I recently had the opportunity to attend the CFA Society Boston’s Annual Sustainable Investing Conference, and it certainly lived up to its reputation for attracting some of the most knowledgeable experts in various areas of sustainable investing. Major topics covered this year included social impact, natural capital, DEI, electric vehicles, and carbon assets, with all the speakers and panelists showcasing their domain expertise.
From a professional standpoint, I found the discussions on natural capital particularly intriguing. This topic was a highlight of this year’s conference, with two entire sessions dedicated to it. In recent months, the biodiversity crisis, though still not as widely recognized as the climate crisis, has been gaining attention.
The first natural capital session served as an appetizer, introducing the audience to the basics of natural capital, including key concepts such as the natural capital balance sheet, stocks and flows, and ecosystem services. The panelists highlighted the momentum driving this burgeoning asset class and also addressed some of the main challenges, notably the lack of standardized metrics and consistent frameworks, as well as the uncertain environmental integrity of offsets and other mechanisms.
The second natural capital session provided corporate and investor perspectives from Dow, Inc. and leading natural capital investor Climate Asset Management. Speakers Carrie Houtman and Megan Reilly Cayten listed various business models in natural capital that demonstrated how corporate and investment managers can prudently allocate capital to achieve both financial returns and natural capital preservation, and even growth.
As a first-time attendee, I was thoroughly impressed by both the expertise and the quality of the discussions at the conference. It also provided an excellent opportunity to meet like-minded professionals, with several attendees coming to Boston not only from the US but also from Europe specifically for this event. Given the chance, I will certainly be back for next year's conference, hopefully as a natural capital expert myself!