(Bloomberg) -- All of the Republican-led backlash against ESG investing has presented the industry with an opportunity to reinvent itself. At least that’s the view of several ESG supporters at a marquee sustainable-investing conference in Boston.

Delaware State Treasurer Colleen Davis said it’s a good thing that more conversation is centered on the future of environmental, social and governance factors because it will help the investment strategy become better defined.

“The frustration is that it’s taken so long,” she said Monday during a panel discussion at the Greenfin 23 conference.

The acronym ESG was coined in 2004 by a team affiliated with the United Nations. Since then, the label has been used to market a proliferation of financial products and activities, which has attracted trillions of dollars of investment and also the wrath of GOP politicians who say the money is ultimately being used to back liberal causes.

Robert Eccles, a professor at University of Oxford’s Said Business School who has focused on sustainability for more than a decade, said he has found common ground with a number of moderate Republicans on climate change and other ESG issues. He advised delegates at the conference, which drew 850 attendees, to start bridging the political divide.

“Start making friends with Republicans,” he said.

Vermont State Treasurer Mike Pieciak, a Democrat, agreed. He said his father is a Republican and he has worked under a GOP governor. “It’s important to break through the political walls,” he said. And that can be done through relationships and conversations.

The comments come after Larry Fink, chief executive officer of BlackRock Inc. whose fallen in the crosshairs of Republicans for being too vocal on sustainable investing, said at an event over the weekend that he was no longer going to mention the ESG acronym.

“I’m not going to use the word ESG because it’s been misused by the far left and the far right,” Axios cited him as saying.

Read more: ESG Investing Goes Quiet After Republican Attacks

The debate has “brought people to the table” and that’s a good thing, said Aeisha Mastagni, a money manager at the California State Teachers’ Retirement System.

Matthew Sekol, who works at Microsoft Corp. and calls himself an advocate for sustainability, said ESG needs to be better defined. Right now it’s an amorphous, vague strategy that incorporates ESG factors into financial calculations. “It’s a hot mess,” he said.

Because of the opposition from politicians, companies are talking less about their sustainability efforts — a phenomenon called “greenhushing” — and that presents a “real danger” for attaining green goals, Sekol said.

When companies don’t communicate, they can’t collectively solve problems such as climate change, he said at the GreenFin 23 conference.

“It prevents moving the needle forward,” he said. “Many of the long-term, systemic issues that we face can’t be solved in a vacuum.”

(Adds comments from Vermont official in seventh paragraph.)

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