ASU Wrigley Institute board member to chair economic council

portrait of ASU Wrigley Institue board member William McDonough

William McDonough, member of the board of directors of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University and world renowned architect, educator and author, has been appointed chair of the World Economic Forum’s Meta-Council on the Circular Economy.

The meta-council represents the forum’s multi-sector initiative to accelerate business-driven innovation to scale the circular economy – an industrial economy that is restorative in principle by using renewable energy, minimizing the use of toxic chemicals, and eliminating waste through thoughtful design.

A sustainable growth pioneer, McDonough is known internationally for his revolutionary Cradle to Cradle design framework developed with Michael Braungart, an approach that relies on restorative and sustainable design of products and system. The framework forms the underpinning philosophy of the circular economy and the new council.

“Bill’s expertise clearly lends itself to an appointment of this stature,” said Gary Dirks, director of the ASU Wrigley Institute. “It is always exciting to see members of the board of directors for Sustainability at ASU contributing to sustainability innovation at the global level.”

“Bill is a world-class innovator in his many roles as designer of the built environment, creator of new business models and communicator of what ‘sustainability’ must become in the 21st century,” said Rob Melnick, executive dean and chief operating officer of the ASU Wrigley Institute. “I can think of no one more able to accelerate and scale the circular economy from the World Economic Forum platform than Bill McDonough.”

As chair, McDonough will oversee the forum’s effort to establish proof of real-world application of the economic, social and environmental benefits of a circular economy through targeted programs that aim to elevate the discussion and actions to a global audience. Under the guidance of McDonough’s vision and strategic insights, the Meta-Council on the Circular Economy will convene top-tier international companies, stakeholders, policymakers and other business influencers to identify systemic changes needed to facilitate the shift to a sustainable global economy.

“We are delighted that Bill has agreed to chair this council,” says Dominic Waughray, head of environmental initiatives at the World Economic Forum. “He brings not only invaluable experience and knowledge in the circular economy space, but also the creative intelligence of a designer – a role which is as central to designing objects and buildings as it is to designing collaborations and encouraging systems thinking.”

McDonough calls the appointment a deep and abiding privilege. “I am honored to take on this very important role –as a designer,” he said. “Design is the first signal of human intention. A beautiful way to wage peace is by design, through commerce. The forum, which engages major influencers in the global economy, is a wonderful platform for this dialogue.”

Former special adviser on sustainable development to President Bill Clinton and author of several seminal books that focus on sustainable design of building, products, texts and enterprises, McDonough served as dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia from 1994-1999 and is currently a consulting professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, where his archives will be housed.