Profession / Affiliation
Head of European Network, PRI Principles for Responsible Investment
Independent Consultant, and PRI Principles for Responsible Investment
Dustin works part time as Head of European Network for PRI Principles for Responsible Investment. He is responsible for engaging with and supporting European signatories in their RI and ESG practice and implementation, and fostering the development of the PRI European Network. Dustin also works as independent consultant on finance sector and sustainability, business strategies, risk management and implementation. He has more than 12 years of experience in sustainable finance, responsible investment and banking and ESG integration gained through his positions as Director at corporate and investment bank WestLB and Senior Advisor to think tank and lobby NGO Germanwatch. Dustin developed and implemented first of its kind ESG approaches on business activities related to coal-fired power generation and on offshore oil drilling and production including the Arctic as well as on stakeholder dialogues. He holds a Masters of Art degree in Political Science, German Philology and Art History from the University of Cologne in Germany.
Sustainability in finance, including fundamental changes to business as usual and touching on alleged taboos, can and should be much more easily and effectively achievable than is generally accepted, but we shouldn’t be frightened by this. Current economic development is widely considered to be unsustainable, which results in a number of challenges for financial institutions as a whole and specifically within any transaction. Pace and quality incorporating sustainability considerations into decision-making in finance in order to answer these challenges is not nearly sufficient. The situation has reached a kind of gridlock: Despite the importance of the underlying facts and concepts and the urgency for adequate ad-justments, there is a ongoing debate about exact definitions, the likelihood of cer-tain developments and about who is responsible for what.. The resulting uncertain-ty and specific obstacles are often perceived as or (mis)used as an argument for restraint or opposition; as a result there is a lot of awareness but only little and slow move towards sustainable finance. On the other hand, what is often not seen, or what is not want to be seen, the wide field of sustainable finance debate and considerations paves the way for a confident and decisive move to incorporate sustainability extensively into finance since it offers a number of modifications and alternatives to business as usual. This move is just possible and appropriate; it is more a question of financial institutions’ self-concept and the underlying mind-set. Determinedly navigating a way through the maze leads to innovation, devel-opment and mutual benefit for all parties involved. How to successfully break new ground and how to overcome the gridlock is exemplified in this article by looking at how sustainability management was developed and implemented at the corpo-rate and investment bank WestLB between the years 2004 and 2012. From WestLB’s approach, key elements of sustainable finance are deduced including an elaboration of the question of sustainable finance as a matter of mindset. The ex-amples given include a far-reaching stakeholder dialogue, a first of its kind of business strategy in coal-fired power generation, and one in offshore oil drilling and production including in the Arctic.