Posted in GreenBiz
March 30, 2022

Why nurturing the GreenFin community can be eventful


Reprinted from GreenFin Weekly, a free newsletter. Subscribe here.

What does it take to build a two-day event on ESG and sustainable finance for a growing community of investors, corporations and financial institutions? I’m deep into answering that question. My sandbox: The upcoming GreenFin conference.

Reimagining and refashioning capitalism to realize a sustainable and just economy is a daunting but absolutely necessary project. If you work in the ESG space, that is really the project you’re furthering day in and day out, regardless whether you think of your work at that scale. GreenFin exists to support you in that mission.

In our pursuit to facilitate companionship (“com” + “panis” = “with bread,” for you Anglo-French fans) within the growing GreenFin community, we’re curating conversations that we think best capture the zeitgeist of the space — its present and near-term future — during what has shaped up to be a powerful and pivotal year for ESG.

The initial GreenFin 22 program went live last week and many hundreds of you have requested to join this invitation-only event. So, I thought this a good moment to share a bit with you about how we’re building this convening.

Imagine sitting down to an empty screen and listing the most critical themes and topics shaping ESG in 2022: concerns around greenwashing, on the reliability of ESG data, the dearth of ESG expertise on corporate boards, the ongoing ESG talent war, the digitization and decentralization of finance — you know the drill.

Imagine sitting down to an empty screen and listing the most critical themes and topics shaping ESG in 2022.

You may feel that by the time you reach item No. 24 that you’re not even halfway through the list of possible topics. With only 24 breakout sessions to work with across two days, it’s a fascinating challenge to home in on what, exactly, the community wants and needs to delve into.

To be clear, it’s a good problem to have, an indication of how much ESG and sustainable finance are spreading their wings, touching more parts of business and the economy. But that doesn’t make it any easier to limit the topics we’ll be offering in June: A “good problem to have” is still a problem.

As GreenBiz Chairman Joel Makower and I have separately covered, the war for ESG talent is intense and ongoing. It has rapidly expanded the field consider, for example, PwC adding 100,000 net new jobs in ESG by 2026. And attracting and retaining ESG talent is only one smallish corner of the landscape.

Stepping up to the bar

Another challenge is where to set the bar — at the level that the many recent entrants into the field can grasp, which risks alienating those of you who’ve been there and done that, or at a more advanced level, which risks alienating the newbies? The search for a middle ground — or, more precisely, a mix of both the introductory and the advanced — is another creative tension point.

Now, the most difficult task: whose work specifically to elevate?

GreenFin boasts a proverbial alphabet soup of valued partners — CDP, VRF, Ceres, RMI, WBCSD, SBTi and others — plus sponsors and other partners who make the convening possible. We need to make room for many of these valued players.

All those tensions aside, the program is shaping up nicely. Among the dozens of confirmed speakers: State Street CEO Ron O’Hanley; Karen Fang, head of sustainable finance at Bank of America; Aniket Shah, who heads ESG research at Jefferies; and Bérénice Lasfargues, ESG analyst and SDG lead at BNP Paribas Asset Management. We’re adding new speakers weekly; you can view the full list here.

With just about three months to go until we kick off the event at Pier Sixty in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, we will be doubling down on finding the best mix of voices, especially those that have not traditionally been handed the mic, to share their stories and insights.

I look forward to seeing you at GreenFin and to helping ensure that the GreenFin community is ready to take on all that’s yet to come.

Speaking of which: The Best Rate for GreenFin 22 expires this Friday, April 1 (no fooling). Save 15 percent off by using the discount code: GF22NL. Request an invite here.

March 30, 2022 at 03:13PM

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