When foundations and wealthy individuals launched their Rapid Response-Able Fund (RRAF) in spring 2020, commentators sneered at the “save the world” motivation while others said it would distract attention from the political changes that were needed.
But at $10bn (€9bn), with plans to scale quickly to $100bn, interest in corporate boardrooms snowballed. RRAF would target the worst actors rather than invest in sustainability leaders.. And it would act using the standard activist strategy of taking a meaningful stake in the target company, as well as writing an open letter to the board with a clear, practical list of demands including placing between one and three directors.
RRAF’s first multi-billion dollar initiative was to save the Amazon. The business case for investing in biodiversity and forestry by those who could take a genuinely long-term view was clear. And the reputation risks to the worst actors – given the huge public outcry had already begun to put licenses to operate at risk.
RRAF took a meaningful stake in three companies. The boardroom struggles extended beyond a year and the first meetings included many fireworks. But the well-argued demands were embraced by most of the other board directors. Some did not want to risk getting blacklisted internationally and others faced intense pressure at home from their children.