Jeb Brugmann

About Jeb Brugmann

Jeb Brugmann, Founding Partner of The Next Practice, is a strategist and innovation expert in the fields of business and development, serving major corporations, local governments, and non-profit organizations worldwide. In addition to using a tested, disciplined innovation process developed with leading business thinker Prof. C.K. Prahalad, he focuses on innovation in market analytics, product development, and business modelling to increase local responsiveness and customization as a source of competitive advantage and global problem-solving. With professional experience in 28 countries, he has been a pioneer of new practice domains including urban sustainability and climate change mitigation, ‘base of the pyramid’ (BOP) business development for large low-income market segments, place-based development and social enterprise. In 1990, he founded ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, an international association of 1,200 cities and towns worldwide that are advancing practices in local sustainable development. He served as ICLEI Secretary General from 1991-2000, and as interim Executive Director of ICLEI USA in 2009. In 2004, he co-founded The Next Practice innovation consultancy with Prof. Prahalad. He is speaker to business, government, civic, and academic audiences worldwide and provides executive education as a Senior Associate with the University of Cambridge (UK) Programme for Sustainability Leadership. He has received a variety of distinctions and awards for his international initiatives and publications. His new book, Welcome to the Urban Revolution: How Cities Are Changing the World, was published in 2009.

Jeb has played a particularly pioneering role in three areas of “next practice”:

  • Urban sustainability. In the late 1980s and 1990s, Jeb understood that global urbanization had made cities the geographic “point sources” of global environmental problems. He pioneered the field of “urban sustainability,” founding ICLEI, the international environmental agency for local governments in 1990. Examples: He served as ICLEI secretary general from 1990-2000, establishing its global operations and presence in international policy forums. He led the international community’s adoption of the Local Agenda 21 initiative at the 1992 UN Earth Summit, precursor to the engagement of more than 6,500 cities and towns in 115 countries. In 1992-93 he co-founded the Cities for Climate Protection campaign, a global program that created the methods and supported hundreds of cities to prepare inventories and mitigation plans for their greenhouse gas emissions.
  • “Bottom of the Pyramid” business development. In 2004, Jeb joined renowned business strategist Prof. C.K. Prahalad in establishing The Next Practice and its innovation process for companies seeking to serve large low-income populations at the “bottom of the pyramid.” Examples: He helped bp develop the distribution and retail model for its smokeless biomass stove in rural India, as well as a safe fuel packaging and retailing solution for South African townships. He helped Thomson-Reuters develop their entry plan for a mobile phone-based weather, market pricing, and agricultural information service for small Indian farmers. Brugmann remains a thought leader and active practitioner in this field.
  • Global civil society organization. In the 1980s, during the latter years of the Cold War, Jeb pioneered new ways of organizing transnational cooperation between NGOs and cities internationally. Many of these approaches became civil society modus operandi in the 1990s. Examples: Brugmann responded to the legal marginalization and government harassment of war refugees in the United States by mobilizing scores of U.S. cities to become “Sanctuary Cities.” He developed a nationwide media presence speaking out against narrow-minded anti-immigrant sentiments. He also led establishment of one of the first officially-sanctioned channels for independent U.S.-Soviet civil society relationships in the Reagan-Gorbachev era. He mobilized sub-national governments internationally to protect Earth’s atmosphere through local laws, prodding chemical manufacturers to phase out CFCs and the U.S. government to ratify the UN Montreal Protocol.

Jeb’s work has been financially supported by the governments of Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, the European Union, Finland, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the UN Development Programme, UN Environment Programme, UN-Habitat, the World Bank, hundreds of municipalities, and numerous private foundations. His initiatives have received official praise from the UN General Assembly (1997), the UN Conference on Human Settlements (1996) and the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002). Brugmann’s leadership starting with worldwide Local Agenda 21 initiative won him the Millennium Award (2000) from the European Environment Agency/Princes’ Award Foundation and the Stockholm Partnerships Award (2002) from the City of Stockholm and King of Sweden.

Strategist and Innovation Consultant

Whether through executive leadership or consulting to client organizations, Jeb takes a unique “applied strategy” approach that designs, tests, and institutes the new models and solutions needed translate a client’s strategy into a ‘next’ body of practice in their organization and industry. His partners and clients have included national government agencies, major corporations, cities, United Nations programs, the World Bank, private foundations, and national and international NGOs.

Author and Researcher

Jeb is the author of Welcome to the Urban Revolution: How Cities Are Changing the World (2009), and a contributor to four books on urban sustainability. He has published in Harvard Business Review (winner of the 2007 McKinsey Award for best article) and other peer-reviewed academic journals. He established and was a regular contributor to an extensive series of case studies on urban management best practices. He is a longstanding editorial board member of the journal Local Environment.

Jeb’s work is analytics driven. He has been a principal researcher for multi-year, multi-country action research projects, including the Urban CO2 Reduction Project, a 12-city project to develop the methodology for urban greenhouse gas inventories and mitigation planning; and the Local Agenda 21 Model Communities Program, a 14-city project to develop methods for community-based sustainable development planning. In business practice, he specializes in providing clients with innovative ways to size and segment markets to increase their competitive advantage and operational efficiency. He also specializes in qualitative consumer research for BOP markets.

Teacher and Speaker

Jeb is a Senior Associate of the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership, and has lectured at other universities in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Brazil, and Australia. His speaking career has taken him to 19 countries. Audiences have included: the IIT Institute of Design Strategy Conference; the Front End of Innovation USA Conference; the CIES World Food Business Summit; the Australia Davos Connection; the Association of Management Consulting Firms, the World Bank; the Ministries of Environment of Colombia, Germany, Japan, Korea, and South Africa; the Oxford University Global Economic Governance Programme; the UN World Urban Forum; the World Water Forum.

Father, Outdoorsman, and Handyman

Jeb lives in Toronto with his partner, Saddeiqa, and two sons, Rashad and Kareem, where he operates the family ice hockey shuttle service. Growing up in a community where residents built and maintained their own water system, bridges, and community facilities, Jeb enjoys a periodic hands-on “fix” of construction and landscaping projects. When life permits, he enjoys long distance hiking, canoeing and cross-country skiing. He completed hiking the 2,000+ mile Appalachian Trail when he was 16 years old. With a family team including his son, brother and nephew, they competed successfully this year in their first (340 mile) adventure paddling marathon race.