability arena. 

Themed “It’s time to find a better way,” the inaugural Sustainability Solutions Festival is convening a series of events from Feb. 17-22, 2014 that are targeted at a wide variety of audiences, from families and the ASU community to film buffs and leaders of industry. Featured partners for the festival are the GreenBiz Group and the Sustainability Consortiumalong with additional partners Arizona Solar SummitArizona Science CenterArizona SciTech FestivalSedona Film Festival and the City of Tempe. Intel ISEF Sustainability Award winners Download Full Image

“The Sustainability Solutions Festival exemplifies ASU’s endeavor to address the world’s environmental, economic and social challenges of the twenty-first century through collaborative, transdisciplinary and solutions-oriented thinking and training,” said Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State University. “As citizens of this planet, we have an obligation to future generations to embrace sustainability as a transformational core value in order to develop a society that is more environmentally sensitive, economically disciplined and socially just.”

The Sustainability Solutions Festival is one of eight programs within the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at the ASU Global Institute of Sustainability. Supported by a generous investment of the Rob and Melani Walton Fund of the Walton Family Foundation, the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives are designed to utilize the brightest minds in sustainability science to advance sustainability solutions, accelerate global impact and inspire future leaders.

“Incredible thinkers, courageous business leaders, dedicated practitioners and distinguished scholars are producing remarkable solutions to sustainability challenges. The Festival will celebrate and promote innovations that will ensure economic prosperity, cultural vitality and environmental resilience for many generations,” said Patricia Reiter, director of the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives.

The Festival will kick off on Presidents’ Day, February 17, 2014, with two events at the Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix. Sustainability Solutions Family Day begins with kid-friendly sustainability demonstrations and ends with a special screening of "Carbon Nation," hosted by the film’s director and producer, Peter Byck. The Sustainability Consortium, a group of global corporations whose founding members include Clorox, BestBuy, Coca Cola and Disney, will also commence their first day of member meetings at the Mission Palms in Tempe to further their aim of improving consumer product sustainability.

Day two (Feb. 18) is headlined by the opening day for the sixth annual GreenBiz Forum at the Montelucia Resort in Paradise Valley. This three-day conference defines the trends, challenges and opportunities in sustainable business, including the presentation and release of the State of Green Business report. Notable speakers and guests include Mark Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy; Peter Bakker, president and CEO of World Business Council for Sustainable Development; Anisa Kamidoli Costa, chairman and president of The Tiffany & Co. Foundation; Len Sauers, vice president of Global Sustainability at Procter & Gamble; and ASU President Michael Crow, who will deliver the conference’s opening address.

"The ASU-GreenBiz-Sustainability Consortium partnership, and the terrific program we have planned, are attracting many of the world’s largest companies,” says GreenBiz Group chairman and executive editor, Joel Makower. "The registration list is growing at an unprecedented rate, and we’re expecting another sell-out event."

In tandem with the GreenBiz Forum, ASU will be hosting a first-ever GreenBiz shadow conference at the university’s Tempe campus. Combining live streaming of the conference’s program with unique panels and presentations on campus, this shadow conference will allow members of the ASU community an exclusive opportunity to engage in the conference.

On day three (Feb. 19), the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives is proud to present the Sustainability Solutions Celebration at the historic Heard Museum in Phoenix. GreenBiz Forum and Sustainability Consortium guests will enjoy local food, drinks and entertainment while exploring the sustainability-oriented practices of Native Americans across North America that are on display throughout the museum.

The fourth Arizona Solar Summit anchors day four (Feb. 20) at the SkySong Innovation Center in Scottsdale. The summit focuses on introducing innovative policies, programs and technologies critical in reshaping Arizona energy markets.

Day five (Feb. 21) is devoted to the Sedona Green Film Festival, as the world-renowned Sedona International Film Festival comes to Tempe. Sustainability-themed selections and panel discussions will appeal equally to those who embrace films as well as green practices.

The Sustainability Solutions Festival closes on Saturday, February 22, 2014 in Tempe with Picnic in the Park, a grand community celebration open to the public, designed to honor the spirit of farm-to-table with great food, activities and entertainment for kids and adults.

For more information about the Festival, visit

Jason Franz

Assistant Director, Strategic Marketing and Communications, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory


At ASU, Brazilian student gains global perspective on sustainable tourism

December 18, 2013

For a while it seemed that João Paulo Faria Tasso would be a professional soccer player.

The Brazilian doctoral student from the University of Brasília (UnB), who is studying sustainable tourism at Arizona State University as part of the year-long Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program scholarship, played for local and state clubs and teams, and stayed away from home beginning at age 13 for soccer. Download Full Image

“Then, at the age of 18, I sustained a leg and ankle injury, and my soccer days came to an end,” Tasso says. “It was disappointing, but not heartbreaking. My family had always encouraged me to focus on my education, so I just shifted 100 percent of my attention to sustainable tourism studies.”

Tasso’s doctoral dissertation research, the majority of which has been conducted at the Laboratory for Tourism and Sustainability at UnB, is focused on sustainable tourism. More specifically, he studies how the phenomena of social inclusion and exclusion affect the economic status of natives living in regions with tourism potential.

“Brazil is one of world’s leading destinations for ecotourism,” he says. “As a sustainable tourism researcher, I look for opportunities that can further develop the tourism industry and, at the same time, benefit native populations, most of which remain mired in poverty.”

To learn and understand their lives and needs, Tasso once spent a month with local farmers and fishermen families that have no access to sewer and others basic facilities.

“It changed my perspective on life,” he says. “They were very happy with what they had. Their only need was to be acknowledged and recognized for the role they play in sustaining the fragile ecosystems they reside in. Their traditional activities, products and workforce need to be protected by the tourism market and included systematically.”

To gain an outlook on global sustainable tourism and ways in which it can benefit poverty-ridden natives, Tasso decided to apply for the BSMP scholarship program, launched by the Brazilian government to boost international education and collaborative research. He arrived at ASU six months ago.

“ASU has proved to be a great experience for me in terms of education and campus life,” he says. “I am working under Kathleen Andereck, director of the School of Community Resources and Development, to understand topics such as sustainable communities and livelihoods, community resilience, sustainability and equity, structural cohesion and embeddedness, community-based tourism, etc.”

In terms of campus experience, Tasso appreciates the discussion-oriented classes and the sense of family offered by the ASU community. He has made a number of friends from all over the world with whom he plays soccer and, sometimes, the guitar. The Brazilian native has even cheered on the Sun Devils at football games.

“It’s not easy to live a year in a country that is culturally different,” he says. “I have moments when I miss home or Brazilian food or speaking Portuguese, but the friendliness and warmth of people at ASU has been a great support system.”

In the long term, Tasso sees himself educating people on the advantages of sustainable tourism. He also hopes to demonstrate that a fair-trade agreement between the poverty-stricken native population and hospitality industry can enhance job opportunities, maintain or enhance the price of local products, and provide financial stability for locals.

“The challenge of doing something for someone drives me,” Tasso says. “It would be an honor for me to improve the lives of thousands of Brazilians through my work.”

Iti Agnihotri

Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications, Learning Enterprise