Dragonair Silkroad “United Front: Three innovators are showing how big business and environmentalism
A graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Liu wasn’t immediately able to reconcile her business skills with her environmental zeal. after university she worked for a series of venture capitalists in the United States and china, but in april 2006 her work took a greener turn.
“It started at the MIT forum in Shanghai,” she says. “The new president had said that during her administration she wanted to focus MIT on life sciences and energy so I came up with this idea for the first world-class venture conference on clean technology in china. With my background in Silicon Valley I knew venture captialists from both sides to invite as speakers.”
Back in Los Altos, California, Liu had been involved with issues that affected her neighbourhood, such as buying land tracts to prevent development, but this was on a different scale. “Unbeknown to me at the time it was the first public dialogue between US and chinese officials on energy,” she says.
Discussions started with some of the world’s best environmental strategists and scientists and high-ranking officials from china and the US. Liu convinced experts from management consultants McKinsey to donate six weeks to the event.
“Basically we said, where can we have most impact in the shortest time, to show success, create momentum; not a major infrastructure project. It needed to be fresh, non-technological.”
JUCCCE is now in its third year. Its programmes include working on the energy efficiency of the national grid and training mayors across the country in environmental planning. another will give out 10 million energy-efficient lightbulbs in exchange for their incandescent ones – the equivalent in emissions of providing power to approxi- mately 525,000 US households over one year.
“This stuff is influencing the next generation of leaders,” says Liu. “We have the heart of an NGO [non-govern- mental organisation] but we operate like a multinational corporation. Most of our financing comes from corporations because we’re creating their market for them. We’re helping them go green while making green.”