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Articles
The Battle of Beijing: Don't Just Innovate––Greenovate

After nearly a month travelling around Asia in support of our new book The Athena Doctrine, I was in Beijing when I stumbled upon Edward Wong’s  article “Life in a Toxic Country,” which chronicles his experience in Beijing. Wong's portrayal explores the effects of smog, pollution and food safety amid growing concerns for people's health and welfare in many expansive urban environments in China. 

But not everything in China is the tale of tainted toothpaste and lead paint. The article overlooked a nascent but growing movement within the country to create sustainable solutions. Flora Lan, a young graduate of one of China’s top universities, could have gone the way of her peers, landing a lucrative job at one of the many multinational firms eager for Chinese talent in Beijing and Shanghai. Instead, she is following her heart: working to help designers, marketers and educators make a profit by promoting environmentalism.

Her non-profit, Greenovate, teaches Chinese firms how to deliver sustainable products and services, while at the same time meeting international standards for labor fairness and environmental quality. Their clients range from manufacturing companies trying to reduce their carbon footprint to small restaurants where the chef wants to assure diners that he’s offering healthful and ecofriendly fare. Her work helps Chinese companies pursue profit, but with purpose.

This type of leadership is emerging in China as the state begins to reflect on the social costs of economic expansion. At the moment, there are few social entrepreneurs. But more private enterprises will step in to engage communities and work with the government to create sustainable solutions. This is just the start.

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