If I Had A Trillion Dollars

Unlike a bank, I would finance interspecies, intercultural, and intergenerational councils for the restoration of ecosystems

B. Lorraine Smith


After reviewing where a lot of capital flows for a Matereality assessment on TD Bank, I remembered the billion dollar budget I created a while ago. Here I refresh it, moving the decimal and mindset a few notches over.

When constipated capital flows

My friend Nick Parker asked me a few years back what I would do if someone handed me a billion dollars. Coming from the coiner of the term “cleantech” — and someone who has seen a few billions flowing — his question got me thinking. He pointed out, “There is plenty of capital out there, it’s just constipated.” In response, I drew up a little budget, imagining what I would do if a billion dollars got pooped on me.

Back then I was learning about regenerative agriculture, carbon sequestration, etc. so a lot of my imaginary budget went in that direction. I was also involved in a big climate action mapping exercise, and I had this sense that if we could just map everything, and then pay a lot to scale solutions, we’d be fine.

Since then I’ve learned a few things. I’ve dug deeper into the context of the Global South and the legacy of colonization. I’ve been exploring the human and non-human impacts of monoculture agriculture. I’ve seen a range of “sustainable finance” initiatives up close. And — perhaps most critically of all — I’ve noticed that this tendency to “map everything” and then to throw money at “scaling solutions” without understanding what created the problems to begin with is part of the problem. I now realize that as long as corporate sustainability is nested within the construct that perpetuates — and benefits from — the harm, we are complicit and not solving a thing.

In parallel to these realizations, I’ve had a hand in a lot of environmental, social and governance (ESG) work.

So now I find myself revisiting Nick’s question, moving the decimal point over a few notches on both the dollar value and my own mindset to see the opportunities anew.

Time for a bigger, better budget

This budget revisit was prompted by a Matereality assessment on TD Bank I recently conducted. The assessment is part of an adventure I’ve set out on, to explore what’s needed to shift to an economy that meets human needs by healing and…



B. Lorraine Smith

Former sustainability consultant replacing ESG with reality-based insights about corporate purpose and impact. https://www.blorrainesmith.com/