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The Climate Champion’s Guide to Sustainability Conferences

If there’s anything climate leaders have learned about creating sustainable, global change, it’s that we can’t be successful if we’re not collaborating.

Since 1973, when the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Sweden first occurred, sustainability conferences have been reliable solutions to problems related to climate change; together, the world has known that many groups of people with different backgrounds are more powerful than one.

Conferences have since become open to professionals of all interests and backgrounds, paving the way for you to upskill, connect with passionate minds, and drive global progress. 

But if you attend any conferences, you’ll want to make sure you attend relevant conferences and maximize your engagement — the first step is knowing which conferences are out there, and techniques you can use to reap the most benefits.

First things first: find your sustainability conference

Conferences come in all shapes and sizes, including in-person, hybrid, and virtual formats. When selecting a conference, consider:

  • Industry and field of study
  • Costs and scholarships
  • Location and travel logistics. 

Here are some popular options to consider:

  • In-person conferences offer the opportunity for face-to-face interactions and immersive learning experiences.
  • Hybrid conferences provide a blend of in-person and virtual experiences for increased flexibility.
  • Virtual conferences offer convenient, cost-effective access to valuable content and networking from anywhere.

Our favorite sustainability conferences: Business and Circular Economy

Check out these options if business and circular economy is an area of interest for you:

1) GreenFin: The Premier Sustainable Finance and Investing Event — New York, NY, USA.

“GreenFin 24 is the leading sustainable finance conference for professionals harnessing the power of capital markets to realize a net zero economy. Form valuable connections with finance, investment and sustainability experts, get up to speed on the latest ESG trends in finance and investing, and discover essential products and services needed to accelerate your climate strategy.”

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2) Bloom 24 Accelerating Business Action at COP 16 — Cali, Colombia.

“Hosted alongside COP 16 in Cali, Colombia, Bloom 24 (October 24-25, 2024) will bring together a vibrant community of thought leaders and practitioners working to implement ambitious nature strategies. Each day of interactive problem-solving, learning and networking will convene a group of 200 invitation-only participants to explore how companies can halt and reverse nature loss within their operations and supply chains.”

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3) GreenBiz The Premier Annual Event for Sustainable Business Leaders — Phoenix, Arizona, USA

“At GreenBiz 25 — the premier annual event for sustainability professionals — you’ll connect with peers and trailblazers and master the skills essential to face your company’s unique challenges. Join your community, including the most influential voices in sustainability, and learn what’s next in decarbonization, disclosure, nature, supply chains, strategic communications, change management and more at GreenBiz 25.” 

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4) Cleantech Forum North America — San Diego, California, USA 

“Cleantech Forum North America connects the latest generation of start-ups with investors and corporates looking for new partners. From co-investors to GPs and LPs, you’ll meet partners who can take you in new and exciting directions. Registration will be capped at 700 participants.”

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5) Sustainability Live London — London, United Kingdom.

“Get ready to receive crucial insights from internationally acclaimed business leaders with open unfiltered discussions. They are here to share their valuable knowledge and real-world experience that will accelerate your efforts in cutting emissions and enhancing your environmental footprint throughout 2024.”

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6) 2024 ESG Summit — New York City, New York, USA.

“The 2024 ESG Summit aims to equip senior leaders with the tools and insights necessary to cultivate and nurture effective partnerships. Distinguished speakers from corporate, non-profit, and governmental spheres will delve into key topics to fortify their resilience amidst these challenges.”

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7) PSX 2024  — Denver, Colorado, USA.

“PSX is the annual conference hosted by the Product Stewardship Society, the leading association for product stewardship professionals. The focus of the conference is to provide attendees with the latest trends in education, valuable solutions to their daily challenges, and networking opportunities to deepen their knowledge and relationships.”

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8) The Green Expo  — Mexico City, Mexico.

“With a 30-year track record, THE GREEN EXPO® has become the benchmark event for industries seeking to minimize pollution effects and move towards a sustainable future where the economy and the environment are mutually beneficial.”

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9) Sustainable Brands San Diego — San Diego, California, USA.

“Be inspired and equipped to harness the latest innovations across technology, materials science, supply chain management, business models, marketing, and more to drive new business and brand value as well as net positive environmental and social impact.”

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10) Innovation Forum Apparel and Textiles Conference — New York City, New York, USA.

“This two-day business conference will address how brands can adapt practices to deliver on ambitious commitments and growing stakeholder expectations. We’ll equip delegates with the best-practice and guidance to develop net-zero strategies, transform supply chains, manage consumer communications, scale circularity, reduce waste, and drive positive social impacts.”

 Find Out More


Our favorite sustainability conferences: environmental policy, climate science, and green technologies

1) Climate Week NYC — New York, New York, USA

“Climate Week NYC is one of the key summits on the international calendar and has been driving climate action forward since it was first launched by Climate Group in 2009. Climate Week NYC brings together international leaders from business, government, and civil society to showcase the unstoppable momentum of global climate action.”

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2) Verge — San Jose, California, USA

“VERGE 24 is the center of gravity for professionals catalyzing transformative, profitable change through deploying climate tech at scale. Join more than 6,000 leaders from across the climate tech ecosystem to accelerate the speed and scale of your impact.”

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3) 19th Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water, and Environment Systems — Rome, Italy

“The 19th Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems (SDEWES) is dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge on methods, policies and technologies for increasing the sustainability of development by de-coupling growth from the use of natural resources and by a transition to a knowledge-based economy.”

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4) UN Climate Change Conference UNFCCC COP 29 — Baku, Azerbaijan

A global gathering of leaders to assess progress on climate change and develop policies to address new challenges.

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5) Water Science Conference (WaterSciCon24) — Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA

“The WaterSciCon24 theme of Catalyzing Collaborations shines in our strong programming across the conference. In addition to a full scientific program, WaterSciCon24 presents training events complementing the scientific sessions where you can learn new skills alongside your colleagues.”

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6) World Hydrogen Energy Conference — Cancun, Mexico

“The World Hydrogen Energy Conference is an excellent occasion for international and Mexican communities to work together to enhance global activities in the field of hydrogen energy systems for a sustainable future. The dissemination of knowledge on hydrogen energy will foster interest in the new scientific and technological activities.”

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7) Climate Concave 2024 — Remote, worldwide

“The 2nd Virtual Climate Change Conference 2024 organized by the Intellect Conferences Limited virtually on date June 24-25, 2024.”

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8) Electronic Waste Expo — Frankfurt, Germany 

“E-Waste World Conference & Expo 2024 is the must-attend event for recycling companies, critical raw material suppliers, electronics manufacturers and suppliers, ITAD companies, and the entire electronic waste recycling supply chain to come together to discover the latest innovations and solutions to create a circular economy and help create sustainable supply chains for the future.”

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9) International Conference on Oceanography and Climate Change — New York, NY, USA

“International Conference on Oceanography and Climate Change aims to bring together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Oceanography and Climate Change. It also provides a premier interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns as well as practical challenges encountered and solutions adopted in the fields of Oceanography and Climate Change.”

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10) 7th International Conference on Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change — Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

A conference focused on exploring environmental sustainability issues and solutions.

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7 networking event tips

Conferences present unparalleled networking potential. Maximize them with these tips:  

Set clear goals first. What do you hope to get out of this conference? A new job? Project collaborators? Identify your targets based on what you’re hoping to achieve.

Research attendees and speakers ahead: Parse bios, topics, and social media. Strategize who to meet.

Craft your elevator pitch: When introducing yourself, you’ll want to concisely cover your background, aims, and hoped-for takeaways. Keep it conversational.  

Leverage social media: Use event hashtags to join pre-conference buzz. Post insights and spark engagement.

Bring digital business cards: Your business card should include your name, title, and contact information. You can either print traditional paper business cards, or use apps that share your info seamlessly via text/email.

Ask for additional connections: As you network with attendees, you’ll want to make sure you never run out of people to talk to next. Asking for other people's names — especially those whose background aligns with your interests — is a good way to point you in new directions.

Follow up promptly: Once you’ve received someone’s contact information, make sure you don’t lose that steam. Follow up quickly by referencing your meeting to jog their memory. Continue the conversation over coffee or email.

Launch your sustainability career

If you want to begin your career in sustainability, there are a few things you’ll need:

  • Know your “why.” Which issues and industries are important to you in the sustainability field? Going to conferences can help you figure out what brings you joy, and what skills and degrees you’ll need to bring your career to life.
  • Gain vital hands-on experience through immersive learning. Although anyone can be inspired to advocate for sustainability, a strong background in your chosen sector allows you to make the biggest impact.

Inspired to start?

Even if conferences aren’t your thing, there are other ways to find out how you can break into the sustainability industry. At schools like Bard College, there are so many different programs to enroll in that have sustainability baked-in, not bolted-on. 

Whether you enroll in a program to break into the environmental education sector, or want to lead companies with a sustainable business model — your path matters, and so does your education. 

Take our Sustainability Focus Career Quiz to discover your passion's path and become a true champion for positive impact. 

Take the Quiz

And, if you’re looking for a more personal introduction to careers in sustainability, you can join our Director of Graduate Programs in Sustainability, Dr. Eban Goodstein, to learn how to leverage your work experience into advancing your purpose-driven career

Watch the Webinar

About the Author

Katie Boyle

Katie Boyle

Katie Boyle is the Enrollment and Marketing Director for the Bard MBA in Sustainability program and Bard Center for Environmental Policy. In this role, she oversees the marketing and brand management for The Impact Report podcast. She also manages recruiting, admissions, and enrollment for both programs as well marketing and advertising campaigns.