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The State of ESG and Sustainability


The State of ESG and Sustainability resource image

Join FigBytes Head of Sustainability, Kate Cacciatore, as she shares her thoughts and insights on the state of ESG and sustainability.

Don’t miss this brief chat on the present and future of the ESG and sustainability industry from the perspective of an experienced sustainability professional. This is a short excerpt from the full length webcast, Carbon & Beyond: A Discussion with Kate Cacciatore.

Rajiv JalimI’m curious, given what you’ve seen over time, given what’s happening in the sustainability and ESG space right now, what are what are some of the feelings that you have, the thoughts that you have with what’s going on in the ESG and sustainability world?
Rajiv JalimI mean, it’s blowing up, right? It’s it’s the hot topic everywhere you look.
Kate CacciatoreIt is. And I have to say, Rajiv, you know, I, I had already been really surprised how much things evolved since 2003, which was when I really started in my career in sustainability. And, you know, let’s say just even five years ago I had thought, wow, you know, when I got started, it was like you had to explain everything from scratch.
Kate CacciatorePeople didn’t even know what sustainability was in most cases. And so there was a steady I don’t know, I think of it like an increasing of the temperature of pressure, understanding, realization that this is important and actually it’s critical. And actually it’s here to stay. We better get used to this. And and, you know, those two years when I was focusing on, you know, getting a startup going and thinking about other things and coming back, I just like, oh, my God, you know, like what has happened here?
Kate CacciatoreIt really has exploded and accelerated in an incredible way. And a few reflections on my side on that are, well, I was thrilled because it’s like what I always hoped for and dreamed for in many ways that it would become mainstream to this extent. And I maybe I never dreamed that it would quite. But of course, you know, there are a lot of tensions in the way things are right now.
Kate CacciatoreSo you’ve got frankly, I think that even people like myself and others who’ve been in the sustainability space for a while are kind of overwhelmed and confused to some extent by, you know, all the frameworks and the standards setting in the legislation and the implications of that and all the information that’s flowing from every direction on ESG. And so taking me a while to reorient myself in that new world, I have to say, and yeah, I feel I’ve noticed that at least in the circles that I’ve been moving in.
Kate CacciatoreAnd of course, that’s more in Europe than in North America. I’ve noticed that there is this real focus now on impact … positive impact. When I was in the finance industry, impact investing was still considered more of a niche and much harder to achieve, and I think it is harder to achieve still in many ways. But what shifted in no uncertain terms from my perspective, is that now you’ve got mainstream actors who are looking at it, either whether they’re entrepreneurs or business owners, thinking more about how their businesses can and contribute to a positive social and environmental wellbeing and value creation, and for investors as well, looking for looking to support and finance all of
Kate Cacciatorethat positive impact, not forgetting that we still have a long way to go to reduce our negative impact on the world. Right. But this really caught my eye that everybody was talking about and wanting to hire people and focus their strategies in Europe at least and probably in other places in the world. On positive impact. That was unexpected for me, and I realize it’s not the case everywhere, but it was a significant shift in how things were just a couple of years before.
Kate CacciatoreAnd I would add to that, that on the other side of the coin, pain is still there. It’s it’s hard it’s hard to bring about change in an organization that’s part of a system and an economic system that’s been in place for the last hundred and 50 years. Or so.
Rajiv JalimSometimes it feels like one step forward, two steps backwards.
Kate CacciatoreYeah, exactly. Or sometimes it feels like you’re tinkering around the edges and making things look good and feel good and some improvements. But that, you know, and it’s what I had mentioned before that perhaps that on the fundamentals we haven’t shifted it so I’m, I’ve been through that pain myself for so many years of trying to bring about that change.
Kate CacciatoreAnd I know that, you know, so many of my fellow sustainability practitioners out there today are feeling that pain. And, you know, sometimes you can feel bewildered and lost and, you know, lacking in energy because it’s quite the focus on performance is still really strong. And so it’s easy to get overwhelmed and exhausted. So I don’t want to kind of give the impression that with everything that I’m saying about positive impact, that that’s it.
Kate CacciatoreYou know, we’ve we’ve waived the next one. But, you know, there is that there’s a kind of a dichotomy there, which I did pick up as well. In the conferences that I went to last week. So that’s that’s kind of where I’m feeling at the moment. And of course, we’ve seen the backlash to ESG and you know, there’s there’s a lot of debate going on at the moment, which quite put some quite polarized views.
Kate CacciatoreSo I’m kind of looking and reflecting on all of that and seeing what curious as to how things are going to evolve in this space. But I am I remain fundamentally optimistic. I don’t think we’ve ever been as well positioned as we are today to to to be closer to that. What I think of as a paradigm shift towards, you know, the world that we want to see.
Kate CacciatoreSo that’s really where I am today and still in a position of learning and coming back up to speed now.