ESG Assessments: Helpful, Harmful, or Irrelevant?

December 2021

Croatan Institute Senior Fellow Bill Harrington, with Gillian Marcelle, PhD of Resilience Capital Ventures, LLC, Daniel Cash, PhD of Aston University and Fulbright Scholar at NYU Stern, and Dr. Chantal Naidoo, PhD of University of Sussex and Rabia Transitions Initiative, leads a wide-ranging conversation on what is and is not effective in how ESG investing is used to make long lasting improvements to natural and social systems.

How can ESG practitioners help leaders and allies develop robust systems-in-use?

How can there be more focus on all the elements E, S and G?

With “G”, how might we instill governance in their respective entities that starts, not stops, at adhering to all applicable laws?

Advocates for ESG finance claim that it operates to sustain communities everywhere, most notably by funding projects that address climate change and mitigate its impact on social systems. However, widespread concern with “greenwashing” suggests the opposite, namely that ESG finance operates primarily to protect the status and earnings of financial practitioners. Hear from panelists as they explore the following questions:

  • What durable improvements to natural and social systems has ESG finance produced?
  • Who drives implementation of improvements and who validates them?
  • Do third-party assessments such as ESG ratings help, impede, or have no role in evaluating the sustainability impact of a project, company, or government?
  • Should ESG ratings be discarded, standardized, or allowed to develop as they will?


Bill Harrington

Croatan Institute

Daniel Cash

Aston University

Gillian Marcelle

Resilience Capital Ventures LLC

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