President Barack Obama kicked-off the 2019 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia. President Obama joined Mehesh Ramanujam, President and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council, for an hour-long moderated conversation about sustainability in the built environment, the direct link between climate change and global economic inequality, and the importance of leadership in shaping a sustainable agenda.


Highlights from President Obama’s conversation with Mahesh included the following:

  • The direct connection between climate change and global economic inequality: After being asked what he believes to be the “most compelling issue in the world today,” President Obama responded by citing that two “directly connected” issues top his list – “climate change” and “global economic inequality.” He went on to say, “The reason I say those two things are connected is that it is hard to figure out how we solve sustainability issues and deal with climate change if you also have huge gaps in wealth and opportunity and education... Because what happens — and we’re seeing this around the globe — is that as wealth gets more and more concentrated and more and more energy is used up by the few, the many become resentful and it undermines our sense of politics and a sense of community. It is hard for us then to mobilize the body politic around taking collective action.”
  • On how parenting has shaped the way he leads: “Parenting takes you outside of yourself … It reminds you that ultimately what is most important is what you are contributing… It humbles you, people don’t listen to you, you have to come up with new strategies to get things done.”