Latest report reveals how global businesses can—and must—take the lead on environmental and social issues because the future of sustainability is now in the hands of worldwide brands, their consumers, and the NGOs holding them accountable.
Global stakeholder engagement nonprofit Future 500 explores the evolving risks + opportunities of corporate stewardship in its latest report, Top 10 Stakeholder Engagement Trends of 2018. The report identifies 10 key drivers shaping modern business—including fleet electrification, marine plastic pollution, environmental justice, and predictions for the looming clash between regulators and Big Tech. Each trend comes with suggested actions for corporations to respond to threats and position themselves as industry leaders.
“At the core of our mission is to cultivate the future leaders of sustainable business,” said Future 500 CEO Bill Shireman. “2018 is particularly interesting for us. It’s a make-or-break year for corporate stewardship. Brands can be assured that their stakeholders will hold them to account on any and all commitments to leadership.”
This is the seventh report in Future 500’s annual Stakeholder Engagement Trends series. Each year, the nonprofit compiles a broad set of industry data along with firsthand feedback from its network of CEOs, activist leaders, investment experts and major funders. With a unique birdseye industry view, the team ties together environmental, economic, and social trends to make keen predictions for the coming year and beyond.
In 2017, Future 500 saw growing global unity around ocean pollution, just transition and freshwater conservation, while greater engagement on the local and state level empowered social justice groups and vocal brand advocacy. Many of these predictions proved accurate as leaders emerged to fill the political stewardship vacuum—held accountable by increasingly sophisticated stakeholder campaigns.
This year’s report continues along this trajectory to its real-world outcomes, exploring advancements in renewable energy, data technology and campaign tactics in an evolving stakeholder landscape.
Shireman expressed optimism for a global community moving forward on COP21 and Sustainable Development Goals. “If we can take something away from our political gridlock, it’s that there is much more to unite us than divide on sustainability issues.”
“The challenge, and the key measure for success in the coming year, is how we convert this knowledge into lasting, real-world impact.”
The report’s top insights include:
• Corporations modernize with all-electric fleets _implications for sustainable business, as well as the impact on utilities + traditional fuel producers
• NGOs and advocacy groups are forming an unlikely alliance with major investors like Blackrock, becoming the new corporate regulators
• Global standards from COP21 and the UN s Sustainable Development Goals are internalized on state, local and corporate levels now, — these groups must measure real world operations against these goals.
About Future 500 Future 500 is a global nonprofit facilitating cross-sector stakeholder engagement—a collaborative process for corporations, investors and advocates to achieve systemic environmental solutions. Since 1995, Future 500 is dedicated to uniting diverse stakeholders around building a sustainable future. We believe true change is the result of removing institutional barriers, fostering innovative ideas, and establishing common ground between uncommon allies.
Bigger, faster, more. Whether due to policy, technological or climatic changes, companies face an onslaught of challenges that are happening sooner and more dramatically than many could have anticipated. Investors in turn are looking for ways to position their portfolios to best navigate the uncertainty. In 2018, these are the major ESG trends that we think will shape how investors approach the risks and opportunities on the horizon. In 2018, investors will…
SIFTING FOR MANAGEMENT QUALITY IN EMERGING MARKETS
…use ESG signals to help navigate the evolving size and shape of the Emerging Markets investment universe. More than 15% of Emerging Markets domiciled constituents of the MSCI ACWI Index have ESG Ratings that eclipse their country’s ESG Sovereign Ratings, making them country outperformers worth watching.
FIRST STEPS IN SCENARIO TESTING CLIMATE CHANGE
…expand their view of portfolio climate risk from company carbon footprint to macro exposures across asset classes. We found that at least 40% of each major asset class is exposed to countries at high risk to irreparable physical damage under a high warming scenario.
ACCELERATION OF ESG INTO FIXED INCOME INVESTING
…be catalyzed to adopt ESG factors in fixed income investments, as demand from leading asset owners to align their ESG frameworks across asset classes coincides with interest in how ESG factors can add value to credit analysis. Recent research on ESG and equity performance suggests that a company’s ESG Rating could signal a form of ‘unmatured’ event risk.
LOOKING BEYOND SUSTAINABILITY DISCLOSURE
…look to alternative data sources to balance the growing volume of corporate sustainability disclosure. In our own ESG Ratings, 65% of a company’s rating on average is driven by data sources beyond voluntary disclosure.
THE YEAR OF THE HUMAN
…increasingly seek opportunities to invest in talent quality, as Artificial Intelligence (AI) redefines work tasks to require higher skilled human input. While good workforce data is hard to come by, we find evidence that companies with stronger human capital practices had better productivity growth than industry peers.
You can also listen to Linda-Eling Lee and Matt Moscardi of MSCI discuss how the five ESG trends may play out over the coming year and beyond, and discuss the potential risks and opportunities for institutional investors here – https://www.msci.com/2018-esg-trends-to-watch
New research finds businesses are making money from planting trees and growing sales as rapidly as 10 times per year
Many investors don t know what restoration is or realize the extent of its potential. A new report by World Resources Institute (WRI – www.wri.org) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC – www.nature.org) reveals that businesses around the world are making money by planting trees, unleashing a growth opportunity for venture capital, private equity and impact investors. The research indicates the restoration economy is at a tipping point.
The new report released in January 2018, The Business of Planting Trees: A Growing Investment Opportunity, shows that restoring degraded and deforested lands is not only a boon for the environment, but a lucrative opportunity for investors and entrepreneurs. WRI and TNC looked at hundreds of companies — tech startups, consumer goods companies, timber producers, etc. — and selected 14 enterprises to highlight from around the world. The publication finds that the sector is growing rapidly, with some businesses poised to grow revenues up to 10 times per year.
“The long-term growth outlook is positive as technology lowers the costs of tree-planting, consumers reward companies who restore forests, governments make large commitments to rehabilitate their land, and business model innovation continues,” said Sofia Faruqi, Manager at WRI and report co-author. “The confluence of these factors signals that now’s the time to invest in restoration.”
The report identifies four emerging themes in the restoration economy: technology, consumer products, project management and commercial forestry. To help investor and entrepreneurs gain insight from real-world examples of companies, the report profiles the following 14 businesses: BioCarbon Engineering, Brinkman, EcoPlanet Bamboo, Ecosia, F3 Life, Fresh Coast Capital, Guayaki, Komaza, Land Life Company, Lyme Timber, New Forests, Symbiosis Investimentos, Tentree, and Terviva. (See the 14 company websites below)
A range of investors have financed the businesses featured in the report, from venture capitalists to development banks to foundations. Investments include debt, equity and grants. Several companies have recently raised millions of dollars in growth capital.
“If we are to be serious about climate change, we have to get serious about investing in nature,” said Justin Adams, Managing Director Global Lands for The Nature Conservancy. “The way we manage lands in the future could cost effectively deliver over a third of greenhouse gas emissions reductions required to prevent dangerous levels of global warming.”
Recent technologies have paved the way for faster, cheaper, more efficient tree planting, allowing rapid reforestation of broad areas of land. From seed-planting drones to companies enabling credit access for small farmers, technology is changing the face of restoration. Many of these innovations were unavailable even five years ago. As technology brings down the costs of restoration, demand will rise, similar to solar energy.
Consumer goods companies are also integrating restoration in innovative ways, from selling yerba mate grown in restored forests, to using their profits to plant trees. As trendy consumers become more engaged in conservation, many companies see a big opportunity to market forest-friendly products that differentiate them in the marketplace.
Bruno Mariani, founder of Symbiosis Investimentos – a company profiled in the report – said “Large-scale reforestation is lucrative. Forests give us wood, water, oxygen, food, fauna, jobs and a return on investment. Mainstream finance will inevitably tag along but when you rebuild a forest, you create much more than financial value. You protect a healthy environment for future generations to inherit.”
There is also a large market for companies to support the millions of hectares of public land being restored by countries. The political momentum for restoration continues as countries seek to meet their commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement, Bonn Challenge, Initiative 20×20, AFR100 and more. With 160 million hectares of land committed for restoration, these pledges present a growth pathway for the companies that design, manage and implement the projects.
April Mendez, co-founder of Fresh Coast Capital — a company profiled in the report — said, “We re offering investors the opportunity to earn a return from urban green spaces. Private investment can accelerate cutting-edge green infrastructure that improves air quality, health and community cohesion, while providing cost-effective stormwater management for cities.”
Although the timber industry has been around for decades, sustainably managed timber that improves land quality has been a bright spot for innovation. From institutional timber funds that set aside large amounts of land for conservation to business models that incorporate smallholder farmers or focus on extinct species, recent developments indicate that sustainable timber has a rising role to play in the growth story of restoration.
In 2014, I predicted “Desert Greening the Next Big Thing”, would be led by green investors. I’m still waiting for this shift from humanity’s single minded focus on traditional agricultural crops (glycophytes) relying on the planet’s three percent of fresh water. Why so little shift to more sustainable, nutrient-richer, salt loving (halophyte) plant foods, such as quinoa? Because vested interests in the vast incumbent global agro-chemical industrial complex are as powerful and persistent as those in the worldwide fossilized sectors. Corporations like Cargill and ConAgra dominate, along with agro-chemical giants Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, and DowDupont, selling fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and genetically-modified seeds, as well as those selling farm machinery, Deere, Caterpillar, Yamaha and their thousands of dealers around the world.
Courtesy of Scientific American
Industrial agriculture’s global scale requires monoculture of a small group of food crops as tradable commodities: corn, wheat, rice, soybeans, along with cotton and others for fiber, fuel and animal feed. These narrow monocultures risk susceptibility to blight and they deplete soils while producing high-calorie, low-nutrient diets — exacerbating Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity, as described by endocrinologist Robert H. Lustig in “The Hacking of The American Mind” (2017). This global agro-chemical industrial complex is reinforced by the vast marketing, branding and advertising sector which influences content of media and consumer choices. Later this article describes today’s rising food activism: the organic, vegetarian, vegan choices, alternative vertical urban crops, fresh local growers and farmers’ markets.
Yet, disrupting the agro-industrial complex is proving as difficult as dislodging the global fossil industrial sectors. Even as CO2 emissions from the incumbent agro-industrial complex now exceed those from fossil-fueled transportation, efforts in the successive United Nations (UN) COP climate summits of the past decades have failed to halt or reverse these trends.
Furthermore, The Economist reports that over 100 of the UNPCC’s climate models assume that as much as 800 billion tons of CO2 must be extracted directly from the air, and sequestered or re-used to keep global warming below 2° Celsius.
So far, this direct carbon capturing and sequestering (CCS) is hardly happening anywhere since “clean coal” capturing of CO2 at power plants was found too expensive and reduces their efficiency by as much as 40 percent. The best hope for direct capturing of CO2 rests on reforming agricultural and forestry methods — Nature’s way of sequestering CO2 in growing global biomass. Start-up firms, including Terraformers, empower home growers, while Global Thermostat is geared to capture CO2 from the air and sell it for manufacturing, cement making and greenhouses to accelerate plant growth. Risky geoengineering proposals to block sunlight by seeding the Earth’s stratosphere with various particles could have possibly disastrous effects, including on agriculture.
Meanwhile the green revolt against industrial foods is growing, since 2009 causing some $18 billion loss of market share by the top 25 US food and beverage companies. Silicon Valley’s animal-free food start-ups, including Beyond Meat, Memphis Meat, Impossible Foods, Finless Foods, MosaMeat, Clara Foods and Perfect Day are testing or producing substitutes for beef, chicken, fish and milk, based on plants, bio-chemical engineering, fermentation, insects and growing meat cells in petri dishes. All this may disrupt the $200 billion annual sales of meat in the USA. The meat-producing livestock industry overuses antibiotics and is a major global polluter and CO2 emitter, while hogging millions of gallons of water and acres of land. Cows require 26 pounds of feed for every pound of edible beef.
Meanwhile billions are invested in the planet’s three percent of fresh water, dwindling due to melting glaciers and rising use by growing populations: in sewage and polluted water treatment facilities, desalination, cleaning up and recycling water, irrigation, pipes, and sanitation, such as in India and conducted by the Toilet Board Coalition. Shifting to renewable energy saves millions of gallons of water used to cool fossil-fired and nuclear power plants. China hopes to secure its increasingly meat protein rich food supplies by its recent acquisition of Syngenta by ChinaChem for $43 billion, so as to raise yields through research and genetic engineering—in spite of Chinese consumers’ fear of Western GMO seeds and foods.
In addition, crop breeders are racing to find wild relatives of familiar food crops, including efforts by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), since all our foods: corn, wheat, soy, rice, pumpkins, tomatoes and apples were once wild. Desertification-reversal efforts include Allan Savory’s Holistic Management restoring land by rotating herds of cattle on some 40 million acres in many countries. Plans for planting trees are envisioned in a Great Green Wall across the African continent to hold back the advancing Sahara Desert. Robots like LettuceBot use AI and machine learning to train huge machines to weed crops on large farms, produced by Blue River, being acquired by Deere & Co for $305 million. Big data-collecting firms are offering farmers data on prices of seeds, chemicals and crop yields on Amazon’s cloud-computing platform, while many farmers are suspicious on how this data will be monetized. Biotech companies promise factory-scale use of microbes for growing food, including from algae, and even natural gas turned by methane-consuming microbes into high-protein animal feed. In Biomimicry Solutions Carbon Report, Janine Benyus outlines nine initiatives including Air Carbon plastic from captured methane, perennial Kemza wheat and Zelfo Technology. Circular economy global recycler ECOR upcycles waste into a range of sustainable materials.
Yet in spite of this enormous global investment and R&D to increase human food production, restore its nutritional content while saving fresh water and restoring the planet’s 3.9 billion acres of arable land, investors are still blind to the shift I described in 2014 to halophyte foods and agriculture, as well as fuels for saltwater-grown algae, as well as many fiber and feed crops. Like their obsolete view of fossilized sectors, mainstream finance cannot see the risks of stranded assets and mal-investments in this bloated unsustainable global agro-chemical industrial complex.
Asset allocators steering pension funds, endowments and sovereign wealth funds, as well as consultants, advisors and brokers still warn investors that these new green investment are “too risky,” overlooking the risks already lurking in their clients’ portfolios and 401Ks. As I described in 2014, we humans are still overlooking those four globally-abundant resources for augmenting our food sources more sustainably: the 10,000 varieties of halophyte plants, many already hybridized into replacements for corn, wheat, soy, rice and other vegetable crops; the 97 percent of water on this planet that is saline; the 40 percent of scrub and desert lands and all those daily free photons we can harvest from our Sun. (see “Investing In Desert Greening” TV show.)
Behavioral scientist Daniel Kahneman in Thinking Fast and Slow (2013), calls this cognitive problem, “theory-induced blindness.” Combined with other cognitive biases, they have contributed to the mis-allocation of our agricultural investments, along with media and vested incumbent industries steering research favorable to retaining control of this crucial global industry.
Yet, today, the new climate crises evident in 2017’s many powerful hurricanes, floods, fires and droughts, are making a transition of our food supply from total reliance on glycophytes to incorporating halophytes ever more urgent. This shift also seems essential if we are to capture enough of the CO2 emissions already in our atmosphere, since we can no longer rely on today’s robust transition to green renewable energy we track in our Green Transition Scoreboard®. Continued misuse of the earth’s land and depletion of soils may turn them from carbon sinks into CO2 sources. While startups in direct capture and use of CO2 are welcome in the CO2 Utilization Conference, Tampa, FL in 2018, Nature’s capture of CO2 in growing plants can be increased by expanding use of halophyte foods, already growing and available in many countries.
Furthermore, while legacy food crops lack necessary nutritional value due to depleted, over-used soils, halophyte food crops contain exactly the mineral nutrition vital to human health! Why are we still waiting for this healthier greener food transition?
Article by Hazel Henderson D.Sc.Hon., FRSA, is founder of Ethical Markets Media, (USA and Brazil), a Certified B Corporation. She is a world-renowned futurist, evolutionary economist, a worldwide syndicated columnist, and author of award-winning Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy (2006) and eight other books. She created the Ethical Markets TV series in global distribution at www.films.com , the EthicMark® Awards, the Green Transition Scoreboard® and co-created Ethical Biomimicry Finance®.
Her editorials are syndicated globally by InterPress Service, Other News, 3BL and her book reviews appear on SeekingAlpha.com. Her articles have appeared in over 250 journals, including Harvard Business Review, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, as well as journals in Japan, Venezuela, China, France and Australia.
Since becoming a full-time media executive in 2004, Hazel has stepped down from many of her associations, including Calvert Social Investment Fund (1982-2005), the Social Investment Forum and the Social Venture Network. She has been Regent’s Lecturer at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Horace Albright Chair in Conservation at the University of California-Berkeley, and advised the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Science Foundation from 1974 to 1980.
She remains on the International Council of the Instituto Ethos de Empresas e Responsabilidade Social, Sao Paulo, Brasil; is a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science and the World Business Academy; and is an Honorary Member of the Club of Rome. She shared the 1996 Global Citizen Award with Nobelist A. Perez Esquivel of Argentina. In 2007, she was elected a Fellow to Britain’s Royal Society of Arts, founded in 1754.
In 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014, she was honored as a “Top 100 Thought Leader in Trustworthy Business Behavior” by Trust Across America. In 2012, she was honored with the Reuters Award for Outstanding Contribution to Development of ESG & Investing at TBLI Europe. In 2013, she was inducted into the International Society of Sustainability Professionals Hall of Fame.
Her 2014 monograph, Mapping the Global Transition to the Solar Age, published by ICAEW and Tomorrow’s Company, UK, is available for free download from www.ethicalmarkets.com
Over the past decade, the term sustainability has caught on in the boardroom, courtroom and living room. While the concept has reached the mainstream, opportunities abound for implementation.
Ten trends to watch for and prepare in 2018:
1) Role of technology – Between smart grids, smart supply chains and smart transport, i.e., electric trucks, trains and cars, reliance on AI will increase. This can be good or bad, depending on whether programmers KNOW to code for sustainability. Unfortunately, research shows Silicon Valley is behind the curve. Other tech centers will step up.
2) Cities planning for climate change – Now that the insurance sector acknowledges the risks of climate change, increasingly local governments will prepare themselves. Coastal cities planning for sea-level rise or any town planning for the disaster du jour – hurricanes, sinkholes, tornadoes, blizzards, fires – must put sustainability plans in place or face uninsurable liability.
3) Cultural divide – Besides the haves and have nots, expect a divide between those who do and those who don’t: do recycle, don’t eat meat; don’t stave off vampire electrics, do use plastic bags; don’t drive big cars, do carpool. Reduce/reuse from the Thrift Store or shop new at the Box Store? Fortunately, retailers will offer more sustainable products to attract both.
4) Corporate breakdown of silos – Corporations will increasingly value integrating sustainability across departments, product lines, R&D, manufacturing, infrastructure, everything! Up and down the supply chain, as imperative for international trade or a method of risk abatement – assimilating sustainability will become essential to ameliorate corporate woes and increase profitability.
5) Fake news driving real news – With so little trust in media, companies, NGOs and governments will increasingly depend on externally assured self-reporting of their sustainability successes and challenges. As stakeholders become disillusioned and distrustful, sustainability reporting must prove itself – real metrics, no green or blue washing, with quantifiable goals. And, all of it must be verified by an outside source.
6) Cross-Company collaboration – Many of today’s pressing issues are simply too complex to solve alone. An even bigger traction of companies – and competitors – will partner to advance whole-scale change, like for example Danone and Nestle did to form the NaturALL Bottle Alliance.
7) Sector-wide collaboration with consumers – Acknowledging the power of strength in numbers, companies in specific industries will continue to band together to accelerate progress on shared issues. For example, the Food and Beverage industry has aggressively tackled transparency, with major players like Hershey and Panera arming consumers with additional information, not only nutrition but also production (organic, non-GMO), shipping and handling (human rights), and sustainability efforts.
8) Generation Z influence – Generation Z will hold companies to high standards. Much like their Millennial counterparts, Generation Z is focused on the impact companies have on the world. In a study by i4cp, 93% of Gen Zs said that a company’s impact on society affects their decision to work at or purchase from the company.
9) Companies aligning initiatives around United Nations SDGs – The Sustainable Development Goals call for action by all UN member states to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. By aligning around the 17 Goals, and their smaller targets, corporations will take on major sustainability initiatives specific to company values. The SDGs are also going to change and enhance the future of Sustainability Reports.
10) More Sustainability related jobs – Sustainability related jobs will be created, not only in large companies but also including benefit corporations and green startups. To get advanced knowledge in this field and earn qualifications, go to www.sustainability-academy.org
Based on a collective 100-plus years of experience among our leadership and advisors, extrapolating from our annual research, we at CSE know the challenges are surmountable. With awareness, education and determination – ever forward!
The Centre for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE) (www.cse-net.org) specializes in global sustainability consulting, training and research. CSE has trained over 5,000 professionals, many from the Fortune 500. CSE’s Sustainability Academy offers affordable, online education in corporate responsibility. Accredited by CMI (Chartered Management Institute), CSE is a GRI-certified training provider.
Upcoming in-person Certified Sustainability (CSR) Practitioner Programs (2018 Advanced Edition) include London, March 1-2; Atlanta, March 8-9; Toronto, April 26-27; New York, June 7-8, and other dates globally.
What never grows old? The burning desire of youth to reinvent the world. That ambition and impatience is on full display in Forbes 2018 edition of the Forbes 30 Under 30, our annual encyclopedia of creative disruption featuring 600 young stars in 20 different industries. Selecting these youthful visionaries is a year-round obsession: We vet thousands of nominations, leaning on the collective wisdom of our online community, ace reporters and a panel of A-list judges.
Now in our seventh year, with a 4,000-strong alumni network that spans the globe, this list continues to spotlight the impressive, the inspiring and the (genuinely) enviable.
CONSUMER TECHNOLOGY – Seizing the moment of a personalized digital revolution
EDUCATION – Bringing access and opportunity to the classroom and beyond
BIG MONEY – Building startups with $15 million+ funding
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS – Leveraging business smarts to save the world
VENTURE CAPITAL – Investing in the next great tech companies
ENERGY – Fueling a more sustainable future
MANUFACTURING & INDUSTRY – Creating the products, methods and materials of tomorrow
HEALTHCARE – Getting personal to fix the system
ART & STYLE – Creating and designing the future of fashion and the arts
SCIENCE – Inventing the future from the atom up
Find the full list of categories and all the winners here:
Domini is proud to announce that we have recently signed the Stockholm Declaration, re-affirming our support for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). The Stockholm Declaration was organized by the GRI and UN Global Compact in May 2017. The pact allows the global investment community to announce their commitment to using the UN SDGs as a framework for investing. The declaration also serves as a call for a reporting framework that will allow investors to record progress towards the common goals. The full declaration can be read here – www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/Stockholm-Declaration.pdf
The UN SDGS are a collection of 17 targets that form a framework for creating and maintaining sustainable development by 2030. They were approved by the UN General Assembly in 2015, and set an ambitious agenda to reduce inequality and fight poverty, protect resources and health, and combat climate change. Explore the SDGs here: www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment
Domini’s core goals of universal human dignity and ecological sustainability are fully aligned with the UN SDGs, and our impact investing standards map to the goals. Reaching the SDG targets will create strong and resilient environmental and social, as well as financial, systems. However, according to the UNCTAD, achieving them will require an estimated investment of $5-7 trillion globally. This level of investment is possible, as each of the 17 goals present myriad business and investment opportunities, but it remains important for investors to work together to disclose and promote investment to meet the goals.
About Domini Impact Investments
Domini Impact Investments LLC (www.domini.com) is a women-led SEC-registered investment adviser that specializes exclusively in responsible investing with $1.9 billion in assets under management as of April 30, 2017. Domini’s responsibilities in managing the Domini Funds includes the development and application of each Fund’s social and environmental standards. In addition, we engage with companies to encourage improvements in their social and environmental performance.
Domini mutual funds all share three goals in the investment process: universal human dignity, environmental sustainability and financial return.
We serve individual and institutional investors who wish to create positive social and environmental outcomes while seeking competitive financial returns. Domini manages three mutual funds: the Domini Impact Equity Fund (large-cap domestic equity), the Domini Impact International Equity Fund (large to mid-cap international equity), and the Domini Impact Bond Fund (U.S. intermediate term fixed income).
The Domini Funds are not insured and are subject to market risks, such as sector concentration and style risk. Investing internationally involves special risks, such as currency fluctuations, social and economic instability, differing securities regulations and accounting standards, limited public information, possible changes in taxation, and periods of illiquidity. Investment return and principal value will fluctuate so that an investor’s shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. You may lose money.
The Domini Impact Bond Fund is not insured and is subject to market risks, including interest rate and credit risks. During periods of rising interest rates, bond funds can lose value. The Domini Impact Bond Fund currently holds a large percentage of its portfolio in mortgage-backed securities. During periods of falling interest rates, mortgage-backed securities may prepay the principal due, which may lower the Fund’s return by causing it to reinvest at lower interest rates. Some of the Domini Impact Bond Fund’s community development investments may be unrated and carry greater credit risks than its other investments.
This information is provided for educational purposes only, and should not be considered investment advice. The composition of the Funds’ portfolios is subject to change. View the most current list here –
The social and environmental standards applied to the Domini Funds are subject to change without notice.
Before investing, consider the Domini Funds’ investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses. View or order a prospectus or call 1-800-762-6814 for a prospectus containing this information. Read it carefully.
Last year, as Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) conducted a strategic review as part of its leadership transition, we found ourselves asking the same questions that were being asked across the country, on both sides of the political aisle. At the heart of those questions was the recognition that our economy is not working for everyone. And a major takeaway was that rural regions, gateway cities, and the people who live there were being left behind.
Maine-based CEI is taking strides to change that. CEI invests in small companies, coaches people as they are starting and growing businesses, helps connect low-income jobseekers with training and good jobs, works to accelerate natural resources-based industries, and advocates for pragmatic policy solutions in our home state of Maine as well as in rural regions throughout the U.S. And over the years, as we have developed our track record of expanding shared prosperity in these regions, we have helped to create new ways to channel public and private investments into communities that are starved of capital.
The story of St. Croix Tissue, Inc. in the rural Maine town of Baileyville (population ~1,450), illustrates the unique role that CEI plays in community investing. CEI’s subsidiary, CEI Capital Management, invested in St. Croix Tissue using a New Markets Tax Credit which provided an opportunity for partial vertical integration of the host pulp mill operations of a related company, Woodland Pulp LLC. This investment contributed significantly to the stability and future viability of Woodland Pulp’s 300 employees, while also creating 80 new jobs at St. Croix Tissue. CEI stayed close to the company in this growth phase, offering deep knowledge of workforce development, public sector resources, and qualified organizations able to provide job training — essential support for a distressed community. This investment with wrap-around services has helped jumpstart the economy and provide some hope in Maine’s poorest county.
Now in its 40th year, with $96 million in total assets, CEI is in a strong position to advance its mission further and deepen its impact. CEI grew from an early community-development innovator founded on the rocky coast of Maine to a nationally-known best practices leader and policy advocate for inclusive regional economic growth, and a trusted channel for impact investing. Its wholly-owned for-profit subsidiaries expand its suite of financing products targeting underserved communities and contribute to its financial self-sustainability. Two years ago, CEI and its subsidiaries, including a seasoned management team and next generation of forward-looking leaders, moved into a LEED Platinum-certified building that generates half of its power from solar energy and 100% of its heating and cooling with geothermal energy.
From its beginnings as a small non-profit serving mid-coast Maine, the CEI family of organizations has invested in 2,724 businesses and projects, helping to support over 39,000 jobs in Maine and across the country. CEI is entering a new phase of its work, based on a new strategic plan that will guide us for the next three years. We are growing good jobs, environmentally sustainable enterprises and shared prosperity.
By all measures, Maine’s lobstering industry is an economic powerhouse, providing thousands of jobs and adding more than $1 billion annually to the state’s economy. This bright picture, however, belies two startling statistics: a very small percentage of Maine’s 3,500-mile coastline provides commercial access to fishermen and nearly half the licensed lobstermen are over the age of 50. Transitioning this industry to the younger generation, while preserving working waterfront access, is crucial to the future of Maine’s economy.
Purchased in 1978, Millers’ Wharf in Tenants Harbor serves as home base for a lobstering business operated by the four Miller brothers and their extended families. Over twelve years, CEI worked closely with the Millers, providing a loan in partnership with Key Bank to expand the wharf and dredge so that bait and catch can be off-loaded regardless of the tide. With CEI financing, the Millers added four hoists, increasing efficiency and the number of boats they could serve. CEI also helped secure the property through the Working Waterfront Access Protection Program, ensuring access not only for future generations of Millers, but other fishermen as well. With the impacts of climate change already visible to Mainers, CEI is now helping to diversify income streams by teaching the fisherman to grow and harvest shellfish and kelp.
In the late 1970s, CEI’s early supporters were motivated by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s call for social justice and the War on Poverty at a time when options for young Mainers to earn a decent livelihood were shrinking. Maine was losing good jobs in forestry and farming, access to working waterfront infrastructure and species for fishing were declining, and larger companies were closing and leaving the state.
CEI began work in other rural regions as well as in its “gateway” cities of Portland, Lewiston and Auburn. These small cities that were magnets for immigrants a century ago were undergoing economic transitions and again attracting immigrants and refugees from countries in East Africa and the Middle East, who drew on their entrepreneurial drive and skills to build a new life in the U.S. In response, CEI launched StartSmart, a program to coach and finance immigrants and refugees seeking to launch small businesses to support their families.
ARWO opened in April 2015 on Forest Avenue, a hub for immigrants and refugee businesses in Portland, Maine. In two years, the center has grown to an enrollment of 70 children and 18 employees. ARWO means “prosperous” in Somali—the center’s wish for every child in its care. Founder Naima Abdirhmon immigrated to the U.S. from Somalia, and worked closely with CEI’s StartSmart and the Portland Jobs Alliance to identify, train, and hire numerous staff members, including five new Americans. Prior to launching ARWO, Naime attended Portland public schools and then earned a Doctorate of Pharmacy Degree from University of New England. She is passionate about educating young people and helping them succeed.
As CEI grew its geographic footprint, it also identified an array of investment tools needed by businesses in rural markets. CEI’s for-profit subsidiary, CEI Ventures, Inc.’s four funds have raised over $45 million, investing in growth-oriented companies that have created over 2,000 net new jobs, approximately two-thirds of which are located in distressed or rural areas. At the federal level, CEI advocated for rural regions to get their fair share of New Markets Tax Credits to finance larger transactions. Since 2004, CEI Capital Management LLC has placed over $944 million into 91 projects in communities from Maine to Hawaii. In addition to creating and sustaining jobs, these projects have generated renewable energy and alternative fuels, conserved over 833,000 acres of forestland under easement, and developed over 550 units of affordable housing.
CEI works statewide in Maine using its full suite of financing tools, business advisory services and policy advocacy, while expanding its reach nationally via its for-profit subsidiaries. These subsidiaries provide resources in support of the parent nonprofit and extend its rural expertise and mission impact to small cities and towns across the U.S. This model has strengthened CEI’s financial health and self-sufficiency.
A New Path Forward
CEI’s new strategic plan calls on the organization to harness its investing capacity, deep expertise and broad networks, and program and policy know-how to revitalize rural regions and gateway cities. We invest to create impact for people with low incomes, expand the numbers of good jobs, and ultimately, increase shared prosperity. We take risks on early stage innovators that conventional lenders won’t—calculating good jobs and environmental benefit as core to its return on investment.
We see opportunity in Maine’s burgeoning local food movement, and creating access to new markets for food producers. We work in partnership with others, locally and nationally, to make sure that capital is available for entrepreneurs throughout the food system, from farm to consumer. We are exploring the opportunity to grow the aquaculture industry and renewable energy industry in and beyond Maine, and building support for forest reliant communities in the Northeast to advance community and economic development, conservation and forestry. In 2017, the CEI family of organizations deployed $51.7 million to 79 businesses in mostly rural regions. We are committed to our role providing impact investment channels, coaching, and industry expertise to ensure that everyone has a foothold in our economy.
When founder and CEO Ron Phillips decided in 2016 to retire after 38 years, CEI undertook a national search to identify new leadership. CEI’s Board selected Betsy Biemann to serve as CEO and Keith Bisson as President.
Betsy Biemann came to CEI with experience in philanthropy, entrepreneurship, innovation-based economic development, workforce development and executive leadership, having worked at the Rockefeller Foundation for nine years, ending as Associate Director, and served for over seven years as the president of the Maine Technology Institute. She has strong research and analysis credentials, including having led a year-long study of Maine’s food and agriculture industries at Harvard University’s graduate schools of business and government. Within Maine, she has served on the Maine Innovation Economy Advisory Board, the Maine Philanthropy Center Board, and currently is Treasurer and a member of the Board of the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation. She serves on the Better Quality Employment Advisory Committee of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and was selected by the Aspen Institute to be in their inaugural cohort of Job Quality Fellows. She earned her BA at Harvard College and her MPA in development economics from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.
Keith Bisson brought a dozen years of progressively-senior management responsibilities at CEI as well as experience at the Federal level advocating for policies that strengthened the community development financial sector. He has a background in program and resource development and brings a passion for aligning social justice, environmental stewardship and economic opportunity through his personal and professional work. A graduate of McGill University and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Keith is active in the community and currently serves on the Board of Directors of: Opportunity Finance Network, the CDFI Coalition, and Family Focus Early Learning Center. He also serves on the advisory board of Four Directions Development Corporation, a CDFI serving Maine’s four Native American tribes.
Article by Article by Betsy Biemann, CEO and Keith Bisson, President, Coastal Enterprises, Inc.(www.ceimaine.org)
 At their peak, CVI portfolio companies employed 5,600
After decades of working at the intersection of community development, philanthropy and community economic development, we see a significant shift in how philanthropic assets are being used to build vibrant, prosperous communities. More and more place-focused foundations are seeking to complement their grant-making with local investments to create greater impact in their own communities. There’s a growing recognition that traditional grant-making is not enough to address complex, tough community issues like early childhood education, affordable and energy efficient housing, good jobs and career opportunities for all. But many place-focused foundations struggle with the “how to” engage in local investing for impact. Recognizing this gap, LOCUS Impact Investing, a new social enterprise owned by a nonprofit community development financial institution (CDFI) was launched in 2017 to be a resource and solution for foundations seeking to engage in local, mission-aligned investing.
With their commitment to community prosperity front and center, place-focused foundation leaders are looking at all the tools at their disposal. One tool available is impact investing – “investing in companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate measurable social and environmental impact alongside financial return” (Global Impact Investing Network). Impact investing is a broad, complex and evolving field and impact investing in place has its own unique opportunities and challenges. Foundations, including those focused on underserved rural and urban communities, are looking to local impact investing to build prosperity in their communities. Across the country and in communities of all sizes, local impact investing is helping to create affordable housing, access to fresh food, entrepreneur financing and availability of quality childcare. However, local mission-aligned investing presents its own challenges for foundations. How can a foundation identify and assess investment opportunities, conduct due diligence on these deals to mitigate risk, close these transactions, and then effectively service and monitor these investments for both financial and social impacts? LOCUS was created to provide the services that allow more place-focused foundations to unlock their philanthropic capital and invest locally – in companies and organizations that generate measurable social, environmental and financial returns in their communities.
LOCUS builds on VCC’s 11 years of experience in successfully deploying over $400 million for vital community projects while leveraging total community impact of over $1 billion. LOCUS combines that expertise with CRE’s work with community and other place-focused foundations to embrace their important role in economic development. LOCUS’ mission-aligned “banking” experience and financial infrastructure create a much needed “on-ramp” for foundations that want to engage in local investing for impact.
So, why create LOCUS now? We are living in times when more traditional public sources of community and economic development funding are challenged; many local governments are still struggling with revenue shortfalls and federal budget impasse seems like a perpetual state of affairs. In Don Macke’s words, “finding the financial resources necessary for community building is increasingly challenged; that is why I have come to believe that philanthropic impact investing represents such a promising solution”.
We know that local investing for impact is a promising solution to addressing critical community issues. We are encouraged by the experience of foundations that have chosen to invest in their communities and achieve greater impact than they could through grantmaking alone. Their stories are as varied as their geographies and sizes. The Santa Fe Community Foundation ($75 million in assets) has committed $1.5 million of its current endowment to local mission-aligned investing. The first loan for $250,000 was to a local nonprofit making home-improvement and energy efficiency loans in the community. The Community Foundation of Louisville ($335 million in assets) created an Impact Capital Fund and invited donors to “recycle” their charitable capital through this fund. Their first loan was $100,000 to a local nonprofit so that they could extend a program that provides micro-lending and coaching to low-income entrepreneurs. The Barry Community Foundation in Michigan ($35 million in assets) established a mission-aligned revolving loan fund, with support from six donors, and made a $1,000,000 loan to bring a much needed hotel into their rural community for tourism. With these experiences as inspiration, LOCUS is here to support other foundations interested in investing locally for impact.
Again, why LOCUS now? We believe that we are on the cusp of a change in community investing and community philanthropy. We are witnessing foundations that care about place – like those described here – taking an active, investment-focused role in community and economic development. Through our partnership with the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, we see economic development philanthropy as A New Domain for Place-Rooted Foundations. More foundations are exploring this new domain and are looking for tools, resources and guides to help them move into unfamiliar terrain – to understand the risks, find the right opportunities and measure the social, environmental and financial impacts that local investing can return. When we first launched LOCUS, Teri, Deb and Don all shared blog posts that described why we do this work and our hopes for the future of LOCUS. For Deb Markley, “when community leaders give their time, talent and treasure to work toward a brighter tomorrow, they deserve partners who respect and match their commitment”. We have created LOCUS to be that trusted partner to foundations as they seek to engage in local investments that build vibrant, prosperous places.
Article by Deb Markley with contributors Teri Lovelace and Don Macke, all of LOCUS Impact Investments
Deborah Markley, Senior Vice President
Deb has over 30 years of experience working in community economic development as both a faculty member and practitioner. She is Senior Vice President of LOCUS Impact Investing, VCC’s new social enterprise. She co-founded the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship in 2001 and participates as a member of the Center’s Entrepreneurial Communities’ and Community Development Philanthropy teams. Together, with the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, she is working to advance the practice of economic development philanthropy among place-focused foundations. Deb has BS and MS degrees in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University and a PhD in Agricultural Economics from Virginia Tech.
Teri Lovelace, President
Teri has over 27 years in the philanthropic, mission investing and the nonprofit sector. She is Chief Impact Officer for Virginia Community Capital (VCC), a $240 million CDFI, and President of VCC’s new social enterprise – LOCUS Impact Investing. Teri is responsible for mission impact programming as well as mission investing where socially motivated investors and foundations can invest in communities to earn both a financial return as well as a social return. Teri has a law degree from the University of Richmond, her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and an MBA from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is also a member of the Virginia State Bar and an investment advisor representative for LOCUS Capital.
Don Macke, Senior Vice President
Don has more than 40 years of experience in the field of community economic development. He served on the staff of the Nebraska Legislature, the Cabinet of the Nelson Administration in Nebraska where Don served as Executive Director of the Nebraska Rural Development Commission, Co-Founder of the Nebraska Community Foundation, and worked as a consultant in 45 states, Canada and the Caribbean. Don is Senior Vice President of LOCUS Impact Investing. He co-founded the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship and provides leadership for its entrepreneurial communities, community development philanthropy and Transfer of Wealth work. Don has a MA in Regional Economics and a BS in Environmental Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Green Century Capital Management announced recently that its assets under management (AUM) reached a new landmark, exceeding $500 million as of October 20, 2017. Green Century is the investment advisor to the first family of fossil fuel-free responsible and diversified mutual funds in the U.S. Green Century’s unique combination of three characteristics allows it to make an impact well beyond its size: Green Century invests in sustainable companies, leads a shareholder advocacy program and is owned by nonprofit organizations.
Green Century (www.greencentury.com) has grown 435% from $114.9 million in AUM as of 9/30/12 to over $500 million as of 10/20/17. Its growth has mirrored both the rise of interest in sustainable investing and the growth of global fossil fuel divestment campaigns.
“More than ever, people want to make an impact through their investments,” said Leslie Samuelrich, President of Green Century Capital Management. “We are a mission-driven firm seeking to provide competitive returns for investors who want to align their values and invest in sustainable companies. We are proud to work with our investors to transition away from industries that have misled the public and have driven the devastating effects of climate change that we are witnessing today with the latest rash of hurricanes and fires. Fossil fuel-free investing is not only possible, but it is a relatively easy way to act on your concerns while providing potential financial benefits for your investments.”
One out of every 5 dollars of professionally managed assets in the U.S. is now invested with some consideration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors according to US SIF, the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment.
“Investing using ESG performance ratings has been shown to be a valuable tool for investors and is now being adopted more widely. But, while many investors appreciate this risk management tool, they also want to have a ‘real world’ impact,” Samuelrich said. “I believe they turn to Green Century because of our commitment to help them invest for the future without compromising their values and our ability to make a difference on issues they care about, such as protecting tropical rainforests and promoting sustainable agriculture. Green Century also was founded by nine Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) and supports these environmental and public health non-profit organizations with 100% of the profits earned managing the Funds.”
Green Century offers three mutual funds – the Green Century MSCI International Index Funded (GCINX and GCIFX), the Green Century Equity Fund (GCEQX) and the Green Century Balanced Fund (GCBLX), a leader in investing in green bonds. The Green Century MSCI International Index is the first fossil fuel free responsible and diversified international index fund and had over $30M in AUM in its first year ended September 30, 2017.
About Green Century Capital Management
Green Century Capital Management is the investment advisor to the Green Century Funds and offers three environmentally and socially responsible funds, the Green Century MSCI International Index Fund, the Green Century Equity Fund, and the Green Century Balanced Fund. Green Century works to curb climate change through fossil fuel-free investing, reinvestment in sustainable companies, and advocating with companies to improve their environmental policies and supply chains.
You should carefully consider the Funds’ investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses before investing. To obtain a Prospectus that contains this and other information about the Funds please click here: www.greencentury.com , email: email@example.com , or call: 1-800-934-7336. Please read the Prospectus carefully before investing.
Stocks will fluctuate in response to factors that may affect a single company, industry, sector, country, region, or market as a whole and may perform worse than the market. Foreign securities are subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, regional economic and political conditions, differences in accounting, and other unique risks compared to investing in securities of U.S. issuers. Bonds are subject to risks including interest rate, credit, and inflation. The Funds’ environmental criteria limit the investments available to the Funds compared to mutual funds that do not use environmental criteria.
This information has been prepared from sources believed reliable. The views expressed are as of the date of publication and are those of the Advisor to the Funds. The Green Century Funds are distributed by UMB Distribution Services, LLC.
Contact: Leslie Samuelrich, Green Century Capital Management Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (617) 482-0800 Twitter: @LSamuelrich
For updates on Green Century, register for our e-newsletter or follow us on Twitter.
This business conference with a theme of “How to Tackle GHGS in the Supply Chain” will deep dive into how business can deliver on net-zero commitments with a specific focus
This business conference with a theme of “How to Tackle GHGS in the Supply Chain” will deep dive into how business can deliver on net-zero commitments with a specific focus on supply chain decarbonization. Throughout focused discussion, we’ll assess the main areas of Scope 3 opportunity, challenges and innovation across industries. Over the three days, we’ll address how business can turn climate policy risks into opportunity, set credible Scope 3 targets, and the practical solutions for driving down supply chain emissions. We’ll equip delegates with the best-practice and guidance for communicating Scope 3 action, engaging suppliers, measuring and tracking progress, and more.
The Sustainable Investment Forum North America in partnership with UNEP-FI, returns in September for its 6th annual edition during Climate Week NYC, with the mission to mobilise sustainable investment towards
The Sustainable Investment Forum North America in partnership with UNEP-FI, returns in September for its 6th annual edition during Climate Week NYC, with the mission to mobilise sustainable investment towards a 1.5 °C world. As the world reacts to the new world order in the midst of COVID-19, green finance and sustainable ESG practices have a pivotal role to play in global financial markets. Our virtual forum will provide an online environment to grow and continue to engage with the sustainable finance community in these unprecedented times.
Theme: Reset. Refresh. Rebuild. While the pandemic threw the state of the world into chaos, as the globe begins to reopen, we finally have a chance to reset and rebuild.
Theme: Reset. Refresh. Rebuild. While the pandemic threw the state of the world into chaos, as the globe begins to reopen, we finally have a chance to reset and rebuild. The issues that came to light in 2020—from climate and sustainability to diversity and inclusion—should be made a priority, and we can use this momentum to create scalable change and impact. Join Worth for a one-day summit where we will be exploring how to not only keep the things that matter most at the forefront but also how to take action to help the world build back better.