William McDonough Talks Design and Sustainability at KSLI Executive Leaders Program 2024

Earlier this month, William McDonough, globally recognized leader in sustainable design and development, led a talk as part of the KSLI (KAUST Saudi Leadership Institute) annual Executive Leaders Program. The talk, titled ‘Nature Doesn’t Have a Design Problem. People Do’ touched on several of McDonough’s key themes, including: the role of leadership, ethics, and the concept of regeneration. 

On leadership, McDonough gave a fresh perspective of the role’s relationship to nature: “But I think leadership is when people get inspired and share the same goals, but leaders have to be followers. Nature is key to this. So, I think leaders have to be followers, the laws of nature and human nature as well.”  

On the topic of ethics and producing value, McDonough advises to start with evaluating what is good and bad. “As a designer, I find that if I start with my values–what I believe is good and bad, then principles, and eventually tactics and metrics,” says McDonough, “then we produce value so that we can make something that we can perpetuate as both useful and available to many people.”

McDonough also discussed how regeneration takes place in nature, asking the audience to consider: “What if we move things from being degenerative, to a regenerative and circular economy by following the laws of nature?”

About KSLI Leaders: With a vision to be a catalyst for the Kingdom’s growth and transformation, the KSLI Leaders Program aims to empower people to help build a sustainable future through thought leadership, engagement programs and more. McDonough is also a Distinguished Research Professor at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) focused on the Circular Carbon Economy.

To learn more about the KSLI Leaders Program, click here.