Open main menu

Paul Gerard Hawken (born February 8, 1946) is an American environmentalist, entrepreneur, author, and activist.[2]

Paul Hawken
Hawken in 2018
Hawken in 2018
BornPaul Gerard Hawken[1]
(1946-02-08) February 8, 1946 (age 73)
San Mateo, California
OccupationAuthor, entrepreneur, activist
ResidenceSan Francisco Bay Area, U.S.
CitizenshipUnited States
GenreEcological business
SpouseJasmine Scalesciani Hawken



Hawken was born in San Mateo, California, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where his father worked at UC Berkeley in Library Sciences.[3] He attended UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University. Hawken's work includes founding ecological businesses, writing about impacts of commerce on living systems, and consulting with corporations and governments on economic development, industrial ecology, and environmental policy.[2]

Hawken is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Project Drawdown, a non-profit that describes how global warming can be reversed.[4]

Hawken was active in the Civil Rights Movement.[5] He currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Hawken has authored articles, op-eds, and peer-reviewed papers, and has written seven books, including: The Next Economy (Ballantine 1983), Growing a Business (Simon and Schuster 1987), The Ecology of Commerce (HarperCollins 1993), and Blessed Unrest (Viking 2007).[6]

The Ecology of Commerce was voted the #1 college text on business and the environment by professors in 67 business schools.[7] The businessman and environmentalist Ray Anderson of Interface, Inc. credited The Ecology of Commerce with his environmental awakening. He described reading it as a “spear in the chest experience,” after which Anderson started crisscrossing the country with a near-evangelical fervor, telling fellow executives about the need to reduce waste and carbon emissions.[8]

Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (Little Brown, September 1999), co-authored with Amory Lovins, popularized the now standard idea of natural capital and direct accounting for ecosystem services. It 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, stating "Natural Capitalism basically proves beyond any argument that there are presently available technologies, and those just on the horizon, which will permit us to get richer by cleaning, not by spoiling, the environment.[9]" 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".[10]

Blessed Unrest, How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming, published in May 2007, argues that a vast “movement with no name” is forming involving environmental, social justice, and indigenous rights organizations. He 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.[11]

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.[3]


Hawken's books have been published in more than 50 countries in 30 languages.[19]


Hawken founded several companies, starting when he took over a small retail store in Boston in 1967 called Erewhon (after Samuel Butler's 1872 utopian novel) and turned it into the Erewhon Trading Company, a natural-foods wholesaler, and one of the first in the US that relied solely on sustainable agricultural methods.[20] When he left the company in the 1970s, it had over 30,000 acres of organically grown food under contract. He co-founded the Smith & Hawken garden supply company in 1979, a retail and catalog business.[21] In 2009, Hawken founded OneSun, an energy company focused on ultra low-cost solar based on green chemistry and biomimicry.[22]

From 1994 to 1998, Hawken founded and headed up The Natural Step USA. From 1996 to 1998, Hawken was Co-chairman of The Natural Step International.[23] The Natural Step was founded in 1989 by Swedish scientist and medical doctor, Karl-Henrik Robèrt in order to create shared frameworks for understanding sustainable development. Its purpose is to teach and support environmental systems thinking in corporations, cities, governments, unions, and academic institutions through a dialogue process rooted in basic science.[24]

In 1998, Hawken created the Natural Capital Institute (NCI) located in Sausalito, California. Its main focus was, an open-source database of activists and civil society organizations focused on environmental and social justice.[25]

Hawken is currently the Executive Director of Project Drawdown which is working towards the drawdown of greenhouse gases to reduce climate change.[26]


In 1965, Hawken worked with Martin Luther King, Jr.'s staff in Selma, Alabama prior to the historic March on Montgomery. As press coordinator, he 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.[27]


Paul Hawken has been awarded six honorary doctorates,[28] and has received the Green Cross Millennium Award for Individual Environmental Leadership presented by Mikhail Gorbachev in 2003[29]


As a speaker, Hawken has given several hundred talks, including keynote addresses to major associations, companies, government agencies. His University commencement addresses have included:

  • University of California, Berkeley Commencement [28]
  • University of Portland 2009 commencement speech ("You Are Brilliant and the Earth Is Hiring") [30]
  • Urban Land Institute
  • Yale University and Yale University Commencement [28]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Epstein-Reeves, James; Weinreb, Ellen. "Pioneers of Sustainability: Lessons from the Trailblazers" (PDF). Weinreb Group. Weinreb Group. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b Makower, Joel (11 July 2013). "Why Paul Hawken is teaching MBAs". GreenBiz. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  4. ^ "Project Drawdown". Project Drawdown. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Paul Hawken Part II: Cultivating Progress". Sea Change. 11 November 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  6. ^ "Paul Hawken". Sustainable Brands. 2016. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Solutions Summit Event". Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  8. ^ Vitello, Paul (August 10, 2011). "Ray Anderson, Businessman Turned Environmentalist, Dies at 77". The New York Times.
  9. ^ Hawken, Paul (1997). Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution. Little Brown. ISBN 978-0-316-35300-7.
  10. ^ Gunther, Marc (22 October 2014). "First look: environmental entrepreneur Paul Hawken's long-awaited new book". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  11. ^ Hawken, Paul (2007). Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming. New York: Viking. ISBN 978-0-670-03852-7.
  12. ^ Hawken, Paul (2017). Drawdown: The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming / edited by Paul Hawken. New York, NY: Penguin Books. ISBN 9780143130444.
  13. ^ Hawken, Paul (2007). Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came Into Being, and Why No One Saw It Coming (1 ed.). New York, NY: Penguin Group. ISBN 978-0-67003852-7. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  14. ^ Hawken, Paul; Lovins, Amory; Lovins, L. Hunter (1999). Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution. New York, NY: The Hachette Book Group Publishing. ISBN 978-0-316-03153-0. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  15. ^ Hawken, Paul (1993). The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability. New York, NY: HarperCollinsPublishers. ISBN 0-88730-655-1. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  16. ^ Hawken, Paul (1987). Growing a Business. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0671-64457-4. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  17. ^ Hawken, Paul (1983). The Next Economy. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 9780207149313. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  18. ^ Hawken, Paul; Olgivy, James; Schwartz, Peter (1980). Seven Tomorrows. New York, NY: Bantam Books. ISBN 9780553014754. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  19. ^ "Paul Hawken" (Transition to a Low-Carbon World). University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  20. ^ "Heritage of Health Foods: Erewhon History". Attune Foods. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  21. ^ Welte, Jim (9 July 2009). "Smith & Hawken to close; going-out-of-business sales started Thursday". The Mercury News. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  22. ^ Gunther, Marc (11 February 2010). "Paul Hawken's Winning Investment Strategy". GreenBiz. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  23. ^ "Bio Paul Hawken" (PDF). The Rocky Mountain Institute.
  24. ^ "The Natural Step About Us". The Natural Step. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  25. ^ Grover, Sami (21 June 2007). "WISER Earth: User Created Directory of 'the Largest Movement on Earth'". Treehugger. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  26. ^ "Our Team". Project Drawdown. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  27. ^ Stephens, James C. Climate Change: An Encyclopedia of Science and History (Volume 1 ed.). p. 849.
  28. ^ a b c Contributor, EW. "Paul Hawken". EcoWatch. EcoWatch. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  29. ^ "Global Green USA Millennium Awards". Global Green. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  30. ^ Loeb, Paul. "Best Environmental Commencement Speech Ever?". The Huffington Post: The Blog. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 8 September 2016.

External linksEdit