Uniting Finance and Passion: a Interview with Peter Fusaro
What motivates a person to hold the longest running Wall Street Green Summit? Isn't Wall Street Green an Oxymoron?
Not to Peter Fusaro, who has been an advocate for market drivers for a greener economy since his first Earth Day in 1970, which he attended wearing a solar powered T-Shirt in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. While passionate about 'the movement', he believed even then that the only way to achieve substantive change was through bringing together education, technology and finance. In 1970, the word 'finance' tended to be aligned with the 'establishment'. Yet Mr. Fusaro held on to his beliefs, starting by working at the US Department of Energy as a policy analyst shortly after graduating from Carnegie Mellon with a Masters in Political Science in 1975. In 2001 he held his first Wall Street Green Summit.
"We've come a long way since 1970," he said smiling. "We have good strides in clean air and water, and renewables have come down in price a great deal. 80%-90% for wind, and 35%-40% for wind. In 2017, corporate buying of renewables doubled. That's a big step."
Unlike more targeted events that focus on renewable finance, corporate sustainability or energy efficiency, his goal is to bring together a diverse audience of entrepreneurs, investment advisors such as bankers and family offices, technologists, and young people. He has found that when people with very different backgrounds and goals meet and talk, they come to understand ideas from a different point of view. That brings up new solutions for very complex problems in financial capital.
"For over 17 years, we have shared ideas and helped grow new approaches. Magic happens and you may not even know it at the time."
Mr. Fusaro mentioned that one investor called him 'mission driven." He agrees, because he sees himself driven by ethical values than money. "Money is a fuel, a facilitator." he added. "We're supposed to leave the world a better place". His travels around the US and abroad has shown him a level of energy, food and water poverty that motivates him to 'do things faster'. He believes that Millennials have a passion he hasn't seen since his first Earth Day.
"When I was teaching at Columbia University recently, students didn't bring plastic water bottles. They used public transportation, zip cars, rental bikes. They see a pathway to changing behavior supported by the many programs at Universities and Colleges that are helping them plan a more sustainable economy."
This combination -- the existing financial infrastructure that is learning from Millennials as they are learning from it -- that is accelerating clean technologies in energy, food and water.