A Journey to Sustainable Finance

How an ecologist ended up on Wall Street
Feb 20, 2020 6:05 AM ET

by Suzanna Buck, Senior Impact Investment Associate at Domini Impact Investments (named to the 30 Under 30 list at The SRI Conference in Nov 2019) 

I might be the only ecologist on Wall Street, but I don’t mind. It’s exactly where I want to be: after a winding journey through field research, advocacy, and legal work, I believe changing the financial system may be the most effective solution to climate change.

I’ve always felt a duty to devote my life and career to solutions to climate change: everything I value is exposed as terribly fragile by this unprecedented threat. What good is a well-funded retirement in a world of extreme inequality and climate disaster? After searching for solutions from personal action to ecology, I now believe the answer is to change the paradigm of the investment community, so that it supports its own sustainability by combating climate change.

I became an ecologist, studying how Lyme disease affects its hosts. Then I went to Argentina, working to equip communities with the tools they needed to advocate for themselves by using UN human rights principles to curtail encroachments by hydraulic fracturing companies. I helped take on ExxonMobil. After a grueling appellate battle, we won the largest ever award in a Clean Air Act citizen suit. The penalty, however, was less than $20 million. I was forced to realize I was thinking too narrowly. To take on the enormity of climate change, our economic systems had to be changed more dramatically than I had imagined. A $20 million fine doesn’t alter Exxon’s single-minded focus on short-term profits. How could we fix the system that encouraged this folly? 

At Domini Impact Investments, I have had the chance to confront that foundational dogma of modern finance. When I joined the firm, they were attempting to understand and confront the macro risks that threatened our portfolios, from inequality to climate change. Entranced by the potential of this big-picture thinking, which proposed using systems-thinking tools to act on the root causes of macro risks, I jumped at the chance to work on the initiative and learn. . 

Read Suzanna's full article at- https://greenmoney.com/a-journey-to-sustainable-finance 


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