Ending the year in the spirit of sustainability

Top holiday reads from sustainability experts 2023

December 20236 min readESG, Impact

With 2023 coming to an end, another year filled with its own set of extraordinary, impactful achievements, it's the perfect time to reflect on the lessons learned and set our focus on the sustainable future ahead of us. In this spirit, responsAbility’s experts have teamed up to put together a list of inspiring book suggestions to add a spark of sustainability and impact to your holidays. Presenting the top book picks from our team to end 2023 with sustainability in mind:

“SOLAR” - by Ian McEwan.

The term "solar" in this novel is actually about a groundbreaking technology development in artificial photosynthesis, - but this is more a backdrop to a story that follows a physicist's personal and professional challenges (and there are quite a few). The book takes a more satirical perspective on climate change (and is from 2010, so this is pre-Greta times). Most telling is a trip of the central character to the Arctic to "see climate change", only to find himself being the only scientist among a bunch of artists who have very creative ideas and views on the issue. So this novel is not strictly about "sustainability", but it is a very good novel and I can promise, Ian McEwan's writing style is amazing.   - Martin Heimes, Head of Private Debt, Member of EM

“MINISTRY FOR THE FUTURE” – Kim Stanley Robinson

Ministry for the Future is a climate fiction novel that outlines how catastrophic the consequences of climate change are - opening with a harrowing heatwave in India that kills millions - while highlighting systemic solutions. The scale of the task is daunting, and current progress feels slow, but this book shows that if there is political and civil will there are many routes to systemic change. Honestly, it's a bit long, but the chapters are short, and it's easy to plough through. The headquarters of the global 'Ministry for the Future' is in Zurich, so there are many familiar haunts for the Swiss sustainable finance scene. The book explores what would push us to prioritize climate action, and the moral ambiguity of some effective measures. - Harriet Jackson, Team Head of SF Debt SSA

“A HARVEST OF THORNS” - Corban Addison

Based on the real-world fashion industry's worst industrial accident – the Rana Plaza collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which killed more than 1,100 workers, this book follows fictional characters in the global fashion industry and is set in a number of countries. Their stories come to life and will be engraved in your mind far longer than a dry article on the human rights issues within the fashion industry, not to mention corporate cover ups. But don't think this book is worth reading simply to learn more about human rights issues - it's an easy read that will keep you turning the pages long past your bedtime.  - Louise Corbett, Senior ESG Officer

"THE MONK OF MOKHA” - Dave Eggers

A heart-pounding true story, The Monk of Mokha weaves together the history of coffee, the ongoing Yemeni civil war, and the courageous journey of a young man - a Muslim and a US citizen - following the most American of dreams. Mokhtar's tale starts out as a story of second-generation immigrant assimilation and becomes a history of coffee culture. Like all other of Dave Egger's books this one also doesn't play around too much, but cuts to the chase and sticks with it, which makes it even more adventurous and even harder to put down. - Paul Hailey, Head of Impact & ESG

“THE SNOW LEOPARD PROJECT” - Alex Dehgan

The reader is provided with a detailed account of the author's challenging journey across Afghanistan, where he endeavors to preserve landscapes of a war-ravaged region. This book invites to raise awareness of nature conservation in areas that have been forgotten due to major security and war-related issues. It teaches conservation in war /post-war zones and how to make an impact without the power of authority, but the power of education and conviction instead. The book suggests, that nature can only be protected in close cooperation with the local people. If you want to learn more about how culture, religion and people's way of life can shape and preserve ecosystems, this book is a must-read for you. - Gabriela Valencia, Investment Associate

“ADVENTURE FINANCE ” - Aunnie Patton Power

Adventure Finance describes the different structures that startups and investors (founders and funders) can have in place to achieve great impact together. An interesting and enjoyable read for all our non-finance-background people, since it describes all these seemingly confusing processes in approachable language, so one can learn a lot, without feeling like studying a new language on the side. It is also quite aligned with the topic of steward ownership, backed by decades of research and therefore dives deeper into the world of sustainability driven and living businesses. - Taylla Scapim, Business Innovation Manager

“THE AGE OF RESILIENCE” - Jeremy Rifkin

The book talks about the coming end of the industrial age, the age of efficiency, the age of profit disconnected from all the other things that make all things flourish. The author gives us a window into a promising new world and a radically different future that can bring us back into nature's fold, giving life a second chance to flourish on Earth. History, society, biology, and psychology all come together in one story and claim, that for all living things to survive in the future, we need to start thinking and acting in new ways that understand how everything is connected. Instead of telling one what to do, the book suggests changing the way we see ourselves. And it does a really good job of making that happen. - Camille Savoie, Junior Business Developer

“THE MONK WHO SOLD HIS FERRARI” - Robin Sharma

Written by motivational speaker and author by Robin Sharma, this book narrates Julian Mantle's transformative journey as he sells possessions to study virtues in the Himalayas. It advocates for a post-materialistic society. Sharma's fable, "About Fulfilling Your Dreams and Reaching Your Destiny," provides a step-by-step approach to living with courage, balance, abundance, and joy. Following Mantle's journey, the narratives guide personal and collective transformation toward a sustainable and meaningful existence. - Vishal Gusani, Senior Transaction Officer

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