The Road to Sustainability is Paved with Greenbacks…and Euros…and Yen…

For readers that might have missed me over the last couple of months (Hi Mom), let me catch you up on where I have been: Finance class. Seven days a week, several hours a day. Exaggeration? Only a small one. True, I have come up for air a time or two (Thanksgiving for instance) but, for the most part, I have been fully immersed in the study of sustainable finance. From the Equator Principles, to the International Monetary Fund, to sustainable investing through the International Finance Corporation, I have had a crash course in all of it. Of course, our Graduate MBA class has studied the basics as well: capital budgets, the yin and yang of Wall Street, working capital, dividends, ratios and so forth and so on…you get the picture. Rest assured, I have gotten full ROI for my effort.

After all of this I have come to a couple of conclusions. First, financial calculators are one of the best inventions ever. Secondly, there is reason for optimism. The financial sector is taking an increasingly large role in transitioning our society towards a sustainable future. In the absence of strong policy, business and financial leaders are taking the lead for societal change. True, it is early and the long-term impacts or survival of this micro-revolution remain to be seen, but so far I am encouraged. As the money flows, Washington and consumers will go. Below are a few examples of those leading in the financial sector. Who should we add to the list? Am I foolish to be so encouraged?

  • Social Investment Forum:  U.S. nonprofit membership group for organizations engaged in sustainable investing 
  • Ceres: with over twenty years of experience leading the shift towards a more sustainable economy, Ceres works directly with investors and corporations to advance the principles of full cost accounting, transparency, sustainable reporting and more
  • CREF Social Choice Equity Fund : largest socially responsible investing fund in the US
  • Social Funds: website dedicated to personal finance and social investing
  • HSBC: excellent example of a bank aiming for long-term profitability through risk reduction and incorporation of social and environmental factors into lending and investment decisions
  • Kiva: facilitator of microfinance loans from lenders to recipients and back again; facilitated over $100 million of loans as of 2009
  • SAM:  investment group focused exclusively on sustainable investing

Want to learn more? Have something to contribute? Then please join Triple Pundit and other like minded optimists at Sustainatopia in Miami this spring. The 2nd Annual Social Venture Capital/Enterprise Conference will bring together over 1,000 leaders from 40+ countries. Film and lecture series will also be included. We’ll see you in Miami!

Leslie is a Sustainable MBA student at Green Mountain College. Study interests include sustainability, social responsibility and the power of corporate and non-profit partnerships to bring about positive change. Other areas of interest include social media, fundraising and public policy. She holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management and is certified in the Global Reporting initiative for Sustainability Reporting. Additionally, she holds an MA in Organizational Management and a BS in Leisure Management. On the rare occasions when she is not studying, she enjoys writing, reading, running, nature walks and yoga. She hopes to use her skills, talents and education to make a positive impact with an environmentally and socially conscious organization. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.