Paul Hawken

Executive Director

Paul Hawken is one of the environmental movement’s leading voices, and has authored best-selling books on environmental movements and the impacts of commerce on living systems, founded successful, ecologically-conscious businesses, and consulted with heads of state and CEOs on economic development, industrial ecology, and environmental policy. Paul is one of the pioneering proponents of corporate reform with respect to ecological practices, one of the themes on which he often focuses in his writing. 

Paul is the founder and Executive Director for Project Drawdown, a non-profit that describes when and how climate change can be reversed. The organization maps and models the scaling of one hundred substantive technological, social, and ecological solutions to climate change. These solutions already exist, and are all “no regrets” initiatives; they improve people’s lives, create jobs, restore the environment, enhance security, generate resilience, and advance human health. The outcome of this research will be published and widely available through a book, an open-source database, and an interactive digital platform. 

Paul has appeared in numerous media including the Today Show, Larry King, Talk of the Nation, Charlie Rose, and has been profiled or featured in hundreds of articles including the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Washington Post, Business Week, Esquire, and US News and World Report. His writings have appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Resurgence, New Statesman, Inc, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Mother Jones, Utne Reader, Orion, and many other publications. 

Paul authors articles, op-eds, and peer-reviewed papers, and has written seven books including four national bestsellers: The Next Economy (Ballantine 1983), Growing a Business (Simon and Schuster 1987), and The Ecology of Commerce (HarperCollins 1993) and Blessed Unrest (Viking, 2007). The Ecology of Commerce was voted as the #1 college text on business and the environment by professors in 67 business schools. Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (Little Brown, September 1999) co-authored with Amory Lovins, has been read and referred to by several heads of state including President Bill Clinton who called it one of the five most important books in the world today. His books have been published in over 50 countries in 28 languages. Growing a Business became the basis of a 17-part PBS series, which he hosted and produced. The program, which explored the challenges and pitfalls of starting and operating socially responsive companies, was shown on television in 115 countries and reached more than 100 million people. Paul is currently editing Drawdown in collaboration with Project Drawdown, its research team, and many others. He is also authoring a book entitled Carbon, The Business of Life, to be published by Penguin Random House. 

Paul has founded several companies, starting in the 1960s with Erewhon Trading Company, one of the first natural food companies in the U.S. that relied solely on sustainable agricultural methods. He went on in 1979 to co-found Smith & Hawken, the retail and catalog company, and in 1995 started Datafusion, a knowledge synthesis software company. In 2009 Paul founded OneSun, an energy company focused on ultra low-cost solar based on green chemistry and biomimicry. 

In 1965, Paul worked with Martin Luther King Jr.’s staff in Selma, Alabama prior to the historic March on Montgomery. As press coordinator, Paul registered members of the press, issued credentials, gave dozens of updates and interviews on national radio, and acted as marshal for the final march. That same year, he worked in New Orleans as a staff photographer for the Congress of Racial Equality, focusing on voter registration drives in Bogalusa, Louisiana and the panhandle of Florida, and photographing the Klan in Meridian, Mississippi, after three civil rights workers were tortured and killed. In Meridian, he was assaulted and seized by Ku Klux Klan members, but escaped due to FBI surveillance and intervention. Paul has spoken, conducted research, and traveled extensively throughout the world, undertaking journeys into insurgent-held territories of Burma to research tropical teak deforestation, as well as a 1999 humanitarian/photojournalistic trek to war-torn Kosovo and Macedonia.

As a speaker, Paul has given keynote addresses to the Liberal Party of Canada, the King of Sweden at his inaugural Environmental Seminar, American Bookseller’s Association, Urban Land Institute, SRI International, Harvard University, Stanford University, the Wharton School, Cornell University, Prime Minister of New Zealand’s Conference on Natural Capitalism, U.S. Department of Commerce, Australian Business Council, Yale University and Yale University Commencement, University of California, Berkeley Commencement, France’s Ministry of Agriculture, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Prince of Wales Conference on Business and the Environment—Cambridge University, Commonwealth Club, Herman Miller, National Wildlife Federation, State of Washington, American Society of Landscape Architects, American Institute of Architects, American Institute of Graphic Arts, American Solar Energy Association, Apple, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Cleveland City Club, Conference Board, U.S. Forest Service, Ontario Hydro, Environment Canada, EPA, and several hundred others. PBS named his 2009 commencement speech at the University of Portland the best commencement speech of the year.

Paul has served on the board of many environmental organizations including Point Foundation (publisher of the Whole Earth Catalogs), Center for Plant Conservation, Conservation International, Trust for Public Land, Friends of the Earth, and National Audubon Society. He has received numerous awards and recognitions, including: Green Cross Millennium Award for Individual Environmental Leadership presented by Mikhail Gorbachev in 2003; World Council for Corporate Governance in 2002; Small Business Administration “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 1990; Utne “One Hundred Visionaries who could Change our Lives” in 1995; Western Publications Association “Maggie” award for “Natural Capitalism” as the best Signed Editorial/Essay” in 1997; Creative Visionary Award by the International Society of Industrial Design; Design in Business Award for environmental responsibility by the American Center for Design; Council on Economic Priorities’ 1990 Corporate Conscience Award; Metropolitan Magazine Editorial Award for the 100 best people, products and ideas that shape our lives; the Cine Golden Eagle award in video for the PBS program “Marketing” from Growing a Business; California Institute of Integral Studies Award “For Ongoing Humanitarian Contributions to the Bay Area Communities”; Esquire Magazine award for the best 100 People of a Generation (1984). In 2014 he was named one of the three Pioneers of Sustainability along with Professors Peter Senge and Michael Porter.

Paul has received six honorary doctorates.