Q&A with Anna Skarbek and her message to the PM June 2019


Anna Skarbek, CEO of ClimateWorks Australia and founding director of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, is the newest member of the board of Impact Investment Group (IIG). She speaks with Industry Moves about the important role that the investment management industry can take in promoting a low-carbon economy and also shares with us a message for the Prime Minister.

Why did you decide to take the board role with IIG?

“I love being around people working on win win win solutions, and IIG are a really innovative team. I’m keen to help IIG scale, and keen to be around their energy and the ideas they’re exploring.

What do you hope to achieve in the role?

To help IIG scale, but broader than that to help the market itself scale, so it’s not just IIG doing this, but that IIG does it in a way that makes it attractive for all other kind of investors to shape businesses and investments that also yield social and environmental improvements.

You've worked globally and locally in this sector for some time, what do you think are the main challenges in Australia to achieving a low-carbon economy?

The politics around climate change have been turbulent in Australia. And underneath that is a challenge that’s world-wide; that is undertaking the transition to a cleaner economy in a way that is sustainable in every sense of the word.

What can the investment management community do now (and into the future) to promote and build a low-carbon economy?

Lots! Demonstrate and showcase that it can be done. There are already many examples of win win win outcomes, of commercial projects that when done thoughtfully also add social and environmental outcomes. The race is to reach scale and make that become the norm. One of the gaps is awareness that it’s achievable now, and there’s value in showing that can be done in a cookie cutter approach, with impact investors cutting the first cookies. And then do the effort to make it become more widely deployed.

What do you hope the current government can do? (What would be your message to the current Prime Minister?)

Support long term goal setting, so that there’s a wide understanding of the trajectory we can be on to a cleaner, greener economy, and allow innovation to flourish and be supported to scale up faster than it might naturally because its a race against time for a lot of these issues. Support each sector to see what its path to a zero-emissions economy can be.

What is your biggest concern for future generations?

That we don’t do this in time.

And a little about you...

Where did you grow up and what was it like?

I grew up in Glen Waverley, suburban Melbourne. I had a comfortable 70s-80s childhood. My dad arrived from Poland as a kid, and he and mum took us on lots of nature-based holidays; orienteering, skiing camping. Having seen what Dad saw in Europe they invested in a good education and allowed us kids to thrive. My mum was a scientist at a pathology lab and my dad was an engineer at the SEC. They invested in stability for us, and a healthy natural environment and home life, which allowed us to choose our own futures.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

When you want to throw yourself into good work, or into your work, remember that it’s a long game and investing in your own health, wellbeing and fun is an important part of the game, and part of the sustainability picture. Those younger years are fun, make the most of it.

View Anna Skarbek's profile