Over the past two days, leading politicians, investors, financiers, and academics converged in Washington, DC for the 13th biennial UNEP Financial Initiative Roundtable. The event was entitled, “The Tipping Point: Sustained Stability in the Next Economy” and focused on what is being done, and what can be done, to promote financial and environmental sustainability in our currently unstable economic climate.
Discussion topics such as, “Investing in Green Employment: Strategy Behind Green Jobs Initiatives,” and “Energy Efficiency Financing: Hidden Assets of the Built Environment,” reveal that the future of finance and investment is inextricably tied to environmental sustainability. The discussions convey a new assumption: the path to economic sustainability is painted green. The question then, is, “how do we move forward?” The roundtables were designed to answer just that. And over the course of two days, leading sustainability professionals proposed solutions from blending the discourse on job creation and environmental policy, to financing small firms that promote sustainability in major cities.
In addition to roundtables, the event featured a number of notable speakers. Ex-UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, and Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable all shared their experiences dealing with financial and economic sustainability.
The UNEP Financial Initiative Roundtable comes at a momentous time for global politics. Millions of people from all walks of life have taken to the streets of the world’s major cities to protest the excesses of government and corporate greed. A familiar slogan heard among the protestors is “Where are our jobs?” A number of talks at the UNEP summit dealt specifically with that question, building the case for linking economic development to sustainability practices. There is demand for environmental innovation and for jobs. The green industry is where the two shall meet.