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  4. Episode 8: The myths and truths about ESG

Guest Speaker: Audrey Choi, Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer at Morgan Stanley

Chatting with Morgan Stanley’s CMO: the myths and truths about ESG

Episode 8 | Duration: 35 minutes

This time, we met with Audrey Choi, who is both the CMO and the Chief Sustainability Officer at Morgan Stanley. We discussed her personal story, Morgan Stanley's path towards sustainability, as well as Audrey's thoughts and ideas around sustainability in finance. Discover the myths and truths about sustainable investing, learn about real-life cases of adopting the ESG approach, and dive deep into the topic of leveraging collaboration and partnerships. 

  • Keesa Schreane: Welcome to the Refinitiv Sustainability Perspectives podcast, where we share examples of leadership and innovation. Small entrepreneurial businesses, large megacorporations and all types of enterprises in between are seeing a global shift in perspectives around the role of business and society.  From ESG investing to sustainable finance to social impact in our communities, we're on a journey to leverage data and intelligence to make the best business decisions possible. Enjoy the podcast. 

    Our guest today is Audrey Choi. Audrey is Morgan Stanley's chief marketing officer and the firm's first chief sustainability officer. She also is the founding CEO of Morgan Stanley's Institute for Sustainable Investing. As chief sustainability officer, Audrey oversees Morgan Stanley's global efforts to promote sustainability through the capital markets and the focus around bringing sustainable investing into the mainstream. As chief marketing officer, Audrey stewards the global brand. And prior to her work at Morgan Stanley, Audrey held senior policymaking positions in the Clinton administration, including serving as Janet Yellen’s chief of staff at the Council of Economic Advisors and domestic policy adviser to Vice President Al Gore. We are not done yet. Audrey also served as The Wall Street Journal's bureau chief. 

    Audrey Choi: It's great to be with you, Keesa. And my life sounds so much more exciting when you say it.

    Schreane: Well, we definitely want to get into your work with the White House as well as the work that you're doing now with Morgan Stanley. But first, you talk a lot about making the case for sustainable investing. I know one of the platforms that you really focus on is separating the truth from the myth in terms of what's out there in society about sustainable investing. Is it sustainable? Is it revenue generating? So could you talk to us a bit about what's myth and what's fact when it comes to that? 

    Choi: I think that the biggest myth about sustainable investing is that it means that you are a soft hearted investor who cares about the environment more than returns and that if you're going to do it, that it means that you're willing to accept some sort of discount in exchange for being virtuous. And I think it's increasingly a myth, because what we've found is, look, there are certainly ways that you could say that you want to invest and get a lower return, perhaps because you wanted to actually donate some of the returns to capacity building or to philanthropy. But if you are an investor and how Morgan Stanley thinks about sustainable investing is we think, an investor, wants to think about sustainability in a number of ways.

    First is, as you said, financial sustainability, because you might do it once, but you're not going to do it a second and third time and therefore make it economically sustainable if it just doesn't make sense for you as an investment. And so at Morgan Stanley, we've always talked about sustainable investing with what I like to call a capital. It needs to be financially sustainable as well as environmentally sustainable, socially sustainable and from a good governance perspective.

    Once you apply that lens to it and you are actually talking in the realm of investing, can I do investing sustainably? We believe the answer is yes. What we've seen from our studies actually, is that not only does sustainable investing not require a discount, but it can actually also help reduce risks. So just to give you some hard data, because a lot of people don't necessarily believe that if you just say it. So, for example, we recently did a study where we analyzed 11,000 investing funds and we compared the sustainable strategies to the traditional strategies. We tracked their performance from 2004 to 2018, over 15 years performance, and we compare the sustainable strategy to the traditional strategies. And we found a couple of really interesting things that I think go right to that myth busting. First of all, if you plotted the performance of the traditional strategies, unsurprisingly, you would probably see would see a normal bell curve distribution because most things in life have a normal bell curve distribution. 

    So there are some managers who were lucky and/or good, some managers who were less so. But most of them clumped in the middle. When you plotted the sustainable strategies, lo and behold, it wasn't magically different or warped or somehow disobeying the laws of physics and statistics. It too, was a normal bell curve distribution. 

    Some were lucky or good. Some were less so. Most of them in the middle. But then when you actually compared, you actually saw that there was, contrary to the myth, there was no financial tradeoff for the sustainable investments, that they really performed right in line with the traditional investments. There was one difference, however, which was interesting, which is on the volatility side, that the sustainable strategies actually had lower volatility. And in addition, they had a 20 percent smaller downside deviation than the traditional funds. So leave aside whether you “care” about the environment or society, I've never yet met an investor or trader or business person who says, “I want option A, the one that has the exact same return and higher risk.” 

    So I think that that's been one key piece of evidence. We could also go into individual examples where we've seen that the individual companies where the management is focused on what some might call sustainability goals, what others might call good business, good stewardship of your company. Thinking about are you polluting your environment? Are you dealing fairly with your workers? Are you thinking about diversity, about the broader impacts of your company and its effects? We're seeing those companies actually do outperform.

    I'll give you just one other bit of data, because, again, I feel like people are very focused on this -- gender, from a gender diversity perspective. Again, I think there's a lot of people who are very focused and interested in gender investing. People said, well, you know, it's the right thing to do. So maybe I should do that because it's the right thing to do. Again, we said, let's just do the work. Let's just look at the numbers. And our colleagues and our research looked and they found that the high gender equity companies actually did outperform their less diverse peers. And in fact, it was about 3.1 percent per year over the last eight years, when you compare the high gender equity to low gender equity. So I could go on, but I won't. There's just lots of ways in which we're increasingly seeing that, quote, doing the right thing actually engenders ... It does not have to be a discount, number one. And then two, that it really can help both reduce risk and then give you some insights into future trends. 

    Schreane: Well, just digging into this, I'm fascinated by the risk, the volatility piece. So if we think about firms that are reducing their carbon footprint, firms that are using less water, those sorts of things. OK, I get that. Because they're expending less by doing those things. But risk? Where does volatility play a role in these sustainable investments? 

    Choi: You know, we can come in a whole variety of ways. You know, it could come in, for example, if there’s a company that is perhaps not the best steward of the environment around its industrial process. And there ends up being some sort of pollution or a leak or some other thing that might be unexpected and that might lead to damages that can engender additional costs for a company. There could be all sorts of legal exposures and other things. But also, there can be just ways in which you really have some virtuous or some vicious cycles created. Maybe it helps to give you two examples. And these are not live stock recommendations. So take these as true facts, but which we should use as parables. 

    Your listeners should not trade on the following stories. But they're true. 

    So, for example, there was one company in a particular sort of heavy industry that was known to have some challenges in terms of environmental stewardship around water usage and also in terms of their community engagement. And every quarter, every year. Investors and stock analysts would say, well, they're not exemplary in that, but it's not really reflected on the balance sheet. And we don't think it necessarily affects our call for valuation for the next 13 week period, in the next 12 month period. So it was never really noticed. 

    And this was actually right around the time where we were actually starting to look in our global research -- how could we actually think about what are the environmental factors, the social factors that aren't on the balance sheet, but maybe should be because they could have a material financial effect on their returns. And our research analyst actually developed a model and put out a big model and a system whereby we could actually embed materially relevant environmental and social governance factors into our core valuation. 

    And so when this analyst for this particular company went back and looked at the companies in his sector, he realized that this one company, again, challenges with water usage, challenges with community engagement, never seemed material. Then when he looked closer with this new kind of lens to it, he saw that the water usage meant that they were on the verge of being slapped with an order to do a feasibility study to build desalination plants, which could have an unanticipated capital expenditure of anywhere from a half a billion to a billion and a quarter dollars. At the same time, this “enh” social engagement with a community meant that their permitting for new sites was getting slower and slower and slower each time because wow, there was actually a member of the community who was the person who had to sign off on the permit. And so that meant that actually if you have slower, longer permitting delays before you can start a new site, that means potentially lower output. So suddenly lower output and unanticipated cap ex suddenly meant a downgrade.

    But on the other side, in a different industry, there's a different company who had been doing an exceptionally good job on girls empowerment, female employment, community engagement, recycling, a whole bunch of things that people thought, well, that's great. And they have a lovely community, you know, social responsibility report. And they're really nice. But it's not showing up on the balance sheet. So whatever. And again, when we looked at with this new model, they started realizing that actually all that recycling meant that they had a lower cost of goods sold because they were getting input materials cheaper. 

    All that girl power and female employment and blah, blah and work that they were doing in the community was not blah, blah at all. In fact, it was leading to the fact that they had higher retention rates, longer average tenure, which was leading to less cost from churn and recruiting and vacant spots, higher productivity and higher innovation. And suddenly all that was incredibly financially material. And it led to an upgrade. 

    Schreane: Wow. I love how in that example, community engagement led to employee engagement. 

    Choi: Right. I think you could go up to any CEO and say, do you believe your company will be better, have better products, be more effective, be more efficient, be more productive, be more innovative if your employees are happy, engaged, loyal, and think that you are a company that does good things in their community or the opposite? Well, I don't think you'd find any CEO who would end up on the side of not being a “sustainable” CEO. 

    Schreane: Exactly. Wow. This is amazing. I want to dive right into your work at the White House. When we think of Vice President Al Gore, he's probably one of the earliest advocates of sustainability, of sustainable investing. I can imagine that in those days you ran up against some brick walls just because we weren't talking about sustainability or sustainable investing then in the way that we are now. Could you let us know how you were able to open doors? How did you begin to socialize the language, socialize the concept in a way that started to resonate with people? 

    Choi: You know, it's really incredible if you think about that journey. I had the great privilege of working in the Clinton administration and working for Vice President Al Gore, also working for Janet Yellen. A lot of really, really wonderful leaders. I was working for him in the mid 90s. 

    What's amazing is it was actually 1976 when Al Gore, a freshman congressman from Tennessee, held the first congressional hearings on climate change. Nineteen seventy six. 

    That's, my math, 43 years ago. I believe that he first actually started saying, let's look at 600,000 years of data from Antarctic ice. And what that tells about weather patterns. And he started talking a thing called climate change. You know, it really took an enormously long time before that really did gain traction. I think in those early days, a lot of the members of Congress were like, what's this kid talking about? 

    It is really stunning when you think about where we've gotten today, where climate change is in the parlance of the Federal Reserve, of dozens of central banks around the world who are part of the greening of the financial system network, of the Financial Stability Board, ever since Mark Carney's leadership with establishing TCFD to really focus on climate change risk as a material part of financial disclosure that you need to understand for the very stability of the financial markets. And I think a number of things that contribute to that. One is obviously over the past 40 some years, we've seen increasingly the impacts of climate change in all geographies, including right here in the United States in some of our largest cities. I mean, it's really hard to find a place where you're not seeing direct, palpable impacts of climate change.

    Just last month, Morgan Stanley hosted our first Sustainable Investing Summit. And climate change was a significant theme throughout the day, of something that as responsible investors, as responsible corporate leaders, you really can't ignore. You know, Mary Schapiro, who's on our board and former FCC chair, was saying, no, let me be clear: climate change is not just an issue for the green investor. It's an issue for every investor and for every boardroom. And similarly, we have this amazing scientist, Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, recently elected to the National Academy of Sciences. She's also on our board at the Institute for Sustainable Investing. And she did this incredible presentation of the climate impacts and the now completely undeniable evidence that this is not just your sort of normal weather fluctuations.

    But again, when you look at hundreds of thousands of years of records of temperature changes and carbon emissions, there is something very anomalous and different going on. And that from the financial perspective, again, whether or not you care about the environment or care about climate change for its own sake, you do care about the fact that each year we're having successively growing insurance losses.

    We're having, according to the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, which I'm on the board of, which is a nonprofit focused on sustainability, really is a core part of what should be disclosed for investors to make good decisions. It has more than 90 percent, I think, 93 percent, of the value of the U.S. stock market is exposed to climate change risk. 

    So when you start seeing things of the order of magnitude and Dr. Bierbaum mentioned, when you have a city in the United States in three years having three occurrences of what are called 500 year floods, that's probably a pretty good sign that your risk models from the past might be a little bit off. So what's fascinating is, when you think about that span from 1976, Al Gore is getting Congress for the first time to listen to something about climate change to now where it’s chief risk officer, it’s chief financial officer. As regulators around the globe are saying, climate change is probably one of the most significant systemic material risks that every business and financial regulator and financial markets need to take account of. It's a pretty dramatic change and yet it's not going nearly fast enough. 

    Schreane: So you've been on both sides of the spectrum, corporate and government. What makes for the best partnership? Because what I'm hearing now is that you're bringing these stakeholders to the table to really talk about this and really drive change in terms of getting governmental organizations together, NGOs, corporations to work on one accord. How does that work? Is there a secret sauce, so to speak, or how can we really drive change through that type of collaboration? 

    Choi: I think collaboration really is the key. I think it's a false choice to say business can do it on its own or government needs to do it. It really does need to be both. It's very clear government play as government and its sort of enlightened policy setting plays a critical role for any industry, any issue of setting the rules of the road, determining whether the playing field is level or whether you're trying to help advantage a new industry, a new entrant or protect an old industry. And there's unmistakable levers of power that policymakers in every single country have. And also at the city and the state level at the same time. Business absolutely has a responsibility to need to be at the table, because all the philanthropy in the world and all the government funding in the world is necessary but insufficient to solve problems on the order of magnitude and the scale that they have now. So that's why we're so excited at what we're able to do, is that obviously policy is going to do what policy is going to do. We as a capital markets player, we've been really focusing on how can we do the work, analyze the data, bring that proposition to investors to say, if you're interested … If you're not, you're not. 

    If you were interested, here's what we found about we're thinking about the environment or society might do to your risk, to your returns. And if you were interested in choosing these kinds of portfolios, that we're able to help put those kinds of investment opportunities together. I think that's been one of the big changes. You know, Morgan Stanley actually started on this journey back in 2009, which was very, very early for a mainstream financial institution. And if you think back to the world of what was happening in 2009, particularly the financial sector, it was not necessarily an intuitive time to say, hey, let's start a new group called Global Sustainable Finance. 

    But that's actually what Morgan Stanley did at the time, because we had this belief that environmental issues and social issues really weren't just extra financial issues, sort of side issues or CSR issues, but they really could be material to understanding risk and opportunity. And I think that what we've seen happening there is that as we started to develop products that investors were becoming more and more and you know, but when we started back in 2009, again, impact investing and all of the other terms that you're talking about, whether it's sustainable investing or impact investing or values driven investing. 

    At the time, a lot of people thought, oh, well, that's something very interesting for a mission driven investor who isn't doing something like sort of interesting and charismatic. And maybe it's a really exciting private equity fund for very wealthy investors to do something really, really ambitious in a far flung part of the world with some ... and in the end, it was hard at that point if you were a regular person to think about investing a lot of the activity that at that point focused on private equity funds in emerging markets. 

    And you did need to be an accredited investor with the ability to do those kinds of alternatives and high prices. One of the things we've worked at Morgan Stanley, is making it more and more and more accessible. So after a couple of years, we actually launched our first model portfolios where you can get a diversified portfolio following our investment committee's recommendations.

    At the time, it was considered a great victory that we got the prices down to only $600,000 and $400,000 to be able to buy into these model portfolios. Fast forward a couple of years. We've gotten it down to $10,000 and even to $5,000 whether it’s your first investment as you start the world of work or that you could with $5,000 or $10,000, you could use diversified portfolios that give you exposure to your range of sustainability focused options. And as you've seen, the market has just exploded again. It's now globally, according to various estimates, about a $30 trillion market, meaning one out of every three dollars under professional management. In the U.S., it's about $12 trillion, about one of every four dollars under professional management. 

    Schreane: So it's important to make this accessible not just to the higher end investor, but to everyone, really. 

    Choi: Exactly. Because what we've seen is, one of the other things we do is we've been pulling investors the whole time to say, are you interested in this? And what we've seen has been a really fascinating evolution. 

    So when we first polled investors in I believe 2015, we had 71 percent of investors saying they were interested. What was interesting, if you broke that down, though, is that we've sort of always had millennials and women leading the way. So it was 71 percent overall. Millennials were 84 percent. Women that first year were 76 percent and men were 62 percent. A couple of years later, we went back. The men go well, but they were 67 percent. The women had jumped to 84 and the boys were at 86. And the last time we did, most recently, 85 percent of all the industry's polls that they were interested in sustainable investing and the men had come up to 83 percent. The women were at 86 percent and the millennials at 95 percent. And we're seeing that this next generation, which is already the largest generation in the U.S. workforce to date, because the millennials were 35, 36. 

    They're ready to kind of, in force, they're like, well, of course, we would think about sustainability in our investments. Like why? How could you not, right? Like more than 90 percent of millennials want sustainable investing to be one of their retirement investment options. Although I think it's only about 17 percent of companies actually offer sustainable 401Ks today. But also millennials are twice as likely as other generations to check packaging to see if the products they're buying are sustainable. They're twice as likely to buy something as a result of that. They're twice like to boycott. And they're three times more likely to choose their employer based on sustainability. So we're definitely seeing a real sort of sea change here, but that means that it has to be something that, you know, if the demand is not broad, we need to make sure the access to the products is equally broad. 

    Schreane: Right. And speaking in terms of access, we're talking about now, not just portfolios, but what Morgan Stanley is doing around access and collaboration. Morgan Stanley's multicultural innovation lab and context of investing in communities that have historically experienced underinvestment. That's another way that you're looking to collaborate and to really ensure that folks have access. 

    So with labs of that nature, how would an entrepreneur or a group reach out to Morgan Stanley to say, hi, I have something that you might be interested in, I'm interested in and pushing the envelope in terms of sustainability, I'm interested in really driving things forward. How does that happen? How can an entrepreneur or a group connect with Morgan Stanley to really help you in terms of your efforts there? 

    Choi: Yeah, I mean, so there's there's a number of ways. And so the multicultural innovation lab now that you mentioned is led by my amazing colleague, Carla Harris. And every year there was actually a call for applications for entrepreneurs. And so that's an open application process. I believe that's actually underway as we speak. And that's definitely think where every entrepreneur went in, entrepreneurs of color, who, as the studies that Carla has done, have shown, haven't been getting equal access to capital for whatever set, whole variety of reasons. That's really operating for them to apply.

    At the Institute for Sustainable Investing, we've also been focusing on the next generation and how to get them into this. And we've done a couple of things. One is we have a sustainable investing fellowship where we actually bring students from business schools, universities, from other traditional disciplines into Morgan Stanley to work during the summer with us on a specific project or set of services and products around sustainability.

    But where, again, our lens is that sustainability is a part of a core financial product and service, not sort of a side or a dilution of it. And so what does that look like? And then we also do you are Morgan Stanley sustainable investing challenge where we issue, and again, right now we're also just in the recruiting phase of it. So anyone who is in business school, we should think about it. We issued a call to graduate students globally to bring us your best idea. That is for a financial product. So not a company in this case, for a financial product that you believe can be scalable, that can be appropriate risk adjusted rates of return to really attract mainstream capital. And that also delivers a positive environmental and social benefit. We've done this for about six or seven years.

    And the first year we thought we've made that strike zone so tight. A scalable commercial financial product that also delivers environmental, social, are we going to get more than three applicants? And we've gotten hundreds and thousands of applicants in terms of students, different schools. I think our last one we know we had we had several hundred teams from more than more than 35 schools around them around the globe. And they come up with these amazing ideas. It shows you that the next generation just really can't fathom in many ways why you would undertake your life's work as something that makes money at the expense of all the other things that they value. 

    Schreane: Great, great initiatives. And I'm wondering, too, in terms of the work that you're doing, you're you're just a wonderful advocate for this work, as well as for Morgan Stanley. You also were the chief marketing officer. 

    So is there a line between being just extremely proud of the work that your firm is doing and really socializing that work, the line between that and maybe seen in some way as tooting your own horn? I mean, how does that work to balance being a chief sustainability officer as well as a chief marketing officer? 

    Choi: You know, it's a great question because the first number of years when I was just working on the sustainable investing side, I often actually would you know, people say, oh, isn't this just like good marketing? No, no, no. This is not marketing. We are not part of the marketing division. And then a number of years later, I was asked to also become our chief marketing officer. 

    And, I have to say, I think that at this moment in time, it actually makes a ton of sense, because, frankly, what consumers want today, what clients want is they do want brands that they feel stand for something and stand up for doing the right thing. 

    I feel like because Morgan Stanley has been focused on sustainable investing, long before I was a part of our marketing organization,  that this is really more just the alignment of the two things. And we're not changing anything that we're doing for sustainability because of the marketing. We are, as you said, sort of using marketing to talk about it, among other things. But again, I think we view it not as trying to toot our own horn or what not, but really trying to think, trying to say, what's of service to you or to our clients and frankly, all the questions that you've been asking or the questions that our clients are asking, which is I think I may be interested in this sustainable investing.

     But you know what? Here's all the myths that I've heard. Are they true? What are the facts? What are those strategies? What are the possibilities for it? So I think I feel very comfortable because we've been doing this work on sustainability for such a long time. It's not like we're doing something differently because of marketing. We just happen to now also be talking about it. And fundamentally, really also it aligns with our firm values, right? Our firm values actually are to do the right thing, to give back, to lead with exceptional ideas and to put the client first. So we feel like they've been really fortunate that they're all consistent. 

    Schreane: Great. So finally, Audrey, speaking of leading with exceptional ideas, what is the big idea? What do you see happening in 2020 and beyond that is really going to knock our socks off, take us by surprise in the world of sustainability, in the world of impact investing. What big idea do you see really coming to the forefront? 

    Choi: I would say one general thing, one specific thing, like the general thing is, I think, that this is just going to continue to accelerate. For years now, I've sort of felt a little bit like the, grandfather clock in the hallway that says that no matter what time of day you go by, it says it's at the same time, because the last 10 years I've been saying this is really going to be mainstream. This is material to business. This is a growing field and it's always been growing. 

    But now I think the exponential growth has been so clear that people are really focusing on and you're seeing a tremendous influx of activity into the space. And so that's sort of a secular trend that's going to continue.

    The more specific thing that I will confess that, you know, we're very excited about. And in a slight cheat, we started in 2019. But I think it's really going to continue, is we just made a major step in April of 2019. We did a major firm commitment, which we've called the Morgan Stanley Plastic Waste Resolution. And this emerged because we're really thinking with all this work we've been doing on sustainability, there are also a few specific issues that really need some focus, attention. And we did a lot of thinking really came back again against this issue of plastic waste. I'm sure your readers or probably your listeners probably read and heard a lot about it of late. Plastic was actually only invented 70 years ago. Wow. 70 years ago, there was some innovation and some research and some serendipity in the lab that led to this clear substance in the bottom of the test tube. 

    And over the course of the next 20 years, entrepreneurship and innovation and all sorts of things, start to become something that came into widespread use over the last 50 years. It has now permeated every single element of our economy and daily lives, which is terrific because it has all these great properties that we didn't have before. Right. It's malleable, it's stretchable, it's lightweight. It's done incredible things for medicine, in terms of reducing infection, in terms of reducing food waste, light-weighting cars to reduce their climate impact. 

    But it's also had this problem that this chemical substance is not bio degraded by nature because nature didn't invent it. We did. And so nature doesn't know how to biodegrade it. And we haven't actually yet quite figured it out ourselves. And so we now have 5 billion metric tons of plastic waste sitting in our rivers, oceans, landfills and landscapes, and about half of that was only ever used one single time. Right. And so because it's mostly been used as packaging. And so if you think about that plastic grocery bag that's often has an active life of about 12 minutes and then it might disintegrate for decades, if not centuries before it becomes micrograms of plastic that come back to us in our water, in our food, in our salt. 

    Anyway, I could go on but I won't. But I think what's interesting is, you know, again, we started thinking about this is a massive problem. It's not just an environmental problem. It's actually throughout the entire economy. It's through the value chain of just about every industry. And if we're going to solve this, you can't say it's all X, Y, Z, companies or industries’ responsibility to do it. 

    We will have to think about a systems approach. How do you think about everything from the chemist, the materials engineer or the product packaging designer and the consumers as well as government officials and then the people managing public dumps or whatever else? 

    In terms of recycling and the full lifecycle, we thought, wow, that's a big hairy issue that no one alone can do. And certainly Morgan Stanley alone can’t do it. But all those different players I just mentioned, we work with all of them as clients. 

    With public, with governments, with sovereigns, with large corporations and the chemical company, consumer packaging and consumers. And so we put together this resolution, said, you know what, together we want to help facilitate the prevention, reduction, removal of 50 million tons of plastic waste between now and 2030. We're really excited at what we've seen so far. When we when we first launched the announcement, we started with a proof of concept with the World Bank and we did a 10 million dollar bond issuance for the World Bank, where the proceeds were dedicated towards marine health and plastic waste reduction. Fast forward six months later, we had the opportunity to work with Pepsi to help them issue their first billion dollar green bond with the bulk of the proceeds dedicated towards helping them reduce by 35 percent the virgin plastic in their beverage chain by 2025. And when you see that even just that trajectory along, you know, a 10 million proof of concept in April, a billion dollar bond in September, and a major player like Pepsi thinking holistically about their value chain, about their supply and what the impact is of that. 

    You know, overall, that's when you start to actually begin to scratch the surface of systems change. So for 2020, I'm really excited to see the continued acceleration of this, where we really see, you know, all different parties coming together. Corporates, financial institutions, consumers all together are saying we can do better than throwing away a hundred billion dollars worth of economic value every year in the form of one time plastic usage. I mean, since you and I have been talking, maybe 30 million disposal water bottles have been used around the world. We can do better than that. It's in perspective.

    Schreane: Well, it sounds like collaboration is the key. And your career has been about bringing these groups together, working in government as well as in corporate. So collaboration really seems to be the way forward. 

    Choi: You're absolutely right. All of our challenges are too big for us to do it individually. 

    Schreane: Audrey Choi, thank you so much for joining us today. 

    We invite you to subscribe to the Refinitiv Sustainability Perspectives podcast on iTunes, Spotify or where ever you stream your content. What did you think about the podcast? Leave us a review on iTunes. Or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter for updates on our show. Thank you for joining. See you next time.

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