Geeta Aiyer is founder and president of Boston Common Asset Management, a woman-led, employee-owned sustainable investment firm with nearly $5 billion in assets under management. The firm prioritizes investment in climate change mitigation, and uses shareholder engagement to push portfolio companies toward more sustainable business practices.
What sustainability effort do you hope will gain popularity with the general public this year, and why?
I hope the efforts to address and reverse biodiversity loss and invest in earth renewal gain traction. Ecosystems across the world are on the brink of collapse and millions of plant and animal species are at risk, including humans. Our global food supply, access to fresh water, battery development for electric vehicles, and AI technologies that depend on rare earth minerals—these are just a few of the many components comprising the near-term existential risks to businesses, the economy, society, and human health. Protecting, restoring, and enhancing biodiversity is also essential to climate change mitigation and adaptation as the stability of the climate and the road to net zero depend on the countless global ecosystems that act as tremendous carbon sinks. Companies have within their power the ability to reverse nature loss by promoting ecosystem resilience, significantly reducing deforestation, and advancing more sustainable methods of production and patterns of consumption.
What is the single most important action you think the public, or a specific company or government, needs to take in the next year to advance the climate agenda?
Broad government and corporate action are necessary to advance the climate agenda. For too
long, responsibility for climate stewardship has been placed in the hands of individual people
who are given limited choices, dictated mostly by what is legislated—or not—and what is most financially profitable in the near term. The most impactful action will come from government legislation that guides corporate policy and holds companies accountable for their impact on the climate and environment. Governments can start by adopting and following through on commitments to the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework set out at [the 2022 U.N. biodiversity conference] COP15, the most ambitious global agreement to reverse nature loss and ensure ecosystem resilience to-date. The public’s role is to demand that lawmakers support legislation that urgently addresses these critical systemic issues.
Where should climate activism go in the next year?
Too often overlooked in the battle to address the climate crisis is the serious need for stricter policies around the respect for human rights. Climate change, biodiversity loss, and the ecological destruction caused by deforestation disproportionately impact under-resourced communities and communities of color. Meanwhile, protecting, restoring, and enhancing biodiversity provides social, economic, and environmental benefits to all communities and ecosystems. Activists must keep human rights front and center in the fight to protect our planet. We must advocate for government action and policy change. We must create the impetus for investing in solutions, and the deterrents for maintaining the status quo. Climate change is not an abstract threat impacting others sometime in the future. It is happening to us here and now. Let us act with appropriate urgency.
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