ZWC 2014 Keynote Address – Jeremy Rifkin ‘Guardedly Optimistic but Not Naive’

 In his keynote address to Metro Vancouver’s 2014 Zero Waste Conference, Jeremy Rifkin poses the question: will we succumb to the ecological and economic doom we have ourselves created, or will we thrive, having embraced the transformative technological and philosophical opportunities now available? In a videoconference presentation from Spain, Rifkin offers visionary concepts, sobering realities, and ultimately, reasons for optimism. Find out why this author of over 20 books and an advisor to governments and business around the world sees potential in the ‘Internet of Things’ and the ‘Collaborative Commons’ – to precipitate a third revolution in the global marketplace. Whether it’s quantifying the trend towards nearly-zero marginal costs achieved with green energy and 3D printing, the potential of the sharing economy to reduce waste, or describing how our youngest citizens are growing up with a mindset vastly different from the current paradigm, Rifkin’s presentation is a captivating look at a big question: What Happens Next? 

The topics covered in Rifkin’s presentation:

  • The Internet of Things – how the capability to reduce marginal costs to near zero for a wide range of products and services has significant implications for zero waste ambitions
  • The Sharing Economy and the Collaborative Commons – the first new economic system since the advent of capitalism and communism and why it will transform the global economy in less than 40 years
  • How Economic Paradigm Shifts Occur – the three key elements of a ‘general purpose technology platform’ that brings disruptive change to industries
  • The Sun and Wind Don’t Send a Bill – how Germany has transformed its energy production to renewable sources and small-scale power generation cooperatives
  • 3D Printing and Car Sharing – Two illustrative examples of technology and culture creating a major shift in waste generation and resource requirements
  • The Kids (will be) Alright – A new generation emerges, born into a sharing mindset from their very first toys and understanding the interconnectedness of the bio-sphere
  • Flirting With Disaster – Climate change is terrifying and real, but timely adoption of zero waste principles can make a difference.  Caveat: There’s no Plan B

A short question period followed Rifkin’s presentation. The audience asked:

  • How does the marginal cost society function with regard to food?
  • What is the impact of the sharing economy on employment
  • Which country is doing zero waste best? Why?

Join the Conversation

During the 2014 Zero Waste Conference, participants engaged by contributing comments and questions using a platform called “Pigeonhole”. We’ve collected all the input and posted it on the conference website. Browse the topics in the sessions, add your comments, and continue the conversation. Your contributions help us identify learning and engagement opportunities as we mark our calendars for the 2015 Zero Waste Conference.

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