A Message from William McDonough

Jay Owen Green Prosperity, Reforming Global Finance, Beyond GDP

Ethical Markets congratulates our longtime colleague Bill McDonough and assures our full support for this Meta-Council of the World Economic Forum, Hazel Henderson, Editor


Greetings, Friends and Colleagues,I am delighted to share with you the news that I have been appointed Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Meta-Council on the Circular Economy. This is a special honor for me, as a designer, to work with international leaders toward a shared goal of a positive future for all.

Below is the press release about the appointment.

Warm Regards,

Architect William McDonough Appointed by World Economic Forum to Chair Meta-Council on the Circular Economy
Charlottesville, Virginia (July 9,  2014) — The world economic forum (the Forum) has announced the appointment of globally recognized designer, author, educator and thought leader William McDonough as Chair of the Forum’s Meta-Council on the Circular Economy. The newly formed Council represents the Forum’s multi-sector initiative to accelerate business-driven innovation to scale the circular economy. As stated in the charge to McDonough: “The Meta-Council on the Circular Economy, which will be comprised of members from other Global Agenda Councils and have its own mandate and outputs, will focus on the redesign of policy ecosystems needed to allow systems-level change and widespread adoption of circular models—in developed, emerging and developing regions.”As Chair of the Meta-Council, McDonough will oversee the Forum’s effort to establish proof of concept 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.

The Cradle to Cradle® design framework that William McDonough co-developed with Dr. Michael Braungart is an underpinning philosophy of the circular economy and the new Council. At the Forum in Davos in January, McDonough led a CEO workshop around sustainability focused on Cradle and Cradle, upcycling and the circular economy. McDonough was chosen to lead the Meta-Council on the Circular Economy due to his decades of design innovation and thought leadership dedicated to developing safe and healthy products, architecture and communities. In addition, his ability to effectively communicate Cradle to Cradle principles made him an ideal leader for rendering visible the beneficial opportunities of the circular economy. McDonough likes to encourage business innovators to design a better world “for all children of all species for all time,” as he says.

McDonough held appointments on previous Global Agenda Councils and formerly served as the Special Advisor on Sustainable Development to President Clinton, and advises corporations such as Walmart, Waste Management and others. In addition to running three companies (McDonough Innovation, MBDC and William McDonough + Partners), McDonough has also led the creation of the growing Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, which administers the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Products Program, as well as other influential nonprofits such as Make It Right in New Orleans.

“We are delighted that Bill has agreed to chair this Council,” says Dominic Waughray, Head of Environmental Initiatives at the world economic forum. “He not only brings invaluable experience and knowledge in the circular economy space, but also the creative intelligence of a designera 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 be asked to take on this very important role—as a designer,” he says. “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.”

The work is under way. McDonough is already building the team and will be working virtually with the Meta-Council before its gathering at the Forum’s Summit on the Global Agenda in November in Dubai, UAE.


About William McDonough

William McDonough is a globally recognized designer, thought leader and sustainable growth pioneer and a pre-eminent voice for the world-changing power of ecologically intelligent design. Architect of highly acclaimed icons of sustainable design; advisor and business strategist for leading Fortune 500 and entrepreneurial companies; co-creator with Dr. Michael Braungart of Cradle to Cradle®, a global strategy for safe, healthy design; he often attends the World Economic Forum; he is a special advisor to the Clinton Global Initiative; author of The Hannover Principles: Design for Sustainability (1992); co-author with Braungart of the widely influential Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (2002) and The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability—Designing for Abundance (2013), McDonough has set the terms and defined the principles of “design for sustainability” for more than 30 years, creating seminal buildings, products, texts and enterprises and preparing the ground for its widespread growth. McDonough served as Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia (1994-1999) and is currently a Consulting Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University where his archives will be housed. 

William McDonough’s current design work includes product and packaging design as well as architecture at many scales. Current active architecture projects include Park 20|20 in the Netherlands and AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles; these build on flagship projects that include Ford’s River Rouge revitalization and NASA’s new Sustainability Base, a beyond-LEED Platinum federal facility recognized with the 2014 “Good Design is Good Business” award from Architectural Record magazine. His current industrial designs are focused on designing products and redesigning packaging, including food packaging for Walmart. In recognition of his visionary work, McDonough has received the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development (1996), for exemplary leadership and public service; the U.S. EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (2003), for groundbreaking innovations in product development; and the Smithsonian’s National Design Award (2004), for outstanding achievement in environmental design. (www.mcdonough.com). Cradle to Cradle® and C2C® are registered trademarks of MBDC.

Time magazine has recognized McDonough as “Hero for the Planet,” stating that “his utopianism is grounded in a unified philosophy that—in demonstrable and practical ways—is changing the design of the world.”

About the World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum is an international institution committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation in the spirit of global citizenship. It engages with business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. Incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation in 1971 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the Forum is independent, impartial and not tied to any interests. It cooperates closely with all leading international organizations (www.weforum.org).

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