How We Can All Help to Normalize Sustainability in Finance & Infrastructure

In January, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink released his annual letter addressed to the world’s influential chief executives. Rather than business as usual, he shed light on the edge the world of finance has been living on in regards to the climate crisis. In response, WeSpire CEO Susan Hunt Stevens called him “the Greta Thunberg of the finance world.” 

I completely agree that his letter is a perfect example of the leadership we need to make sustainably-minded decisions the new normal. I also see it as reinforcement of my belief that traditional infrastructure and capitalism are not problems. Lack of leadership and collaboration within these spaces is the problem. 

Let me explain.

After years of involvement in conventional projects at Nexus PMG, our intuition and observations drove us toward a more conscious mindset. We went all-in on infrastructure and started focusing on projects that lean on ESG project financing. Ultimately, we aligned our actions with our values. 

Once we put ourselves in this position, we started attracting like-minded people. I’m not talking about people from one side of the aisle or the other. I’m talking about people who have worked in oil, gas, power generation, textiles and other conventional infrastructure. Their experience is helping to build a cleaner future. 

I love asking people why they chose to join us. I’ve reflected on this on the Bigger Than Us podcast. The overall consensus is that people come to Nexus PMG for what we stand for and to apply their skills to what is both economically and environmentally sustainable. 

This is proof that you don’t have to choose between the environment and the economy. Jobs, financing and great minds are always in high demand. It’s time to cancel out the fear that going green means less commerce, less energy, and less consumption. Let’s talk more about recycling, the companies doing good, and the massive opportunity we have to do right by future generations. Vert Asset Management CEO Sam Adams does a great job of explaining how capitalism can help the world operate more sustainably in his Bigger Than Us interview. 

While BlackRock faces criticism of the “too little, too late” variety, we can’t get discouraged by the past or even the present. Larry acknowledges, “Under any scenario, the energy transition will still take decades.” This is exactly why executives need to start building on the main pillar of sustainability now. We need to align with a culture that puts people first, something I highlight on the Innovate iPM podcast. Overall, I’m excited to see how conversations in boardrooms change and witness the wave of collaboration that follows. 

Of course, Larry Fink wouldn’t have risked “severe backlash” for nothing. His announcement was fueled by demand from shareholders and the millions who marched for action on climate change. Knowing my investment portfolio is centralized around Vanguard (who unlike BlackRock hasn’t joined the Climate Action 100), I contacted my financial manager and requested to change my portfolio. Being conscious of how I’m voting with my wallet is a part of my effort to be more sustainable. With BlackRock normalizing what has long been tip-toed around in the world of finance, impact investing could be the first step toward sustainability for others.

Let’s face the facts. We’re not going to stop producing waste. We’re not going to end consumerism. But we can all be what Korina Smith calls conscious global citizens by investing our dollars in the change we need to see. This is true in every aspect from a company’s values and investment strategy to individuals choosing sustainable brands and eating less meat. It’s everyday choices that shift the market. 

If you ever feel discouraged about your impact, know that the largest investment management corporation in the world—BlackRock—is listening. Know that Nexus PMG is listening. And know that your dollars are stacking up to tip the scales in the right direction.

Roshan Vani