Finding optimism and innovation with ETF Partners’ Sustainability Talks Podcast

ETF Partners
4 min readJun 14, 2023

When faced with the big questions on how to create a sustainable world, we can either become daunted by the vast challenge or seek out solutions in the unknown — in the radical power of innovation.

Over the past 16 years, ETF Partners has played a key part in finding these answers, becoming the market leader in sustainable investing, thanks to our mission of identifying and backing high-impact, high-potential startups with a positive focus. Through this purposeful and principled approach, we find optimism in the uncertainty of change, supporting the innovators coming up with the right answers to tackle the climate crisis.

Since 2021, ETF Partners have provided a vital insight into our process of finding sustainable solutions through innovation with the launch of our podcast, Sustainability Talks.

Hosted by members of the ETF Partners team including managing partners Patrick Sheehan and Rob Genieser, partners, Remy de Tonnac and Fabrice Bienfait, and Head of Sustainability and IR, Zoë VanderWolk, the in-depth episodes gather some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs, thinkers and thought leaders in sustainability to discuss the central questions facing business leaders and investors trying to make a positive impact today.

Amid the range of expert guests and wide-ranging discussions, a number of key themes have emerged. One central element in the fight to innovate against climate change is the need to capitalise on technological advancements. Ex-CEO of BP, Lord Browne, spoke of the ways in which the energy market can adapt and diversify within a digital world to become more sustainably efficient, while co-founder of independent think tank RethinkX, James Arbib, explored how technology-driven disruption will be the critical factor in solving many of the world’s most pressing problems.

Financial Times reporter Simon Mundy also spoke of his experience working at the crossroads of sustainability, finance and innovation, to understand how entrepreneurs across Europe are using cutting-edge technology to create a greener world. One of ETF Partners’ portfolio companies, Normative, illustrated this concept, with its co-founder Kristian Rönn guesting on the podcast to explain how his emissions accounting engine can be employed to help businesses track their carbon footprint and transform their logistics operations to become more efficient.

Another key aspect explored in the series has been the role that geopolitics, governments and large corporations must play in building a sustainable world. Professor Tim G. Benton, leader of the Environment and Society Programme at Chatham House, discussed how climate policy sits relative to the other geopolitical issues the world is facing, as well as how changing political administrations might affect environmental foreign policies. Investors Uli Grabenwarter and Christian Motzfeldt also spoke about how European nations can navigate their policies and a shifting political landscape on the continent to ensure a greener Europe in a time of huge change.

In terms of corporations, IKEA’s former Head of Sustainability Innovation, Håkan Nordkvist, gave a fascinating insight into how the company became an early champion of sustainable innovation, making their business operations greener through implementing clean energy, plant-based food options and food waste solutions. Ed Daniels, Shell’s Strategy, Sustainability and Corporate Relations Director, meanwhile explored how global energy incumbents could become leaders in the transition to clean energy and ultimately reach net zero.

Finally, Sustainability Talks has revealed the lasting power of impact investing and how backing the right companies at crucial stages of their growth can not only provide returns but also ensure that innovation is supported for future generations. Philipp Rose, Managing Director of Robert Bosch Venture Capital, discussed how RBVC is supporting start-ups around the world whose technologies have the potential to improve quality of life and conserve natural resources, as well as the company’s own ambitions to become carbon neutral. Barclays Global Chairman of Technology Banking, Mark Zanoli, also explored how tech banking is pushing the needle towards positive, green change for exciting new businesses, and Harvard Business School’s Vikram S. Gandhi spoke about the integral inclusion of impact when it comes to navigating the risks and rewards of investment.

It is ultimately in the exploration of these crucial themes that we can establish and support the original ideas that will provide urgent responses to humanity’s most pressing issues. By championing the growth of the entrepreneurs and businesses establishing sustainable solutions, ETF Partners and our network of leaders are helping to take an exciting and positive look at what the future might hold. It is bright, vital and full of impactful possibilities.

To explore further, listen to all the episodes of Sustainability Talks here.



ETF Partners

We create value by investing in and supporting great European companies that deliver Sustainability Through Innovation.