Columbia Business Magazine
Social Impact

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This past November, at COP27, 100-plus heads of state and government – along with academic and business leaders – gathered at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to find actionable solutions to climate change.

This year, for the first time, I attended the conference with other faculty as part of a unified Columbia Business School. Our presence at COP27, and that of other business schools, will become increasingly common in the years ahead, as the world of business will not only be impacted by climate change but will also be a key driver of long-term solutions.

At COP27, we were inspired by our conversations, including those with our alumni, who are already leaders within the climate and sustainability space. On November 9, I joined Alex Halliday, dean of Columbia Climate School, to host a panel on climate finance, an area of significant strength at CBS. Moderated by Vijay Vaitheeswaran, global energy and climate innovation editor at The Economist, the panel included Nili Gilbert ’03, vice chairwoman at Carbon Direct, and Kara Mangone ’14, global head of climate strategy at Goldman Sachs. Bruce Usher, the Elizabeth B. Strickler ’86 and Mark T. Gallogly ’86 Faculty Director of the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at Columbia Business School, and Andrew Denu, head of climate innovations at SunCulture, joined the panel in a discussion on financing the transition to net zero, including investment vehicles, new technologies, and ensuring an equitable distribution of the benefits from financing and technology. Also, on November 10, Mark Gallogly ’86 joined us for a robust discussion on the next generation of climate leaders.

For nearly 20 years, understanding the impact of climate change from a business perspective has been a focus of our School. Today, we’re building on that foundation, expanding our climate research and curriculum, developing new partnerships, and continuing to work with alumni leaders in the space. We also believe that increased and frictionless sharing of teaching material will allow our field to move quickly, accelerate the development of human capital, and foster collaboration. That’s why Columbia Business School, along with other peer schools, will open source our climate curriculum, rapidly expanding access to it and increasing its educational impact.

Our commitment to climate and sustainability education is why we’ve dedicated this issue to the topic, with our cover story on page 34 showcasing the work of our alumni. This includes Satish Selvanathan’s Lanka Environment Fund, which supports environmental conservation in Sri Lanka; Nili Gilbert’s noteworthy work on carbon removal and reduction; and Wendy De Wolf’s achievements at East Light Partners, which handles the first stages of solar project development. In these pages, you’ll also find insights from our outstanding faculty, including Shivaram Rajgopal’s perspective on ESG investing, Gernot Wagner on Europe’s energy crisis, Eric Johnson’s work on choice architecture, and an excerpt from Bruce Usher’s new book, Investing in the Era of Climate Change.

I am struck by the energy, innovation, and success of academic and business leaders, the individuals on the front lines of combating climate change. When I see the ways our faculty inform the US position on climate change mitigation, direct corporate conversations toward sustainability, and inspire students to raise the bar of achievement ever higher, I am optimistic about our capacity to have a positive impact. And when I consider how our alumni are leading businesses to directly address concerns such as environmental conservation, carbon management, and solar project development, I am energized by their effort.

Together, we are shaping how business and society respond to and influence the work around climate and sustainability, we’re helping our students and alumni to develop clear and scalable solutions, and, ultimately, we’re changing our footprint and that of the larger world.

Costis Maglaras Dean,

Columbia Business School
David and Lyn Silfen Professor of Business