Why “Building Back Better” Isn’t About Rebuilding, and Lessons We Should Take From it Before It Becomes Something New
Building Back Better been a theme in the sustainable finance field for some time in various forms, but in the age of COVID-19 it has taken on a whole new energy. So today on the Green 4th Podcast we are opening a dialogue on BBB, especially before the idea gets subsumed by other, more powerful trending issues in our collective experience. Now that a prominent US presidential campaign is using it as a slogan, it may be inevitable that the hyper-partisan politicization of this concept will start to distort the meaning of what this movement means to us – both inside the sustainable investment community and beyond. Today's talk is about how we can build impact into our personal and professional lives as we approach a new normal, and perhaps leverage a few approaches I’ve found useful in the sustainable investment world.
Welcome! This is the blog companion to my podcast and upcoming publications on the Green 4th.
In the entertainment industry, there is a concept called the “fourth wall” – an imaginary wall that exists between the actors and the audience, where the audience can see through the wall but the actors cannot. From time to time, that wall is broken through so the actor can speak directly with the audience, usually to help them get a better understanding of what’s going on. Think of a movie where the actor breaks with the story to speak to the camera, or a stage actor addressing the audience directly. Breaking the fourth wall has become more popular over time and helps the audience engage and understand what’s going on.
This got me thinking about how we have a similar concept in the sustainability world. We also have an imaginary wall – this time between the worlds of sustainability and business/investment that should not exist. This wall represents a barrier that has been created over decades by those within the sustainability industry that makes it more difficult – not easier - for businesspeople and investors to engage on sustainability issues. While life-changing sustainability issues like climate change and biodiversity loss continue to mount, people look on, expecting those behind the wall to deal with the issues, and sustainability experts continue to work diligently as if the public isn’t involved.
It’s time that this “fourth wall of sustainability” is broken through to engage the unengaged on the critical sustainability issues that affect – and will affect - us all. The Green 4th will examine how the industry created (often with the best of intentions) a “black box” specialist discipline that can only be addressed by sustainability specialists and ensuring that fewer people can engage on the critical issues that affect us all. This book will outline how this wall came to be, why it persists, and how we can erase it – taking back control of sustainability issues so we can all do take action.