Zero emission research and initiative

Zero Emissions Research & Initiatives (ZERI) is a global network of creative minds seeking solutions to global challenges. The common vision shared by members of the ZERI family is that we want to meet everyone’s basic needs with what is available locally. We embrace innovative business models that generate multiple benefits, increasing productivity while creating jobs.

The ZERI Foundation has been a network since 2001, serving as an antenna into the global economy by identifying the high-growth industries of the next decade. When there’s a crisis, many companies suffer, but some thrive. Which ones will be the job creators of the future? Which innovations will change business models? Which new business models are changing the rules of the game?

With contacts on four continents and nearly 200 projects over the past 20 years demonstrating where the opportunities lie, ZERI advises governments on which sectors to attract, companies on which market niches to focus on, and communities on how to ensure the continued development of social capital. We do this by screening – identifying all opportunities – sorting – narrowing them down to the ones everyone agrees on – and deciding whether to implement them. We have a deep ethical commitment to open source, because we believe that solutions for a better world cannot be converted into proprietary know-how protected by non-disclosure agreements.

The blue economy is ZERI’s philosophy in action.

The blue economy is one where the best for health and the environment is the cheapest, and where the necessities of life are free thanks to a local system of production and consumption that works with what you have.

Innovative business models” are capable of bringing competitive products and services to market, meeting basic needs while building social capital and enhancing the mindset of living in harmony with nature’s evolutionary path.

Competitiveness” is about harnessing and optimizing the innate virtues and values that bind untapped local potential – like a natural system, where seeds lie fallow to germinate with amazing vigor at the first rain, releasing joy and happiness when the conditions for a spirit-filled life are brought together in balance and harmony.

ZERI is one of the world’s most innovative think tanks, ranked 7th by the University of Pennsylvania.

The ZERI network is delighted to share a unique recognition it has received – totally unexpected. The University of Pennsylvania ranks the world’s think tanks. ZERI ranks in the world’s top 10 (#7) think tanks with the most innovative policy ideas/proposals. We’d like to thank everyone who challenged and inspired us. We have surpassed all the major German policy research institutes, we rank among the best in Asia and our friends at Development Alternatives (Ashok Khosla in India) are also well ranked. Congratulations Ashok! Our “zero emissions” philosophy, first introduced in 1991, is gaining in popularity, but more importantly, we’re gaining ground with hundreds of concrete initiatives. Our greatest influence is undoubtedly the distribution of millions of fables in dozens of languages to children all over the world, particularly in China. This is the biggest long-term political initiative ever undertaken

The beginning of the adventure

In 1992, as CEO of Ecover, I built the first zero-emission factory (for soaps) in wood. The facility was also used as a theater. Reed beds and a grass roof treated the wastewater. Staff were dressed in Patagonia to reduce workshop heating. Our profits funded whale research. I was devastated to learn a year later that I was using palm oil that was destroying tropical forests. So I was green, but not sustainable! In 1994, I created ZERI (Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives), initially based at the United Nations University in Tokyo, as a network of 3,000 scientists seeking pragmatic solutions to poverty, climate change and competitiveness

Check out these archive images from the early days of ZERI

Thanks to the orangutans, Gunter decided to be part of the change.