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Nicholas Werner Intern at World Business Council for Sustainable Development

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October 26, 2015

This summer, I had the opportunity to work as an intern with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), an NGO that collaborates with its member companies from across the globe on issues of sustainability. Though I come from a finance background, I have an interest in socially responsible investment, an emerging concentration in the financial sector. I hadn’t expected that my first opportunity to engage with the topic would be through an NGO, but I soon discovered that …

The mission of the WBCSD gives it the mandate to seek out opportunities for its members, a multi-industry array of leading companies, on which to cooperate and innovate to create sustainable value. As I began my work as finance intern, I was able to access the depth of knowledge that my boss, Chris Walker, had on the role of finance in sustainability work. Chris shared with me his ambition to bring underrepresented financial institutions to the WBCSD, and develop projects to shift how member companies saw their finances.

My first project at WBCSD was to help de-mystify the green bond: a financial instrument rising in popularity. Despite demand for these bonds reaching an all-time high, supply had slowed which presented an opportunity for WBCSD to broach the topic with its member. I was able to participate in calls with green bond experts utilize their industry expertise to assist me in writing a robust report on the barriers to issuance.

Following my work with the green bond project, I was able to focus my next project in a direction of my own choosing. I elected to examine how businesses can better align their internal investments with their externally stated missions. Though companies often promote their sustainability efforts, their pension plans and 401(k) plans, especially in the U.S., are often devoid of socially responsible fund options. I identified the stakeholders and the rationales and composed a model plan to help lay the foundations of this conversation amongst the WBCSD members.

My experience with the WBCSD has been nothing short of extraordinary, both for what I have learned about the finance industry, and for the impact that my work has had the potential to realize. The projects I completed in my time there have all had a direct relation to my own individual studies and goals. I am hopeful that I will be able to continue engaging with the mission of GSEI and use my unique experience with the WBCSD to promote public-private cooperation on campus and throughout my future employment.