If I Had A Trillion Dollars
Unlike a bank, I would finance interspecies, intercultural, and intergenerational councils for the restoration of ecosystems
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…