The financial crisis, climate change, and a desire to have an impact have been key catalysts to increased interest in sustainability, says Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investing CEO Lisa Woll.
Jon Hale: Hi, I’m Jon Hale, director of sustainable investing research at Morningstar, and with me today is Lisa Woll, CEO of US SIF, the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investing, who is having their annual conference in Chicago this week.
Lisa Woll: Thanks, Jon. It’s great to be here, great to be at Morningstar, and great to be in Chicago.
Hale: Well, good to have you here. Tell us a little bit about the conference. What’s the main theme of the conference?
Woll: Well, the theme, which we chose probably about 10 months ago, is, a New Climate for Investing in Impact. And the idea of it was to talk about climate change as a primary issue, although not the only issue, as well as we knew we’d have a new administration. I don’t think we knew 10 months ago how apt the title would be in terms of the sort of tsunami of change that we anticipate may be coming, both on climate and on many other issues that we care about.
Hale: So, what would you say is the main impact so far of the new administration on the sustainable investing climate, I guess, you could call it?
Woll: So, I always think about that in two buckets, because when we put out our trends report last November, right after the election, and the first question I got from journalists is, what is the impact of this election? And the truth is, given the growth in sustainable or ESG assets over the last several years, I think no matter who is elected, we would have continued to see that growth. There’s just tremendous interest.
So, I don’t think that this administration will have a deleterious effect on it. In fact, I think it might have a positive effect on ESG investing because this administration will close off in many ways the federal government as a place to go for environmental and social…