Sustainability thought leader of the year: Mindy Lubber, Ceres

Ceres chief executive officer Mindy Lubber has scooped the Sustainability thought leader of the year award amid her efforts to drive forward the conversation on sustainable finance regulation in the US, building on two decades at the forefront of sustainability-focused thought leadership.

Mindy LuberMindy Lubber leads an all-women executive leadership team at US sustainability non-profit Ceres. The Boston-based organisation of over 170 employees aims to solve some of the world's sustainability challenges by driving action among investors and companies and inspiring policy.

Lubber has been at the helm for almost 20 years. Under her leadership, Ceres has grown in size and influence. "There is a growing and transformational movement underway across the globe and in all sectors of the economy to get to net zero," she said.

"Ceres is supporting capital market leaders in achieving commitments to get to net-zero emissions by 2040, with an emphasis on halving emissions by 2030.

"We are on this journey with capital market leaders worldwide to achieve this ambition and secure a better future for decades to come."

The Ceres Investor Network now includes more than 210 institutional investors managing more than $47 trillion in assets.

Lubber has inspired institutional investors, corporate boards and other capital market leaders to factor environmental, social and governance (ESG) into their decision-making. She regularly speaks to global media and political leaders on clean energy and water policies, and has helped to evolve the climate conversation to include a focus on jobs.

In the last year she helped the Ceres Accelerator for Sustainable Capital Markets in its work to try to transform policies to reduce the worst financial impacts of the climate crisis. It targeted regulators, corporate boards, financial institutions, and investors.

This year, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed mandating climate disclosure for all public companies. There is a backlash to climate-smart investing among the Republican states in the US.

However, led by Lubber, the Ceres Accelerator organised support for the SEC ruling from over 700 investors representing almost half the world's assets under management. This was markedly different from the first meeting on the topic in 2003, when Lubber was one of just 10 investors present.

"We will continue to work with state and federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to help pass climate-focused legislation in the US," she said. "We will work with them to ensure that the hundreds of billions in investments that congress just passed in its landmark climate bill will successfully be deployed.

"It will build out everything from clean power energy and transmission lines to electric vehicle supply chains, innovative home appliances, new industrial processes, and sustainable farming practices."

Prior to Ceres, Lubber worked as regional administrator at the US Environmental Protection Agency and founded impact investment firm Green Century Capital Management.