Tag: Additional Articles

Moving Beyond Child Labor-Faith Investors Must Pay Greater Attention to Market Decisions-by Julie Tanner-Christian Bros Investment Serv

Moving Beyond Child Labor: Faith Investors Must Pay Greater Attention to Impacts on Children from Our Market Decisions

By Julie Tanner, Christian Brothers Investment Services

Julie Tanner-CBIS(Above – Julie Tanner at the Vatican attending the Address of his Holiness Pope Francis during The Congress on Child Dignity in the Digital World that was held in November 2019.)

Faith investors have long engaged companies and governments on exploitative practices involving child labor. They have also weighed in on negative infant formula marketing, violent video games, and obesity impacts from junk food over the past four decades. In fact, faith investors are typically the first shareowners to flag negative business impacts on children.

However, children are increasingly affected by corporate practices extending far beyond labor and other traditional focus issues. It is critical for faith investors to take the lead in highlighting the full range of harms facing young people, and build broad coalitions to work with companies and governments to advance children’s rights.

At Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS), we have focused on protecting children from sexual exploitation online since 2016. Our work on this issue has revealed a larger problem: Too often, children are not considered in corporate dialogues on human rights, or the due diligence companies conduct before launching a product or service. We hope that by working together, investors can help change that dynamic.

When CBIS became the first investor to engage tech, social media, and telecom companies on child sexual exploitation four years ago, few businesses were discussing this growing threat. We drew inspiration from Pope Francis’ sense of urgency on the issue, and Catholic social doctrine that implores us “to engage in a battle… against the violations of the dignity of [children] caused by sexual exploitation.”

At the time, there wasn’t much research to make an investment case for change. We were driven by a moral conviction that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies needed to tackle the escalating spread of child sex abuse material online. When we surveyed our Catholic investors on 40 issues related to human dignity, economic justice and environmental stewardship, child sexual exploitation online emerged as a top concern.

In 2017, CBIS conducted interviews and learning sessions to a broad range of experts on preventing child exploitation. We also began working with child welfare advocates to refine our requests of ICT companies. In addition, CBIS performed due diligence on U.S. and international legal frameworks that compel or prevent companies from taking appropriate action. We discovered that U.S. law compels several types of ICT companies to report child sex abuse content when found, but not to actively seek it out. With that revelation, we knew we needed to raise awareness among fellow investors and build alliances to amass enough influence to convince companies to rethink their core strategies.

Today, CBIS is part of a growing coalition of investors pressuring them to do more to protect children online from sexual harm and broader exploitation. In collaboration with issue experts, we seek to convince ICT companies to improve their practices to more effectively identify, disrupt, and prevent child sexual grooming and abuse on the internet.

Our work focuses not only on eliminating certain activity, but addressing the fact that the entire ecosystem around internet technology is not “fit for purpose” to keep children safe. We now ask companies to assess child rights and risks across their enterprises to truly evaluate their impacts on their most vulnerable stakeholders. We have also raised the issue of “safety by design,” asking ICT companies to consider user and child safety at the start of the process of designing a new device, service, or app.

Beyond moral arguments, we now know there is a strong investment case for these engagements. ICT companies are now widely held components of many investor portfolios. However, without effective practices to protect children from sexual exploitation online, they face brand, reputational, and legal risks. Companies may also feel direct financial consequences in the form of advertiser boycotts. In fact, in addition to engaging the ICT sector, CBIS seeks to exert indirect influence by educating online advertisers to push for higher child safety standards when deciding where to spend their marketing dollars. CBIS has also encouraged data plan and device sellers to ask device makers to consider child protection during the design process.

Since beginning our work with ICT companies, CBIS has seen progress on multiple fronts:

  • Apple Corporation implemented a policy in 2017 of removing apps from its App Store, and reporting the companies to authorities, if they are found facilitating human trafficking or child sex abuse. In 2019, Apple revised its user policies to indicate it was pre-scanning user materials in the iCloud to identify child sex abuse imagery.
  • Facebook has launched a child sexual exploitation video detection tool. After plans for more widespread encryption drew concern from observers, Facebook launched a multi-year plan to detect grooming and child sex abuse through metadata analysis of user information and other tools.
  • Alphabet platform YouTube announced new restrictions on users’ abilities to post comments after family videos received unwanted attention from pedophiles. YouTube also removed hundreds of accounts over these incidents in 2019.
  • Verizon and AT&T agreed to conduct a child rights and risk impact assessment across their businesses in 2020. Both also recently launched internal Online Safety Committees, and now report to their boards on online safety and child exploitation issues.
  • Six of the companies CBIS has engaged have committed to reporting metrics around preventing child sexual exploitation online. All companies we have engaged thus far increased their involvement in initiatives such as child protection groups, abuse reporting hotlines, improved detection tools, and awareness-building campaigns.

In 2019, Pope Francis proclaimed that investors and asset managers must hold ICT companies accountable for eradicating child sex abuse activity from their platforms and products. Now more than ever, investors must galvanize to heed this call to action—and fulfill the the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals to drive down violence and exploitation facing children worldwide.

Together, we must demand better performance and disclosure from companies, identify leading practices, and help spur industrywide cooperation on child protection. With 800,000 children going online for the very first time every day, we are called upon to take responsibility for our investments in the ICT sector by calling for an internet that works for children.

 

Article by Julie B. Tanner, Managing Director – Catholic Responsible Investments SM, Christian Bros Investment Services

Ms. Tanner leads the development and implementation of CBIS’ Catholic Responsible Investments SM Program and oversees a team responsible for Catholic investment screening, engagement and proxy voting activities. In addition, she crafts substantive agreements and strategic initiatives with boards and senior management in order to positively influence corporations and their impact on society. She is a member of the governing board of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) and is a member representative of Partners For The Common Good, which provides critical financial products and services to low-income people and communities.

Prior to joining CBIS in 2002, Ms. Tanner spent ten years in the financial services industry, most recently with JPMorgan Chase, before moving to lead the Finance and Environment Program at National Wildlife Federation. Ms. Tanner holds a B.A. from Rutgers University, an M.B.A. from Pace University, and an M.S. from North Carolina State University.

 

The securities identified and described do not represent all of the securities purchased, sold or recommended for CUIT Funds, CBIS Global Funds and separate managed accounts. For a complete list of securities please contact CBIS. The reader should not assume that an investment in the securities identified was or will be profitable.

Additional Articles, Food & Farming, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Faithful Finance-Strategies for Connecting Values and Capital-by Kate Walsh-Global Impact Investing Network

Faithful Finance: Strategies for Connecting Values and Capital to Generate Real-World Impact

By Kate Walsh, Global Impact Investing Network

Kate Walsh-Global Impact Investing NetworkFaith-based investors have been pioneers in the field of responsible investing for nearly fifty years. In 1971, the Episcopal Church penned the first shareholder resolution addressing a social concern: racial segregation. Empowered by their ownership stake, the church called for General Motors to divest from South Africa until apartheid was ended. Paul Neuhauser, author of the resolution, later reflected on the church’s underlying conviction: “Our view was that, because of the conditions there, they should not operate under such immoral conditions.” That demand ultimately prompted a number of major corporations operating in South Africa to adopt the Sullivan Principles, a set of operating guidelines focused on basic fairness and anti-segregation.

By wielding their power effectively, these early faith-based investors generated change – and sparked a movement. They knew their work was essential fifty years ago, and it is even more important now.

Today, we need an “all hands-on deck” approach as the urgent issues of climate change, racial and social injustice, and inequality reach their tipping points. We also need leadership through varied approaches to solve these crises. Allocating substantial capital to promising solutions is one of the most effective way to address these concerns. Impact investing – that is, investing with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return – offers precisely such an approach.

As the global champion of impact investing, the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) has long recognized the important role of faith-based investors and, in 2019, began a project to deepen our engagement with this community. We sought to understand what might prevent faith-based investors from allocating capital to impact investment and to identify ways that more faith-based assets could be invested in alignment with their missions.

Although the field of faith-consistent investing is wonderfully diverse, three key themes emerged from our research as strategies for faith-based investors to more effectively generate the positive change they seek: realize the opportunity, articulate your impact goals, and work in community.

Realize the opportunity: Impact investing is a natural extension of the values of faith-based investors. However, not all have realized this alignment and, thus, may be missing an important opportunity.  Many faith-based investors told us that they and their financial consultants may have limited knowledge or experience of impact investments. Without that understanding, these investors may overlook the powerful ways that impact investments can align with both the mission and financial goals of their organization. So, broader awareness of the opportunity presented by impact investing is critical.

Key decision-makers must also recognize that impact investments exist across asset classes and across the risk-return spectrum. This means that there is likely an investment product for any faith-based investor appetite. Even for investors who will consider only low-risk and market rate returns for their investment portfolio, there are still opportunities to find impact products that meet asset owners financial and moral goals.

Faith-based shareholders also have an opportunity to advocate in a more internal setting, encouraging their internal managers and decision-makers to learn about impact investing and insisting that these products be offered to the organization. The investors should always decide what purpose is attached to their capital.

Articulating impact goals: In order for faith-based investors to operate more effectively, they must clearly vocalize the end results they are seeking. This is the second strategy uncovered by our research. In the GIIN’s 2019 Annual Impact Investors Survey, some fund managers indicated that their fund simply did not offer a specific impact theme of interest to faith-based investors; the managers listed this as a top challenge. To meet this need, fund managers and advisors will have to reflect on the mission of the faith-based institution. When the institution has clearly articulated its end goals, it is easier for financial advisors and consultants to seek out the right financial opportunities. While there are many products in the market that may match with faith-aligned values, financial institutions may sometimes need to create a new product to meet a specific need of a faith-based organization. However, for such innovation to occur, the first step is a clearly articulated and measurable impact goal.

Come together: The final strategy for realizing a deeper alignment of impact investing in faith-based portfolios is through partnership. This approach is the most complex – and perhaps the most necessary, as it can amplify the effectiveness of the first two strategies.

As faith communities know from their decades of advocacy, there is deep benefit in coming together to share knowledge and grow commitments aimed at achieving meaningful real-world changes. Those same lessons can be applied to faith-based investing efforts. As investors, faith communities must learn from each other, coordinate across different groups, and make their collective capital count. By partnering, both inside and outside their faith, resources are shared, knowledge is spread, and capital can be placed in ways that directly address the pressing challenges we all face.

As 2020 draws to a close, more and more people are seeing the reality that the Episcopal Church shareholders realized back in 1971: that all investments have an impact and that, with intention and focus, those impacts can be positive. Indeed, for faith-based investors, there has never been more urgency to ensuring that your investment capital is impacting the world “for better” – and in accordance with your values.

That underlying vision of a more aligned world offers a host of powerful benefits. Perhaps its most important benefit is the potential to unify people across faiths, and beyond faith, for the betterment of our world. So, let us take action now – building on the lessons of the past and moving toward a brighter future, together.   

 

Article by Kate Walsh, who serves as the Manager of Faith-Based Investors for the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). In this role, Kate networks with faith-based investors to encourage the use of impact investing as a tool to further their missions.  

Previously, Kate served as the Associate Director of Investor Advocates for Social Justice (formerly the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment) where she focused on advocacy regarding food sustainability, financial markets reform and forced labor concerns. In addition, she served as a board member for the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR). She is also experienced in impact measurement having previously been the Manager of Program Evaluation for the Actors Fund.

Kate holds a Masters of Public Administration from the Robert F. Wagner School at NYU and a BS in Management & Politics from Fairfield University.

Additional Articles, Energy & Climate, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Shell International Solar array aerial

Grace vs. Greed: The Church of England Steps into the Climate Breach

By Peter McKillop and Kerrie Sinclair, Climate & Capital Media

A growing band of investment activists led by the Church of England is out to prove that where governments fail, faith (and money) can prevail.

For months the warning signals went ignored. Then at 1:00 pm on January 25, 2019, a vast dam holding iron ore sludge collapsed, swamping the small Brazilian town of Brumadinho with a 26-foot wall of mud, leaving 270 people dead or missing.

After a few token gestures of concern—a ministerial visit, a few arrests, and a $4.7 million fine against the dam owner, Brazilian metals and mining giant, Vale S.A. – Brazil and the $324 billion metals mining industry looked forward to moving on.

It was to be business as usual until a group of influential institutional investors stepped in.

Outraged at the corporate irresponsibility, they vowed to use their combined $14 trillion in financial clout to demand more corporate accountability and oversight of 1,700 mine tailing dams around the world.

The Church of England logoLeading the charge was one of the world’s most progressive institutional shareholders, the Church of England Pensions Board, led by its charismatic director of ethics and engagement, Adam Matthews. Along with the Swedish National Pension Funds, Matthews created a coalition of investors that successfully pressured the mining industry to impose new and far-reaching rules on how the industry monitors mine tailings dams around the world.

“It shouldn’t have happened, and we made a concerted effort, with others, to try to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” Matthews told Climate & Capital Media.

Adam Matthews-photo by Geoff Pugh
Adam Matthews, photo by Geoff Pugh

With $3.1 billion in assets, the Church of England Pensions Board is a relatively small player by institutional money standards. (BlackRock, by comparison, manages $7 trillion in assets.) But, what the Church lacks in assets is more than made up for by Matthews’ passion to mobilize the once-sleepy world of institutional asset managers.

His efforts are on the vanguard of a growing trend among activist institutional investors who are no longer waiting for governments to tackle the world’s most important environmental and social issues, particularly climate change.

Church and State

Most governments continue to ignore the most ambitious Paris Agreement goal to achieve 1.5 degrees Celsius warming limit, instead fast-tracking the Earth’s average temperature to rise by more than 3 degrees Celsius, which would make the planet all but uninhabitable for humans. Taking their cues from years of government lip service, the world’s largest energy companies have continued to not decrease but increase fossil fuel investments.

Activist institutional investors say that tide must turn and so now is the time for radical engagement. With governments dawdling on the sidelines, Matthews is determined to unleash what former Goldman Sachs economist Bob Litterman calls the “awesome power” of the finance industry. By demonstrating what can be done, investors hope it would encourage reluctant governments to step up and follow the lead of institutional money.

“If the government could see that there’s the commitment and intent,” says Matthews, then the role of finance “may be dominant in the equation,” referring to the role of business and finance in solving climate issues.

This is a far cry from the days when institutional fund managers were often part of the problem, not the solution, content to sit back and clip coupons for its pensioners. When they did engage, it was often on the wrong side, invoking their so-called fiduciary duty to push CEOs to maximize returns and reduce costs, regardless of the impact on the environment and the climate.

Now, Matthews and his growing band of activist institutional investors have a new climate agenda. They are demanding emission cuts, seeking changes in business models, supporting climate shareholder votes, and if necessary, threatening to starve companies of capital if they don’t commit to an acceptable future carbon path.

Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance

Their approach is working. Last year, when Royal Dutch Shell announced it would use investor funds to raise oil and gas production, investors rebelled. Asset manager Sarasin & Partners, in a very public letter, warned Shell’s actions threatened “planetary stability.” Matthews and the Church of England Pensions Board, a Shell shareholder, joined the most ambitious climate investor alliance yet, the Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance, which is working to limit warming in its portfolios to 1.5C—a stronger commitment than the Paris Agreement. Matthews also played a central role by engaging with Shell on behalf of Climate Action 100+, an alliance of over 450 investors.

The pressure worked. Within months, Shell dramatically reversed course. It announced it would strive to be a net zero carbon business by 2050. Where it had once pledged to deliver $125 billion in dividends over the next five years, it now announced its first dividend cut since World War II, reflecting what it described as a fundamental shift to become a net zero business. It now aspires to be the world’s largest electricity company.

A Climate Crusade

Investor pressure also forced the Minerals Council of Australia to adopt the “net zero” goal last month. And while the mining body notorious for killing off any meaningful climate action in Australia refused to issue emission-reduction targets, the investors that own its members, soon will. The Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance later this year will specify targets for net-zero-aligned cuts to be achieved by 2025 by all companies in their portfolios, including the miners.

Forces Resignation of Rio Tinto CEO over Aboriginal Rights

And it is not just in the climate fight that companies are feeling the heat. Last month, the chief executive of mining giant Rio Tinto resigned after an outcry from Matthews and others over the company’s destruction of an ancient Aboriginal archeological site.  The Pensions Board, which is an investor in Rio Tinto, demanded the resignation of Jean-Sebastien Jacques after the extent of the damage done to the sites became clear.

“We are in a completely different situation now that causes us to revisit some fundamental assumptions, and I think you’re beginning to see companies grapple with that,” says Matthews.

Matthews believes the energy industry is beginning to see a differentiation between those companies committed to diversifying themselves and taking on new roles as low-carbon energy providers and those “companies that will just be paying back to their shareholders,” says Matthews. “Some will just hold out and that’s where the investment community can be challenged to decide: walk away or try and replace chairs and directors at these companies.”

“We are in a completely different situation now that causes us to revisit some fundamental assumptions”

Not surprisingly, he has intensified his focus on the US oil and gas sector which he says is “hugely behind” its European peers. This spring, the Church of England joined with the New York State Retirement Fund and Legal & General Investment Management to support a shareholder suit opposing the re-election of Exxon CEO and chairman Darren Woods.

Another key element of his engagement strategy is to target the demand side as well as fossil fuel suppliers in order to reduce demand for these fuels and push key industrial sectors to net-zero pathways. This, he says, “means identifying and rapidly overcoming” any blockages in public policy, financing, and technology. The key, he believes, is to bring together industrial buyers and sellers and incentivize them through investments to work together to reduce their collective carbon footprints.

Post Covid-19 Economic Recovery

A critical milestone for climate progress will be accelerating efforts to pressure governments to integrate climate-related initiatives into any post Covid-19 economic recovery plan. Investors are particularly concerned that even the more progressive efforts, like those in the EU, still fail to include formal conditions ruling out member states’ spending on fossil fuels.

The pandemic transition “requires ambitious policy, combined with corporate leadership, combined with investors,” Matthews says.

Brian O’Callaghan, a researcher at the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment told Climate & Capital Media: “As always with policy design, the devil is in the details. It is vital that policymakers get this right. The stakes are high.”

One tactic the Church had avoided is divesting bond and equity holdings in fossil fuel companies. “Divestment is not the answer. As an asset owner, we always retain that right, but it won’t solve the climate crisis,” said Tom Joy, the Church of England Pensions Board chief investment officer, shortly after joining the 26-member Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance.

A Step Towards Divesting

This month, however, the Church of England took its first step towards divesting from ExxonMobil when the Pensions Board announced it had fully divested from the oil giant because the oil company has failed to set goals to reduce emissions produced by its customers. However, the Church of England through other investment entities does continue to own ExxonMobil equity, and according to a spokesperson, “continues to be actively engaged on climate change with ExxonMobil as a shareholder.”

Its reluctance to divest from fossil fuel companies puts the Church and other activist asset owners at odds with more aggressive climate activists like Greta Thunberg, who are pushing for an immediate divestment of all fossil fuel holdings. But climate-conscious investors say they have no choice: So long as governments run from their climate policy-making responsibilities, activist investors cannot divest.

“If everyone who has good ethics divests, only those with bad ethics control the companies,” says Garry Weaven, the former chair of fund manager IFM Investors which manages around $108 billion worth of assets for 27 Australian industry pension funds.

Investors with a Mission

Rather than divest, investors believe that the only way to rouse somnolent governments is by demonstrating that private coalitions of business leaders, prodded by private financial capital, can successfully push companies towards net zero. These actions would then act as a catalyst by setting an example of effective engagement. This, in turn, will make it easier for opportunistic politicians, particularly in the United States, to challenge the stranglehold the oil and gas industry has on governments. Finance, says Matthews, “has got to be absolutely at the table pushing the low-carbon agenda.”

Matthews is a third-generation fan of Liverpool Football Club. Last week his beloved Reds won their first Premier League title in 30 years. Liverpool’s theme song, “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” sums up Matthews’s and the Church‘s determination to never let the vulnerable walk alone in the darkest moments. To the mining industry’s surprise, they stepped up after Brazil’s mine tragedy. Now they are determined to do the same with climate change.

(Feature aerial solar array photo, courtesy of Shell International)

 

Article by Peter McKillop and Kerrie Sinclair

Peter McKillop is the Founder of Climate & Capital Media. Previously Mr. McKillop was a Managing Director at BlackRock, where he was responsible for leading the firm’s strategic communications and messaging for its iShares ETF and Indexing business. He has also held senior communication leadership positions at J.P. Morgan, KKR, UBS, and Bank of America. Before entering the financial communications field, Peter was a senior correspondent and bureau chief for Newsweek in New York, Tokyo, and Hong Kong

Kerrie Sinclair, a U.K.-based journalist who covered finance, renewable energy, and climate policy in Australia for News Ltd. She has also worked at Dow Jones Newswires and AFX News, covering European and U.S.-listed companies and financial markets. 

Climate & Capital Media-GreenMoney-Oct.20

Article originally published by Climate and Capital Media. Reprinted with Permission.

Additional Articles, Energy & Climate, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

The Connection Between Investing and Our Values-by Rachel McDonough-Ameriprise

The Connection Between Investing and Our Values

By Rachel McDonough, Ameriprise Financial Services

Rachel McDonough Ameriprise Financial ServicesThe first time my family moved to Kenya and I experienced interacting with street kids in Nairobi, I was 10-years-old. It was a year of intense learning for me. I learned what it meant to be a minority and to be treated very differently because of my white skin. I also learned that I was wealthy, by comparative measures.

I still recall the first time a young Kenyan boy, about the same age as me, came up to me and asked for money. And, although I was only ten, and didn’t have a job, I did have some spending money in my pocket and I had a choice to make. In my developing understanding of the world around me, I began to realize that capital has influence.

I suppose that moment in Nairobi could have been the starting point for my now decades-long quest to connect money with meaning, and capital with positive impact. You might expect me to tell you next that I also was called into overseas missions, like my parents before me, or started a micro-lending organization to help women in Africa start cottage industries. But God has called me into the financial services industry instead, to serve as a professional advisor to the wealthy, and to do what only a few advisors are willing to do for the affluent: tell them the truth about the connection between their investing and their values.

It is with that unique viewpoint of one who has had a front row seat to both extreme poverty and expansive wealth that I humbly ask for your attention on a widely overlooked opportunity.

It’s estimated that Christians manage over 150 trillion dollars, more than half the world’s wealth. That’s 200 to 300 times greater than what is given philanthropically each year.

Capital has influence, yet many of us have been content to let others determine our investment strategy, or to broadly invest in indexes, not even knowing what companies we own in our investment portfolios. Even worse, if we are passive in this area, we are most certainly (unwittingly) giving capital companies that advance causes we oppose like gambling and pornography.

This is a problem. But I encourage you not to think of it merely in terms of breaking Christian rules of morality. Yes, I believe that when we invest unintentionally, we are not being wise stewards with The Master’s “talents” while he is away and we are probably investing in the campaigns of his enemy, unknowingly buying funds full of companies that steal, kill, and destroy in one way or another…all neatly hidden inside of a pleasant-sounding mutual fund wrapper: The XYZ Growth and Income Fund. But even more than being passive participants in bad business, we’re missing an enormous kingdom opportunity.

Faith-Driven Investor’s website sums it up nicely, “We aren’t owners, we are stewards of the resources that God has given us. This knowledge should radically change the how, where, and why behind our investment strategies. Imagine the impact that would occur when all Christ-following investors — from the rich young ruler to the widow and her mite — use investment capital to deliver community impact, spiritual integration, and financial return. We can take what God has given and put it back into the work He is doing on earth by promoting products and services that further human flourishing. It’s already happening.”

I’ve worked with hundreds of Christian investors over my 18-year career in financial services. I’ve seen inspiring dedication to charitable giving from many of them, even sacrificing their own needs and wants to participate in Kingdom-advancing work around the globe. Some of them have homeschooled their kids for the sake of building Christian values and character into the next generation. Others have taken lower-paying jobs or scaled back their businesses in order to honor God and the priorities of family and Sabbath rest that stem from their sincere faith. Several of them have participated in a company boycott or letter-writing to political leaders. But I’ve had only a small handful of prospective investors seek me out because of their desire to align their investments with their Christian values, and that is the area of expertise for which I’ve become known.

I think most Christian investors share a couple of significant concerns with this idea and I’d like to address the biggest one briefly here.

The Top Concern is Usually Performance

Let’s answer the question, “What will it cost me (in the form of a lower rate of return) to align my investments with my Christian values?” Many Christian investors worry that if they really want to invest with their integrity in-tact, by eliminating companies and industries that do harm (like pornography, gambling, tobacco, etc.) and intentionally seek companies that are creating valuable, positive goods and services that promote human flourishing, there won’t be many attractive investments from which to choose.

To address the effect of exclusionary screening (taking out the negative stuff) on performance, I think the 2019 study from the Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI) Institute does a great job of presenting data in an unbiased manner (which is difficult to find in a world where nearly every academic study is tied to an agenda). It also uses a conservative interpretation of Christian values (meaning more companies would have been removed from this sample than many other faith-based investment companies would remove with their less restrictive approaches). So, this may give us a worst-case scenario of sorts, where we are excluding a larger number of potentially profitable companies, purely for ethical reasons.

In the study, which examined performance from 1/1/2000 to 12/31/2019, a 20-year time period, both the “BRI Screened Portfolio” and the S&P 500 benchmark have an identical 6.19% annualized return. While there were shorter time periods where one or the other outperformed, by the end of the sample 20-year period, they were literally neck and neck.

Note: this does not account for the potential positive impact on performance that could stem from trying to identify positive impact companies, whom we might logically conclude should be more inclined to experience a tailwind in business by way of customer loyalty, positive reviews, referrals, etc.

As a Certified Financial Planner™ professional and a Certified Kingdom Advisor™, I have a duty to act in a fiduciary capacity with my clients and to put their interests ahead of my own. And, while I cannot make specific investment recommendations for you here, in my professional opinion, I believe this style of investing has merit as an investment strategy, in addition to the benefits of contentment, joy and sense of wholeness one might achieve from alignment with one’s values.

A World Shaped by Intentional Christians

I want to encourage you to think of something that’s perhaps more powerful than getting a good return on your investment. Imagine with me what might be possible, and how much positive influence we might achieve together if every believer invested intentionally, acting in unity.

  • What if every one of those 150 Trillion Christian-managed dollars, invested by people just like you and me, was pulled out of the addiction-profiting, cancer-causing tobacco industry and was instead directed into biotech companies searching for a cure for cancer. Maybe the free cigarettes being routinely handed out to children at sporting events and concerts in Indonesia would dry up. We have the power to change it.
  • What if every one of those 150 Trillion Christian-managed dollars that’s currently invested in companies that disproportionately contribute to the pollution crisis was redirected to clean water and clean energy technologies? According to the World Health Organization, “an estimated 4.2 million premature deaths globally are linked to ambient air pollution, mainly from heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and acute respiratory infections in children.” If you think pollution is only important to those who are left-leaning politically, I’d encourage you to note that this statistic is about human suffering. We have the power to change it.
  • Just like I was before my first trip to Kenya, most Americans are very sheltered from the difficult daily realities in other parts of the world. But American Christians hold the lion’s share of Christian-managed investment capital. It’s our retirement funds and education savings accounts that cumulatively comprise a big slice of the total investment capital in the world. We may not always feel wealthy, but we are.

Investors, and the businesses they supply capital to, must step forward with redemptive solutions to the problems that cannot be solved by governments and charities. We have the power to create change by aligning our investments with our values. 

 

Article by Rachel McDonough, an award-winning* Certified Financial Planner™ professional and a Certified Kingdom Advisor with over 18 years of experience, as well as a published author. As a recognized leader in Faith-Driven Investing, she is passionate about helping Christian families live with zero financial regrets by aligning their finances with their faith-driven values, including environmental stewardship. With her Values-Driven Wealth Management Process, clients can plan wisely for their future and make a positive impact for the next generation. Rachel founded Make Your Money Count, LLC in 2009 with the goal of making this highly personalized process accessible to clients across the country through technology. To learn more, please visit my website.

* Named a Five Star Wealth Manager for 2013, 2014, 2016, 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Additional Articles, Impact Investing

Pioneer in Faith and Finance for 50 Years-The United Church of Christ-by Timothy Smith-Boston Trust Walden

The United Church of Christ: Pioneer in Faith and Finance and a Force for Change 50 Years Later

By Timothy Smith, Boston Trust Walden

The United Church of Christ (UCC) was present at the creation of a new era in the intersection of faith and finance. It was a crossroads moment, but few were aware of its significance at the time.

United Church of Christ logoIn the early 1970s, energized by the anti-war and anti-apartheid movements, the women’s movement, and the battle for civil rights, Protestant denominations began to examine how their religious values and social justice positions were reflected in their investing and business decisions. For many years, these existed as different realities in the Church, creating an informal split where the social justice agencies of the Church and the financial offices operated with two different and separate agendas. But that was soon to be challenged, and profoundly so.

By the early 70’s, the UCC’s General Synod had passed resolutions challenging the racist system of apartheid in South Africa, critical of the Vietnam war, and affirming protections for the environment. The Corporate Information Center based in the National Council of Churches began to bridge the gap between statement and action and started looking at major U.S. companies with investments in South Africa, or contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense in support of the war. The connection had been made, and soon there were newspaper stories exposing the fact that denominations owned stock in Dow Chemical, the maker of napalm, or banked with Citibank, then one of the major lenders to the South African government. And, of course, from a theological perspective, it was logical to believe that all the resources and agencies of denominations should be consistently working together for peace and racial justice.

However, translating that belief into reality was not so simple. The social justice staffs in denominations usually had limited skills in investment, and finance and treasurers’ offices were focused on budgets and the financial health of the denomination. Still, a robust discussion started on Christian ethics and investing, examining the ethical soundness of owning stock in companies that made napalm or cluster bombs and considering our leverage as a stockholder in companies where we wanted to raise social justice and moral issues.

Amidst these discussions, the predecessor of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) was born with the support of five denominations, including the UCC. ICCR began the task of coordinating work in the faith community on responsible investing and advocacy with corporations.

The UCC was a pioneer joining with a few others to file shareholder resolutions with companies, bringing important issues to the desks of management and for votes at shareholder meetings. There was no roadmap on how to proceed in this space. Neither investors nor companies had experience in discussions on sensitive issues like investing in apartheid South Africa or strip mining. But into the unknown the United Church of Christ walked. After filing a shareholder resolution with Mobil Oil requesting that the company evaluate and report to shareholders on their operations in South Africa, to our surprise the General Counsel of the company offered to talk and eventually agreed to provide the requested report for investors. This was the first “agreement” resulting from a shareholder resolution, and the UCC was the sponsor and stimulus. A win-win with compromises on both sides.

Apartheid was a prominent focus in those early days, but it wasn’t the only one. Because of our interfaith connection and at the suggestion of the Episcopal Church, the UCC helped create a public hearing in Puerto Rico focusing on the environmental hazards of a proposed copper strip mine in the middle of the island, a huge environmental disaster in the making. This Church-led hearing, which included testimony from the mining company as well as environmental experts, stimulated widespread publicity and unearthed environmental risks that were formerly unexamined. In the end, the permit was pulled for the mine.

“Success” in these early days included getting a three or five percent vote on a shareholder resolution and the accompanying publicity on the important issue being raised. These examples remind us that the UCC has 50 years of history in the area of faith and finance. We were a key creator and pioneer, a lonely prophet at times, and a sensible moral voice in the boardroom at other times.

Let’s jump forward almost half a century. The context for the Sustainable Responsible Impact (SRI) investor is a very different one today. In 2020, the Principles for Responsible Investing (PRI) has global investor members with over $100 trillion in assets affirming their belief that Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing is a duty because these issues affect the company bottom line. The UCC is an active member of PRI.

The Climate Action 100+ campaign, which addresses some of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters, is made up of investors with over $40 trillion in assets, including the Pension Boards of the UCC, BlackRock, and JPMorgan Chase. They have presented a specific set of climate demands to these companies.

In 2020, twenty social- and climate-related shareholder resolutions resulted in winning votes of over 50 percent and dozens more with votes in the 40-50 percent range, which demonstrates expanding support by investors for these resolutions. There were also dozens of negotiated agreements, when investors and companies worked to find joint agreements that captured progress and allowed for a shareholder resolution to be withdrawn.

As a sign of the expanded engagements by large investors, in 2020, BlackRock announced it was engaging with over 200 companies that needed to improve their climate performance and created a “watch list” of companies threatening to vote against their boards if substantial improvements were not made.

On the corporate side, virtually all large companies now do Sustainability Reports that help them measure, manage, and report on their work to be a sustainable and responsible company. Many include strong climate and diversity goals and describe how they believe their work on sustainability contributes to the bottom line. In 2019, 189 CEOs who were members of the Business Roundtable (BRT) made a joint statement declaring their belief that companies needed to be responsible to stakeholders and not just stockholders (to employees, customers, and communities, for example). While some of the issues being raised by ESG investors have decades of history (diversity, good governance, human rights, expanded transparency), many are new issues. These include plastic pollution, dangerous chemicals in products, food safety, and fair treatment of employees—whether these are U.S. workers facing COVID-19 in the workplace or the safety of factories in Bangladesh. The UCC has worked specifically on the issue of migrant worker health and safety as well as the safety of poultry workers at Tyson Food and forced labor in Chinese factories.

The issue of companies using their considerable stature and dollars to influence public policy has been on investors’ agendas for over a decade. One subset of that discussion is how companies and their trade associations have been lobbying on climate-related issues. Many trade associations have been forceful in blocking forward-looking climate regulations and legislation over the years. Investors including the prestigious Climate Action 100+ coalition have championed this issue with key companies. In Europe there has been considerable success with 15 companies, including Shell and BP, analyzing and evaluating their trade associations’ climate policies, putting some “on watch,” and withdrawing from a few associations with which they disagree on climate.

This same request for a full review of direct and indirect climate lobbying was presented to over 45 U.S companies last year by global investors with over $6 trillion in assets under management.

In addition, investors filed resolutions with several U.S. companies on “climate lobbying.” The resolution to Chevron received a remarkable 53% vote, reflecting strong investor support for a such new initiatives. It is expected that a greater number of dialogues will take place and similar resolutions filed during the remainder of 2020 and through 2021. This obviously raises the profile and may be a force for a changed company voice on climate policy going forward. A taste of things to come!

Today, the UCC is doing its socially responsible investing work in a new and rapidly changing environment. What are the component parts of the UCC’s work moving into this new decade?

Of course, there are basic screens that avoid particular companies or industries such as tobacco, firearms, gaming, and oil/tar sands. And General Synod has given strong guidance and criteria on fossil fuel companies to avoid.

Faith-based investors seek to have all asset cases they utilize be consistent with their faith values. The UCC has looked at fixed income and has invested $300 million in social and green bonds, such as renewable energy and women and minority-owned businesses, and in the private equity arena, joining investments on climate, education and health.

As an “active owner” and engaged investor, the UCC works with other concerned shareowners and uses its voice and leverage as a stockholder to influence company policies, practices, and behavior. This active engagement includes:

  • Writing letters to management, either as the UCC or working with others
  • Joining in public statements on issues like COVID-19 and company responsibilities;
  • Participating in dialogue with management
  • Filing shareholder resolutions to press a specific request with a company in the hope of finding common agreement
  • Sending representatives to speak at stockholder meetings
  • Voting proxies as a responsible owner
  • Working on public policy issues, such as protecting shareholder rights at the SEC and supporting investor use of ESG investing (under attack by the Department of Labor, which is presenting a new proposal limiting ERISA pension funds)
  • Publicly educating UCC members and other investors

The big question as we do this work has been and continues to be: Does it have an impact and make a difference? Or are we religious Don Quixotes, tilting at corporate windmills?

Fortunately, we can point to a history of demonstrated impact over five decades! We have not always been successful and there is still progress to be made. But clearly, we can say that the pioneer record and spirit of the UCC in the area of faith and finance planted seeds years ago that are blossoming today.

 

Article by Timothy Smith, a graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York City. While at Union and after graduation he worked at the Council for Christian Social Action of the UCC as their staff person on Southern Africa. Tim assisted in the founding of the ecumenical work that led to the formation of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), serving as its Executive Director. He was involved in the very first church-sponsored shareholder resolutions in the early 1970s.

Since 2000, he has been the Director of Shareowner Engagement for the investment firm Boston Trust Walden. He has also served on the Board and Principles Committee of Wespath, the pension board of the United Methodist Church. Tim attends South Church in Andover, UCC, in Massachusetts.

This article was originally published in Generations Journal from the Pension Boards – United Church of Christ, Inc. Operating at the intersection of faith and finance. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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The VERGE20 Conference Goes Virtual-GreenMoney

The VERGE 20 Conference Goes Virtual October 26-30 to Accelerate the Clean Economy

Climate change is the most significant global threat we face today. It also represents an unprecedented opportunity to build a clean economy by electrifying and decarbonizing our world, equitably and profitably. Momentum is building as businesses and governments transform their organizations to be more efficient and resilient.

The VERGE 20 online event is the leading platform for accelerating the clean economy. Join more than 15,000 leaders (online this year) — from the private and public sectors, utilities, solution providers, investors, and startups — advancing systemic solutions to address the climate crisis through five key markets: clean energy, electrified transportation, the circular economy, carbon removal and sustainable food systems.

VERGE Energy
The VERGE Energy conference explores decarbonizing, decentralizing, digitizing and democratizing global energy systems, with professionals in energy management and procurement from corporations and governments, as well as allied service providers, innovators, developers, financiers and utilities.

VERGE Transport
The VERGE Transport conference explores how to create clean, electrified transportation systems that are accessible to all by bringing together fleet managers, utilities, vehicle manufacturers, policy makers, transportation planners, infrastructure developers and entrepreneurs.

VERGE Circular
The VERGE Circular conference focuses on the tools, tactics and systems leadership companies are using to shift their products and services from linear to circular. From product design and business strategy to closed-loop supply chains and enabling infrastructure, it brings together professionals in supply chain, logistics, sustainability, packaging design, marketing and other functions..

VERGE Carbon
The VERGE Carbon conference focuses on unlocking the value of carbon pollution by using it to create innovative products, materials and services. The conference brings together professionals from carbon markets, carbon capture and sequestration, product and materials innovation, building and construction, land management, energy production, forestry, food and agriculture, and supply chains.

VERGE Food
The VERGE Food conference showcases the leaders, organizations and innovations that are creating more sustainable ways to produce, distribute and consume food. It focuses on the challenges and opportunities in providing healthy affordable food for all, and the strategies, technologies, products and packaging that will enable us to do so sustainably and profitably.

This year’s speakers include: Lisa Jackson of Apple; Bill McKibben
of 350.org; Varshini Prakash of Sunrise; Maria Pope of Portland General Electric; Philip Saunders of City of Seattle; Angela Hultberg of IKEA Group; Gina McCarthy of NRDC; Michael Tubbs of City of Stockton; Carla Peterman of Southern California Edison; Ashley White of Amazon.

Sign up here to attend the October 2020 online event.

 

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World Tree USA Becomes Most Successful Female-Founded Company on Wefunder

World Tree USA Becomes the Most Successful Female Founded Company Ever on Wefunder

Started by Wendy Burton in 2015, World Tree USA, LLC recently surpassed $2M on the Equity Crowdfunding Platform. This marks the third most successful capital raise in Wefunder’s history and the highest amount raised by any female founder.

Above photo: World Tree founder Wendy Burton (on the left) inspecting a farm in Costa Rica with World Tree’s Program Manager in Costa Rica, Mariana Alfaro Stivalet.

 

Wefunder is a giant in the industry. It is the largest equity crowdfunding platform in the US, with nearly 42% of the current market according to Crowdfund Capital Advisors. In the 9 years since it was founded in 2011, Wefunder has helped hundreds of companies raise almost $170 million.

The majority of that money has gone to male-founded companies. Of the 330 most-funded companies on Wefunder, only 18% were female founded.

And then there is World Tree.

World Tree is an agroforestry company that is breaking all the norms. It offers accredited and non-accredited investors the opportunity to participate in a timber investment through its Eco-Tree Program; a investment that creates direct environmental benefits relating to forest conservation, carbon sequestration, and promoting healthy ecosystems. The Eco-Tree Program leverages the fast-growth rate of the non-invasive Empress (Paulownia) tree to maximize the economic and environmental benefits of agroforestry.

World Tree’s objective is to meet the growing global demand for timber in a sustainable way. The Empress (Paulownia) tree has been rated the fastest growing hardwood tree in the world, maturing in only 10 years to produce a timber that has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any hardwood commercially grown. While growing, the tree sequesters unparalleled amounts of carbon, the main cause of climate change. One acre of Empress (Paulownia) trees can absorb up to 90 metric tons of carbon per year. That is four times as much carbon as the average American family of 4 produces in one year.

World Tree with Empress wood samples at Social Finance Forum
World Tree’s Chief Investment Officer, Angela Nauta (left) with samples of Empress (Paulownia) wood at The Social Finance Forum in Toronto with Rita Fromholt, Marketing and SDG Special Projects Coordinator (center), and Dr. Cathy Key, World Tree’s President and Chief Operations Officer (right).

“Our investors love to back companies that are tackling an important cause,” says Nick Tommarello, Founder & CEO of Wefunder. “There are not many issues more important to our generation than climate change, so I’m not surprised World Tree raised over $2 million on Wefunder. It’s a win-win where investors hope to earn a return while helping the planet.”

Dr. Cathy Key, President & Chief Operations Officer of World Tree had this to say about working with Wefunder, “We had previously worked with two crowdfunding platforms in Canada where 95% of our investors came from our own database. By tapping into Wefunder’s database of over 400,000 investors, we were able to expand our reach significantly. Now, 80% of our investors are new to us. On top of this, the passionate team at Wefunder introduced us to financial advisors who helped spread the word even further.”

“Wefunder has taken a stand for equality by supporting female and minority founded companies and has been instrumental in our phenomenal growth,” adds Dr. Cathy Key. “We look forward to being back on the platform in the New Year with our next offering.

Currently, World Tree is conducting a $10.5 million Regulation A+ securities offering; the “2020 Eco-Tree Program” in the United States with Sustainable Wealth Management Firm Vanderbilt Financial Group (Vanderbilt Securities) named as the placement agent. This gives accredited and non-accredited investors access to invest in the Eco-Tree Program.

 

WorldTree logoWorld Tree USA, LLC (“World Tree”) is an agroforestry company focused on promoting the environmental and economic benefits of the Empress (Paulownia) tree. Founded in 2015 by Wendy Burton, the World Tree management team includes foresters, agronomists and scientists with extensive experience with agroforestry and, over 30 years of experience working with the Empress (Paulownia) tree. World Tree grows 18 exclusive non-invasive varieties. World Tree is the largest grower of Empress (Paulownia) trees in North America, with 2,000 acres under management across Canada, Costa Rica, Guatemala, USA and Mexico. For more information: World Tree

Wefunder logoWefunder is the nation’s leading investment crowdfunding platform, with a mission to keep the American dream alive. Founded in 2011, Wefunder has helped hundreds of companies raise almost $170 million. Wefunder companies have gone on to raise over $2 billion in venture capital. Wefunder is a Public Benefit Corporation and B Corp, with a goal to help 20,000 founders get off the ground by 2029. For more information: Wefunder

VFG-Vanderbilt Financial Group logoVanderbilt Securities is part of Vanderbilt Financial Group, an investment firm disrupting traditional finance by focusing on socially and environmentally responsible, ethical, and impactful investments. Vanderbilt is known as “The Sustainable Wealth Management Firm” for their commitment to providing financial advisors and their clients with access to values-aligned investments. Headquartered in a LEED-certified Platinum building, Vanderbilt’s commitment to changing the world begins at home in our office and within our culture. Under the leadership of the impactful husband and wife team, Steve and Heidi Distante, Vanderbilt’s culture has garnered awards such as being named one of the Best Places to Work on Long Island for 2018 and 2019, the Future50 and Corporate Culture Awards from SmartCEO, as well as being recognized as one of the finest run companies by the Management Action Plan (M.A.P.) organization.

As a thought leader in the impact space, Vanderbilt Financial Group is dedicated to increasing the reach and impact of the financial services industry using the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals as a framework. Their education platform, Impact U, provides students, advisors and investors with unique opportunities to increase their impact investing knowledge through videos, podcasts and fun interactive exercises. Vanderbilt Founder & Chairman Steve Distante released the award-winning documentary film “Igniting Impact” that sheds light on how purposeful entrepreneurship and impactful investments can help improve the world’s greatest challenges. Interact with Impact U 

This is neither an offer to sell, nor a solicitation to buy, a security, which can be made only by the prospective investors if it is preceded or accompanied by the Offering Circular, which contains various and important risk disclosures. This material does not purport to be complete and should be read in conjunction with the Offering Circular.

https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1687316/000147793220005164/wtcu_253g2.htm

Vanderbilt Financial Group is the marketing name for Vanderbilt Securities, LLC and its affiliates. Securities offered through Vanderbilt Securities, LLC • Member: FINRA, SIPC • Registered with MSRB Advisory Services offered through Vanderbilt Advisory Services Vanderbilt’s Form CRS among other important information and disclosures: http://www.vanderbiltfg.com/disclosures

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First Affirmative Financial Network is now an Employee-owned B Corp

First Affirmative Financial Network is Now an Employee-Owned Certified B Corp

As Values-Based Investing Skyrockets, Pioneer in SRI and ESG Investing Now Activated for Impact and Growth

 

First Affirmative Financial Network LLC, a pioneer in sustainable, responsible and impact (SRI) investing with approximately $1 billion under management and advisement, announced September 21, 2020 it will return to independence as an employee-owned Certified B Corp and capitalize on burgeoning interest in values-based investing.

First Affirmative and Goldman Sachs announced the spinoff as part of Goldman Sachs’s acquisition of Folio Financial, which acquired First Affirmative in 2016.

A Registered investment Advisor, First Affirmative has led the way in SRI and environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing for more than 30 years. First Affirmative founded the industry standard The SRI Conference in 1990 to bring together industry leaders and expand impact investing. First Affirmative’s re-launch as an independent, employee-owned entity comes at a time when social and cultural activism have raised values-based investing to higher prominence than ever.

The AffirmativESG advisor workstation sets the standard for financial and impact customization and efficiency, and continues First Affirmative’s legacy of innovation.

“We’re thrilled to reinforce more than three decades of values-based investment innovation with employee ownership that will help spread the First Affirmative approach, through unmatched enthusiasm and depth of experience and commitment,” said George Gay, CEO of First Affirmative. “We will grow our network of advisors and bring powerful, impactful financial management tools to more people through the leadership of our empowered teammates.”

First Affirmative creates SRI investment models, shapes portfolios for investment managers, builds analysis tools and partners with financial firms to meet competitive return benchmarks while supporting desired impact results for clients. Since 1988, First Affirmative has been driven by its belief in the power of capital to bring about lasting beneficial change, including stewardship of the environment and promoting social change.

“First Affirmative is one of the most pioneering and well-respected SRI investment managers in the country,” said Gary Mathews, PhD CPA/PFS AIF at SRI Investing LLC. “I am so happy to be able to say First Affirmative is preserving its independence. First Affirmative is a treasure to the SRI community.”

First Affirmative is a leader in shareholder advocacy and investor-driven social activism, and most recently helped lead the effort to influence the NFL’s Washington Football Team to change a name long considered a slur around the world.

 

About First Affirmative:
Since 1988, First Affirmative has been helping financial advisors and their clients create investment solutions designed to meet both financial and impact goals. First Affirmative’s unmatched institutional grounding in this ecosystem allows them to deploy the fundamental research, quantitative techniques, portfolio construction and management methodologies to deliver outcome-oriented SRI and ESG investment solutions. First Affirmative is proud to have adopted the highest standards as an investment fiduciary. First Affirmative is a Certified B Corp and was honored as a “Best for the World” Company in 2019 by B Lab, the parent organization for Certified B Corps.

SOURCE: First Affirmative Financial Network LLC

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GreenMoney announces strategic partnership with Climate and Capital Media

GreenMoney Journal Announces Strategic Partnership with Climate & Capital Media

GreenMoney Journal is pleased announce our Strategic Partnership with Climate & Capital Media, a global media company that connects investors and entrepreneurs working on climate change solutions. Its news service develops engaging, well-reported profiles that deliver practice and meaningful investment and leadership insights about the fast-growing community of businesses addressing global warming and building a more sustainable climate economy.

Beginning in September 2020 the strategic partnership will include joint efforts in editorial content, distribution, and marketing.

“As climate change continues to have an increasing impact on the bottom line of companies all over the world, we look forward to working with Peter and Climate and Capital Media to help keep our readers well informed on issues affecting communities and commerce as well as our SRI and ESG investments,” said Cliff Feigenbaum, founder and publisher of the GreenMoney Journal.

“At Climate & Capital Media, our goal is to make the business and finance of climate action accessible and inviting. We value the great story-telling and vivid images that inspire and motivate everyone working to build a global climate economy. We are excited to partner with Cliff and GreenMoney Journal, ‘the voice of the community,’ as we jointly work to influence capital that supports solutions to climate change,” said Peter McKillop, founder of Climate & Capital Media.

GreenMoney Journal is a leading global sustainable business and impact investing media brand, with a biweekly eJournal that reaches an audience of 27,000 investors and a website focused on innovative solutions and responsible leadership. Now in its 28th year of publication, GreenMoney is an award-winning, trusted and independent journalism brand with a dedicated readership of financial and sustainability professionals.

 

CONTACTS:

Cliff Feigenbaum

Peter McKillop

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US SIF Foundation Releases Report-Investing to Advance UN Sustainable Development Goals

US SIF Foundation Releases Report on Investing to Advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The report examines why sustainable investors in the United States are interested in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the challenges in furthering the SDGs. The report also assesses whether the SDGs have led to a change in investment strategies, new investment products or new investment flows.

The US SIF Foundation recently released “Investing to Achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals: A Report for the US Investor Community.” The report examines why sustainable investors in the United States are interested in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the challenges in furthering the SDGs. The report also assesses whether the SDGs have led to a change in investment strategies, new investment products or new investment flows.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, calls on governments, civil society, business leaders and investors to take action to help realize 17 sustainability and social justice goals. The economic arguments for implementing the SDGs are compelling. Ending poverty, reducing income inequality and advancing the socioeconomic status of women — as the Goals emphasize — would spur economic growth and also provide opportunities for many business enterprises to expand their customer base.

To prepare the paper, the US SIF Foundation drew on information from UN public reports and data surrounding the issuance of and investment in SDG bonds, climate bonds and SDG-themed equity funds. Staff also interviewed representatives of a select group of investment management firms and institutional asset owners with a long-standing commitment to sustainable investment.

The report is divided into the following sections:

  • The history of the Sustainable Development Goals
  • The case for investing in the SDGs
  • Encouraging private sector investment
  • The rise of green, SDG, and sustainable bonds
  • The SDGs in the equity markets
  • The response of US sustainable investors

“Although no official database tracks private sector investments in the SDGs or the collective impact of these investments, numerous investment products have been launched or issued in recent years with sustainable development themes,” said Meg Voorhes, Director of Research at the US SIF Foundation and editor of the report. “We encourage managers or issuers of investment products that purport to support one or more of the SDGs to measure and report the impact of their products and strategies.”

Download the report here.

 

About US SIF and the US SIF Foundation

US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment is the leading voice advancing sustainable and impact investing across all asset classes. Its mission is to rapidly shift investment practices toward sustainability, focusing on long-term investment and the generation of positive social and environmental impacts. US SIF members include investment management and advisory firms, mutual fund companies, asset owners, research firms, financial planners and advisors, broker-dealers, community investing organizations and nonprofit associations.

US SIF is supported in its work by the US SIF Foundation, a 501(C)(3) organization that undertakes educational and research activities to advance the mission of US SIF. The US SIF Foundation will publish its biennial Report on US Sustainable and Impact Investing Trends in November. The Foundation also offers training on the Fundamentals of Sustainable and Impact Investment and in partnership with the College for Financial Planning, offers the only sustainable investment designation in the United States, the Chartered SRI Counselor™ (CSRIC™). This graduate-level program provides financial advisors and investment professionals with the history, definitions, trends, portfolio construction principles, fiduciary responsibilities and best practices of sustainable investment.

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