The Bard MBA in Sustainability program hosted Cary Krosinsky and Stephen Viederman of the Network for Sustainable Markets in New York City last night for a conversation titled, “Getting Investors Engaged in Sustainability”. Krosinsky is the Executive Director of NSFM and teaches Sustainability & Investing at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. He co-authored the book Sustainable Investing: The Art of Long Term Performance with Nick Robbins, HSBC’s Head of Climate Change. Viederman is a Director at NSFM and on the board of the Christopher Reynolds Foundation.
Dr. Eban Goodstein, Director of the Bard MBA in Sustainability, introduced the pair and spoke about the opportunities and tests investors face in helping to decide the direction and future of sustainable businesses.
“It’s a big challenge. We are living in truly extraordinary times. That’s why we started the MBA in Sustainability last fall. It didn’t exist twenty years ago. How do you build a new organization that profits financially in an environmental way?” said Goodstein.
Krosinsky discusses these topics in his most recent book which examines 15 case studies and aims to lead investors to create positive approaches to sustainability opposed to finger-pointing approaches.
“We need to be honest about where we are in the field [of sustainability]. We have a long way to go,” said Krosinsky.
The total value of global equity, according to a recent article written by Krosinsky and Viederman, is $65 trillion dollars. Only $400 billion dollars, however, is being used into positive social and environmental approaches.
Krosinsky defines a positive approach as investing in companies that are going to have the best chance of solving these problems in the future. A negative approach is simply not investing in certain sectors because of how those particular investments could impact society in a non-sustainable way.
“I don’t think it’s useful to point fingers. I think it is useful to be positive. Helping to define an approach that is positive can help lead us out of the status quo. We are trying to build a bridge for the next generation. How do we get from here to there? This field [of sustainability] has been about trying to define what is possible,” said Krosinsky.
Viederman’s tactic in engaging investors differed slightly from his partner’s. He argues that having a strong definition of financial analysis is a necessity in planning and embracing future risk factors such as climate change, resource scarcity and obesity and that investors should adjust their funds accordingly.
“Climate is an issue. How do we see it as a risk and a set of opportunities?” said Viederman, “Why aren’t investors getting it? As investors, we talk amongst ourselves. We are not talking to people who can illuminate issues such as this.”
This is why, as both Krosinsky and Viederman point out, the work of future business leaders, such as the ones being trained in the Bard MBA in Sustainability program, is crucial to the success of sustainability.
“Sustainability needs to be fully integrated [into businesses]. There is a growing concern and resource constraint warnings and there are questions about what we are going to do,” said Krosinsky, “Match your values to your investments.”
Viederman suggests that looking forward and investing in future generations is critical for the success of sustainability.
“You can invest in a green portfolio,” said Viederman, “Most investing is backward looking. We can’t prove the future, but these issues are going to change the investment future. The corporations that think about these issues will do better in the long run.”
Both Krosinsky and Viederman pointed out that it is difficult to fully divest from any sectors, but bringing important social and environmental issues to light and developing forward looking conversations will help investors in the long run.
“Put money into the future. Invest your money into the next generation. It’s hard to divest into any sector. Oil companies could be a part of the future [of sustainability],” said Viederman, “I want to leave a sustainable world for my grandchildren.”Posted on 6 March 2013 | 4:08 pm
The New York Times featured the Bard MBA in Sustainability on the Green Blog in January. New York Times writer Jim Witkin highlighted the growing demand for sustainability-focused MBA programs and illustrated how the Bard MBA in Sustainability will be one of the first programs on the East Coast to meet that demand. The post includes an insightful conversation with Director Eban Goodstein.
The article is reproduced here:
By Jim Witkin
As we noted in a post in August about a new survey, an increasing number of colleges are beginning to offer courses or entire programs devoted to green business practices in response to growing demand.
Such programs teach students how to manage a business’s social and environmental impact in addition to focusing on profits. The latest school to add its name to this list is Bard, the liberal arts college 90 miles north of New York City, which this month announced that it would begin offering an M.B.A. program centering on sustainability.
The two-year program will be based in New York City, and classes are to begin next fall. Eban Goodstein, the program’s director, said in an interview that the new M.B.A. would integrate sustainable business principles into the entire curriculum in a way that parallels programs offered by the Presidio Graduate School and the Bainbridge Graduate Institute on the West Coast.
In this format, classes meet over long weekend residencies once a month, five times a semester. During the semester, students are required to take part in online instruction between the residencies.
Requiring students in the program to meet in person just once a month should attract applicants, visiting faculty members and experts in sustainability from a wider geographic area, Dr. Goodstein hopes. That format should also support the program’s sustainability-themed curriculum, he said.
“We are taking advantage of the weekend structure to integrate classes around particular themes,” Dr. Goodstein said, “For example, classes on leadership, economics, accounting and sustainability will coalesce on different weekends around themes like ‘the new information landscape’ or ‘stakeholders and communication.’ ”
To gain real-world business experience, first-year students in the program will also participate in the NYCLab, a yearlong internship-style consultancy that involves working on projects with area businesses, government agencies and nonprofits.
Dr. Goodstein anticipates that many graduates will start their own green-minded businesses and that others will work for established companies as “intrapreneurs,” blending sustainability initiatives into every function of a business, including operations, marketing, finance and strategy.
Dr. Goodstein, who also teaches within the Bard Center for Environmental Policy, said he was motivated to start the M.B.A. program because some people embarking on a business career really do see themselves as “change agents” — individuals who “come to get an education so they can have an impact on the world.”
At the same time, solving environmental problems “has become more than just a policy issue,” he said. “Business is now a critical component of the solution.”Posted on 6 March 2013 | 6:45 am
The Guardian recently named Bard MBA in Sustainability faculty member Hunter Lovins a “Climate Change Abolitionist” and leader “fighting to abolish dangerous climate change”. Lovins is the president of Natural Capitalism Solutions (NCS). NCS educates senior decision makers in business, government, and civil society to restore and enhance natural and human capital while increasing prosperity and quality of life.
Also featured on the Guardian’s list is former vice president Al Gore, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in climate change activism, Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and environmentalist and 350.org founder, Bill McKibben.
Lovins teaches the “Foundations of Sustainable Business” course for the Bard MBA in Sustainability. Her focuses include natural capitalism, sustainable development, globalization, energy and resource policy, economic development, climate change, and land management.
For more on the “Climate Change Abolitionists”, read the Guardian article here.Posted on 1 March 2013 | 4:25 pm