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S03E02 James Mitchell, Principle at the Rocky Mountain Institute

Season 3, Ep. 2

What we discussed: The oceans are our last “commons” of the world, legally defined to be outside the jurisdiction of every country. Thus, maritime management is a great case study of Nobel Laurate Elinor Ostrem’s work on managing the commons.

Why it matters: Unlike the tragedy of the commons, Ostrem demonstrated that communities can come together to manage common resources without the need of a top-down, hierarchical approach. However, a grounds-up system has a set of rules to follow:

  • Clearly defined boundaries;
  • Proportional equivalence between benefits and costs;
  • Collective choice arrangements;
  • Monitoring;
  • Graduated sanctions;
  • Fast and fair conflict resolution;
  • Local autonomy;
  • Appropriate relations with other tiers of rule-making authority (polycentric governance)

What it means for you: As you go about creating systems change, create new systems that are known to work. Ostrem’s model is one such model that can be used to manage shared resources.

Interviewee’s Bio:

James Mitchell, Rocky Mountain Institute, London, UK

MSc, Nature, Society, and Environmental Policy, University of Oxford, SSEE

James works to align capital flows with climate targets through innovative research on climate risks and opportunities as well as highly ambitious cross-sector collaborations. James has played a leading role in the creation of the Poseidon Principles, the first global climate alignment agreement for financial institutions. https://www.linkedin.com/in/james20/

 

In this interview, we discussed the following questions:

  • How many frequent flyer miles does your cello have?
  • How does a studied cellist make the transition into sustainable finance?
  • What got you interested in environmental policy in the first place? When did you first get exposed to these ideas?
  • Now that you've been in sustainable finance, how do you frame it?
  • Finance is ultimately an enabling sector. When we say the financial sector is aligned to climate outcomes, what does that mean?
  • It makes me think of other enablers like lawyers and accountants, who have small footprints but enable consumption across the broader economy.
  • Should a bank's portfolio be a reflection of the real economy, or does it have agency to create the real economy?
  • Sustainability within a company is "the whole company." You're pointing out that's true for the entire economy.
  • How do you drive to these market-based solutions for sustainable finance? 
  • Do you find more interest in different geographies, such as Europe, US, Asia, or is it a global interest?
  • What are the Poseidon Principles and what was the impetus in developing them?
  • Was the maritime sector involved in the conversation? 
  • You're doing metrics for specific subsectors. Why not do one for the entire maritime sector?
  • How many stakeholders did you have to engage with to find your initial set of signatories?
  • The Poseidon principles is simple – there’s effectively only one metric. How did the stakeholders settle on that metric?
  • You could have chosen 50 metrics, but you chose just one. Do you think that set the Poseidon Principles apart from the other initiatives out there?
  • What was your most important skill in getting Poseidon Principles Launched?
  • When did you first notice this interconnected web of moving parts?
  • How did Elinor Ostrem's work on the Commons influenced your work?
  • Was there something about the Maritime sector that made it a viable application of Ostrem's work?
  • How do you define the boundaries that the industry sub-groups will work on?
  • What other sectors have similar properties as the maritime sector?
  • One difference is that the maritime is a consumer sector whereas oil & gas is a producing sector.
  • It seems that the more specific the metric, the more actionable. But what about the notion of needing holistic solutions? How do you manage that tension?
  • To a student or early career professional, what skill or expertise do you encourage them to learn?

 

About Levers of Exchange

Interview by Jimmy Jia (www.jimmyjia.com)

Music by Sean Hart (www.seanhart.com)

Website: https://www.leversofexchange.com/

 

Season 3 is funded by a generous grant from the Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship, at the Saïd Business School, Oxford University.

More Episodes

8/3/2021

S03E09 Skills that students should learn

Season 3, Ep. 9
Personal Resilience. Vision. Listening, and a sense of curiosity. These were the skills that our Season 3 guests recommended students and early career professionals learn today if they want to enter the sustainability sector. Our guests spanned across telecom, water, finance, maritime, electric utilities and cultural systems. I was curious, are the skills to succeed the same or different? I asked every guest, what skill they would advise a student or early professional to learn. The answers were very revealing.Natalia Pshenichnaya, the former Head of Programmes at the GSMA Foundation tied personal resilience to how this deeper inner awareness keeps the person grounded in what's important to them. Joaquin Viquez, a water consultant for the German Development Agency G-I-Zed, also pointed out the importance of a vision and personal passion.James Mitchell trained as a cellist before creating a career in Sustainable Finance. Now at the Rocky Mountain Institute, he pointed out that just like in a chamber music group, listening to each other, hearing each other, responding and reacting in kind with each other, is a critical skill to learn.Three of our guests, however, pointed out the power of curiosity and asking the right question, including Jeremy McDaniels, now the Senior Advisor for Sustainable Finance at the Institute of International Finance.Stuart Hilen, a Portfolio Developer at EnergyAustralia, put it differently. He considered the skills he looks for when hiring team members.Finally, Shruthi Vijayakumar summed it up beautifully. Questions invite others into our own space, to question with us.So, there you have it. Those are the skills that students and early career professionals should learn. It's not the textbook lessons that will create systems change. It's the interpersonal skills of inviting others in, of making chamber music together, that will create the new systems for everlasting change.Guests:·Stuart Hillen, EnergyAustralia, Melbourne, Australia https://www.linkedin.com/in/stuart-hillen/·Jeremy McDaniels, Institute of International Finance, Washington DC USA https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeremy-mcdaniels/·James Mitchell, Rocky Mountain Institute, London, UK https://www.linkedin.com/in/james20/·Natalia Pshenichnaya, formerly GSM Association, Berlin, Germany https://www.linkedin.com/in/natalia-pshenichnaya-7107781a/·Shruthi Vijayakumar, Education New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand https://www.linkedin.com/in/shruthivijayakumar/·Joaquin Viquez, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, San Jose, Costa Rica https://www.linkedin.com/in/joaquinviquez/About Levers of Exchange:Interview by Jimmy Jia (www.jimmyjia.com)Music by Sean Hart (www.seanhart.com)Website: https://www.leversofexchange.com/Image by Juraj Varga from PixabaySeason 3 is funded by a generous grant from the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, at the Saïd Business School, Oxford University.
7/27/2021

S03E08 What’s your superpower skill in making systems change?

Season 3, Ep. 8
Have you ever wondered if skills that got us to where we are today, may not be the same skills needed to solve the world's most pressing problems? For those who have been listening to Season Three, you know that we interviewed six practitioners who work deeply at the intersection of large systems. What are the skills necessary to thrive at those intersections?Shruthi Vijayakumar, a Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum and co-founder of the Emerge Institute, points out that making sense of cultural systems means understanding the historical context and how one fits into the social fabric. For Stuart Hillen, a Portfolio Developer at EnergyAustralia, as an engineer, he found his calling using his problem-solving skills to understand how things work and how things are made.Another trained engineer, Joaquin Viquez who works for the German Development Agency GIZ. He attributed a sense of knowing what's missing rather than noticing what was there.For all of us who work at the intersection of systems, it's communication that is the ultimate skill. Communication comes in many forms. For James Mitchell, Principle at the Rocky Mountain Institute, the stakeholder engagement he had to do in the maritime sector required a lot of listening in order to get the Poseidon Principles launched.Natalia Pshenichnaya, who spent many years at the GSMA Foundation, found new products and applications of how the Telecomm sector could alleviate poverty and improve agriculture businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa. She pointed out the importance to articulate messages in the language and jargon of whomever she was talking to.Finally, Jeremy McDaniels credited facilitation skills at bringing people together across many sectors. As the Senior Advisor for Sustainable Finance at the Institute of International Finance, he interacts with global actors, across 400 institutions and tries to strive for consensus.So there you have it - it's the art of figuring out what's possible. Some of it is curiosity driven, some of it is breaking down big problems into its constituent parts. But time and again, we heard just how important it is to translate between stakeholders - the jargon, the expectations and the underlying mentalities. Hopefully this episode gives you an idea of what skills you have, and what you can develop for a successful future.Guests:Stuart Hillen, EnergyAustralia, Melbourne, Australia https://www.linkedin.com/in/stuart-hillen/Jeremy McDaniels, Institute of International Finance, Washington DC USA https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeremy-mcdaniels/James Mitchell, Rocky Mountain Institute, London, UK https://www.linkedin.com/in/james20/Natalia Pshenichnaya, formerly GSM Association, Berlin, Germany https://www.linkedin.com/in/natalia-pshenichnaya-7107781a/Shruthi Vijayakumar, Education New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand https://www.linkedin.com/in/shruthivijayakumar/Joaquin Viquez, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, San Jose, Costa Rica https://www.linkedin.com/in/joaquinviquez/About Levers of Exchange:Interview by Jimmy Jia (www.jimmyjia.com)Music by Sean Hart (www.seanhart.com)Website: https://www.leversofexchange.com/Image by ErikaWittlieb from PixabaySeason 3 is funded by a generous grant from the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, at the Saïd Business School, Oxford University.