SDG Impact Heroes
Celebrating SDG Heroes at the forefront of creating a resilient & inclusive economy.
SDG Impact Heroes is a sequence within the SDG Heroes series, featuring highly select pioneers and mavericks mobilizing markets and impact capital to meet the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
SDG Impact Heroes is inaugurated by one of impact investing's Godfathers, Jed Emerson in recognition of his wisdom, innovation, pioneering thought leadership and courageous lifelong commitment to a resilient and inclusive economy. See below "SDG Impact Heroes Spotlight Interview” with Jed(i) Emerson by: Amber Nystrom, 17 September, 2017
Jed Emerson, originator of the concept of Blended Value, author, wisdom leader, private family advisor and global pioneer in impact investing. Often called one of the Godfathers of a shared values economy, Jed sits in his SDG object - his great grandmother's rocking chair, where she first heard that Lincoln had been shot.
SDG Goal #17: "Partnerships for the Goals."
“SDG Impact Heroes Spotlight Interview” with Jed(i) Emerson by: Amber Nystrom, 17 September, 2017
Q: Please tell us about your SDG object, and the significance it holds for you personally?
Jed: “My SDG object is the antique rocking chair I inherited from my father, which is the same chair my great-grandmother was sitting in when, according to family lore, she was told that Abraham Lincoln had been shot. It is important to me in two ways. First, it is a solid, well-made piece of furniture that on the one hand is dynamic and on the other hand a grounding to both present and past. When I sit in it, I feel both centered to who I am today and connected with who I have been in previous periods. Second, Abraham Lincoln means a lot of things to a lot of people, but for me he symbolizes freedom—the ability to each of us to exercise individual agency over our lives and have the potential to become and be whatever we are called to be in this life.”
Q: How does this object symbolize the one UN Sustainable Development Goal you would choose as the most important for you? Why is this Goal the one you would most choose – for you and your purpose in the world?
Jed: “To me, the purpose of capital is not simply to make more wealth through finance, but to be a fuel for freedom—to advance and energize the creation of a more just and equitable world. SDG #17 speaks to strengthening partnerships and finance as a means of linking and connecting the various SDGs. This speaks to issues of sustainable trade, technology, and systemic issues—each of which advance freedom in various ways when viewed through the lens of sustainability and equity. SDG #17 is, in many ways, the linking goal that supports, affirms and advances the other goals. I have spent my professional life promoting the notion that while we must each operate within a silo of focus, our overall vision should be grounded in the cross-cuts and unifying aspects that unite us all across silos. SDG #17 speaks to that idea of linking, supporting and advancing diverse goals within a unified vision of greater justice and sustainability for our world.”
Q: How do you see the nexus between impact investing and the SDGs - as potentially vital to bring us into a resilient and inclusive economy?
Jed: “At its core, impact investing is about mobilizing private capital for public good. The practice of impact investing, at its best, seeks to promote a more inclusive and resilient economy that supports our greater efforts to realize a vision of equity and justice for our world. Impact investing is an important toolkit to advance each of the SDGs and provide us with the fuel we need to energize and execute our work across our planet."
Resilience speaks to an ability to evolve new means of meeting our needs that do not destroy the Earth, but rather advance economics that renews and restores in the face of global climate change and its related challenges. The SDGs should each be viewed in this context of advancing not simply more of the same economic and other practices, but creating new thinking and practices that position us to alter the course of our future.
A lot of my work has to do with helping folks re-conceptualize our understanding of the Purpose of Capital, the nature of the returns that capital generates and the idea that value is fundamentally whole, non divisible and a blend of environmental, social and economic components. This often entails taking a different approach to how we think about our future as well as how we define the tools available to us to advance a more sustainable economic order in the face of the Anthropocene. Now, a lot of us spend our time promoting these ideas, but we need to remember that just because we may have a thought, that doesn’t make us thought leaders. Change is about vision, to be sure, but must also be grounded in execution—in bringing those ideas to life. The SDGs—or perhaps more importantly the vision they advance—are about taking new ideas and practices to our world and creating a new reality.
For further Jed(i) wisdom, see also our: "Lessons from the Godfather" interview and "through the fire" photos in Conscious Company Magazine.