Paul Hawken

Hero of Sustainability

Paul Hawken is an American environmentalist, entrepreneur, economist, author, speaker and activist.


Hawken has authored articles and peer-reviewed papers, and seven books, including books on sustainable business including:

  • The Ecology of Commerce which was voted the #1 text on business and the environment by professors in 67 business schools.
  • Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, co-authored with Amory Lovins, wrote about the idea of natural capital and direct accounting for ecosystem services. Natural Capitalism has been translated into 14 other languages. Together with The Ecology of Commerce these books have been described as being “among the first to point the way towards a sustainable global economy”.
  • Growing a Business became the basis of a 17-part PBS series, which Hawken hosted and produced. The program, which explored the challenges and pitfalls of starting and operating socially responsible companies, appeared on television in 115 countries and reached more than 100 million people.

Hawken’s other books include:

  • Blessed Unrest, How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming, published in 2007, argues that a vast “movement with no name” is forming involving environmental, social justice, and indigenous rights organizations. Hawken conceives of this “movement” as developing not by ideology but rather through the identification of what is and is not humane, and has compared it to humanity’s collective immune system.[10]
  • Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation.

The self-owned and -operated business is the freest life in the world. – Paul Hawken

Paul Hawken’s businesses

Hawken has founded several companies including Erewhon Trading Company, a natural-foods wholesaler, Smith & Hawken a garden supply company in 1979, and OneSun, an energy company focused on ultra low-cost solar.

From 1994 to 1998, Hawken founded and led The Natural Step USA. From 1996 to 1998, Hawken was co-chairman of The Natural Step International. The Natural Step’s purpose is to teach and support environmental systems thinking in corporations, cities, governments, and other institutions through a process based on science.

In 1998, Hawken created the Natural Capital Institute (NCI); its key focus was, an open-source database of activists and civil society organisations focused on environmental and social justice.

We can no longer prosper by increasing human productivity. The more we try to do, the more poverty we will create. – Paul Hawken

Project Drawdown

Hawken created, was previously the Executive Director of, Project Drawdown in 2013 which is working towards the drawdown of greenhouse gases to reduce climate change. Hawken was the creator, author, and editor of Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, published in 2017. It was a collaboration involving 200 researchers and advisors who modelled the best and most substantial solutions to reverse global warming.


Hawken has given hundreds of talks, including keynote addresses to conferences, institutions, businesses and government agencies. His University commencement addresses have included this one to University of Portland class of 2009.

See Paul Hawken’s website here »