As an enthusiastic young college student, I studied in the rainforests of Central America for two summers. I thought I would protect biodiversity there by growing up to be like the "brilliant, eccentric," long-haired research scientist Richard Campbell (Sean Connery) from the 1992 movie Medicine Man.
But after coming back to university, writing academic papers, and presenting at scientific conferences, I slowly realized that my path would be different.
But I had no idea that I'd later work in private equity, investment banking, and entrepreneurship as tools for "saving the world."
Government and NGO dollars are not sufficient to address the 1 million species that face extinction due, in part, to habitat destruction.
We need businesses and investors to play a role, too.
According to Credit Suisse and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment, $300 billion to $400 billion is required annually to protect ecosystems, but only $52 billion is provided each year, largely from government or charitable sources.
Their report explores examples of investors making commitments to protect biodiversity an ecosystems (e.g., Encourage Capital, The Forestland Group, Althelia Ecosphere’s Althelia Climate Fund), as well as challenges for mainstream investors, and ways to mitigate these risks (see table below).
Part of our jobs as Entrepreneurs for Impact is to help bring new investment and business opportunities with positive environmental impacts into the mainstream, where most of the investment capital and purchasing power lives.
For me, the opportunity I was trying to mainstream was green building about 16 years ago. Now the US Green Building Council certifies over 2.5 million square feet of LEED green buildings per day, on average. Then I moved onto solar power. Next my focus was energy storage and mobility. And now Bloomberg projects that 10 trillion will be invested in solar, wind, and batteries by 2050. Boom! So fun to be part of these movements.
Who knows what's next? In our Masterminds, we explore how other CEOs are finding and taking advantage of these emerging opportunities.