Sound Investments for a prosperous planet

SOCAP Global in San Francisco Highlights Indigenous Voices

On Oct. 23-25 last fall, I attended SOCAP23 in San Francisco. The 15th annual conference brought together 3,200 investors, entrepreneurs, and social impact leaders to accelerate progress toward solving the world’s toughest challenges through market-based solutions.

A recurring theme of the conference was the precarious state of our climate and the need for a worldwide shift in the way we are addressing the looming climate catastrophe. If we have any hope of creating the fundamental changes necessary to address the deep-seated causes of human-made climate change, we must stop relying on the same old tools and people that got us into this disaster in the first place.

For me, the Indigenous voices present at SOCAP23 offered the most compelling arguments for the systemic change needed.

Photo credit: Patrick Hardwig and SOCAP Global, PBC.

Pictured from left to right: Moderator Alana Linderoth from Mongabay, Aner Ben-Ami from Candide Group, Pajani Singah from Amazonia Impact Ventures, Suzanne Singer from Native Renewables, Emil Sirén Gualinga from Amazonia Impact Ventures, Brett Isaac from Navajo Power, PBC

Other Native voices at SOCAP23 (not pictured): Clay Colombe of Siċaŋġu Co, Jaime Gloshay of Native Women Lead, Vanessa Roanhorse of Roanhorse Consulting, Tiarne Shutt of First Australians Capital

For generations uncounted—through genocide, displacement, and disenfranchisement—Native peoples have continued to be the most effective stewards of the climate, plants, animals, and, by extension, humans. Yet, investment in Native peoples and ideas is, at best, tokenized. How can we change this? The first step is to start listening to Native voices.

Real capital investments into Native communities are key, but investors need to change the way they relate to these communities. Investors should invest time and energy in understanding the needs and priorities of Native peoples and communities and not just send money through intermediaries to support projects that outsiders might think will benefit those communities. Investment without relationship is insufficient because it won’t build the trust necessary to avoid the historical patterns of exploitation of Native peoples by financial systems and those who control them.

Native panelists encouraged those interested in effective climate action to reach out and create long-term and deep connections with the Native peoples and organizations they hope to support.

“Impact at the speed of trust,” the theme of SOCAP23, must be the foundation of any effective and ethical investment into Native communities.

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