Lucie Pinson talks about how to win the big fights.
I’ve been long overdue for a Beers with Blair conversation in the new year. Who better to talk to than the highly energetic, award-winning climate finance campaigner Lucie Pinson, CEO of Reclaim Finance. We spoke remotely, her in Paris, me in Sydney, and the discussion ranged from her work journey to some of her incredible successes over the years in getting banks and companies to move — and move more effectively — on climate change.
Lucie founded France-based Reclaim Finance in 2020, which she has headed up ever since. That same year, she was one of the six winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize — the Nobel Prize, if you will, for environmental activists. Her many successes include leading campaigns that saw 16 French banks end investment in coal and 15 of the world’s biggest insurers and reinsurers stop supporting new coal mines and plants.
I asked Lucie to share the secret for getting results from business sectors not known for moving quickly on anything that doesn’t generate profit.
“I try to identify the biggest fights where I can have the biggest impact.” Then she focuses on four priorities:
“Being strategic, using each campaign to become stronger and ensuring your work helps the broader movement … And being very well connected.”
Blair: So, is it hard to be taken seriously by the banking and insurance sectors and what motivates them to take action?
Lucie: “Just a few years ago it was hard,” she said. “Most had the idea that to work in finance, you needed to be a man and wear a suit and to talk only about economics and finance,” she said. “That started to change about a year ago. We’ve seen people everywhere become quite scared of the gravity of the climate crisis.”
Blaire: OK, but has that translated into more action? Is it real or just business as usual?
Lucie: “Most companies are doing what they need to do to protect themselves,” she said. “But we are still looking for big examples of companies and banks taking real action.”
AXA IM, which manages more than €869 billion ($994 billion) in assets, she said, recently announced new climate commitments, including moving “toward” divesting from high impact companies and bolstering investment in climate solutions.
Sounds like progress, but it’s easier said than done.
“We had hopes that AXA was going to be a real leader last year. Before COP26 they were well-positioned to do it,” she said. “They were one of the first to announce plans to move out of coal in 2015, but they lost their ambition.”
Rather than announce solid initiatives, the company continued to commit only to stop the financing of fossil fuels “at some point.”
Blair: So, are efforts like the Net Zero Asset Owners Alliance and the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) coming out of COP26 helpful or not?
Lucie: “These things have no enforcement mechanism, no way to kick out those that are greenwashing,” she said.
I can’t resist asking Lucie what she thought of the recent BlackRock letter by CEO Larry Fink that focused on stakeholder capitalism and climate change.
“BlackRock … it’s a joke. The company has done nothing real in the last two years,” she said. “They made a 2020 commitment that we thought might be the beginning of something. Nothing happened. Their voting record is full of holes. They continue to advocate for gas, ignoring the IEA mandate. They continue to support hundreds of new gas plants locking in decades of fossil fuels. Vanguard and State Street are the same.”
Blair: Any good companies?
Lucie: “Unfortunately at the moment, it’s a short list,” she said. “Allianz has been a driver of climate change action. When Oliver Bäte became CEO three years ago, he said we must lead the charge against climate change, but the company hasn’t cleaned up its investments. BNP Paribas had a great position in 2017 on oil and gas but has now tripled down on its financing of oil and gas.”
Given how slowly corporate climate action is moving, I ask Lucie how she and her team keep the pressure on and how they keep the dialogue going.
“We let financial institutions know if we are going to target them, let them see our reports before we release them so that they can fact check them and respond, make sure there are no mistakes. We want to make sure the debate is about the right issues, the big issues.”
Article by Blair Palese, a writer and project manager on a wide range of climate change projects. In 2009, she cofounded 350.org Australia and was its CEO for 10 years. Previously, she was a communications director for Greenpeace International and Greenpeace USA, head of international public relations for the Body Shop, editor-in-chief of Greenpages magazine, and worked at Washington Monthly and ABC.
VegTech™ Plant-based Innovation & Climate ETF (Ticker: EATV), a global ETF of publicly-traded plant-based innovation companies, recently launched on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
The first financial product from the VegTech™ Invest advisory, the VegTech™ ETF (Ticker EATV), includes 37 publicly traded companies actively innovating with plants and plant-derived ingredients and producing primary products that are animal-free. VegTech Invest advisors, Elysabeth Alfano and Sasha Goodman, believe these companies positively impact climate change as well as solve some of the world’s most pressing problems such as food security, deforestation, animal cruelty and growing public health concerns.
VegTech: A Pure-Play in Plant-Based Innovation
“We are excited to be what we believe is the first pure-play ETF that invests in companies innovating with plants and producing animal free products. We believe that today’s investors want a more resource efficient, climate friendly, and cruelty-free food and materials supply system…and want to invest their dollars in the same,” says VegTech Invest CEO and CMO, Elysabeth Alfano. “My partner Sasha Goodman and I are excited to offer an ETF that empowers the average person to invest with their values and participate in this large-scale, secular trend.”
“With this ETF, I am excited to drive capital to plant-based innovation companies. I also hope to encourage public companies to lead the way and replace animal products with innovations that are better for people, the planet and the animals,” VegTech Invest President and Fund Manager, Sasha Goodman says.
The Big Shift: A Secular Trend for Health & Sustainability
According to a June 29, 2020, study by Aramark, 65% of Gen Zers want a more “plant-forward” diet, while 79% would eat meatless meals once or twice a week, either now or in the future. Further, First Insight: The State of Consumer Spending noted on October 28, 2021, that “growing plants requires fewer resources than raising animals for meat,” and reported that 68% of Millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable products.
A March 23, 2021, report by Boston Consulting Group indicates that the alternative protein market will reach at least $290B by 2035. Indeed, Covid-19 has provided an unexpected boost to the alternative protein industry, which is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.2% from 2020 to 2027, according to an April 2021 report from Meticulous Research. That report also noted that an alternative protein-based diet can help reduce the effects of the novel corona virus on at-risk people as there is the presence of an abundance of macronutrients, micronutrients, and antioxidants.
About VegTech™ Invest
VegTech Invest™ is an investment management firm advising the thematic ETF, EATV. EATV invests in VegTech™ Companies: those that are actively innovating with plants and plant-derived ingredients and producing primary products that are animal-free.
At VegTech™ Invest, we believe these companies positively impact planetary health, human health, and animal health. We also believe that we are on the cusp of a long-term, secular trend of plant-based innovation that will result in the disruption of the global food and materials supply chain for a more efficient, climate friendly and cruelty-free system. The VegTech™ ETF is dedicated to providing exposure to this key and growing trend.
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Industry’s first publicly available, searchable resource of impact investing fund managers zeroes in on some of the industry’s most impactful managers.
ImpactAssets recently released the ImpactAssets 50 2022 (IA 50), a free annual database for impact investors, family offices, corporate and family foundations and institutional investors that features a diversified listing of private capital fund managers delivering social and environmental impact as well as financial returns.
This year marks the eleventh edition of the IA 50, which now includes the IA 50 Emerging Impact Managers list and IA 50 Emeritus Impact Managers list. Across all three categories, 143 impact fund managers reported assets totaling $116.96 billion invested in a range of asset classes and impact themes. Fifteen managers selected in this year’s showcase reported assets exceeding $1 billion. An additional ten had assets under management between $500 million and $1 billion.
“We’re excited about this year’s IA 50, with its dramatic expansion and diversification of impact fund managers across a spectrum of strategies, geographies and investment targets,” said Jed Emerson, ImpactAssets Senior Fellow, IA 50 Review Committee Chair and Global Lead, Impact Investing with Tiedemann Advisors. “This group of managers reflects the intentionality of our manager selection process to provide investors with a resource that shines a light on the breadth and diversity of impact fund managers. These managers bring unique and informed perspectives to the challenges impact investing is addressing.”
Some Highlights from this year’s IA 50:
Impact Focus – About 18% of IA 50 managers across all three lists focused on clean technology, alternative energy and climate change, making it the top impact theme. Microfinance, low-income financial services, and micro-insurance (16%) comprised the second-largest impact focus. Notably, 12% of funds selected Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as their primary investment theme. The most represented Sustainable Development Goals cited by fund managers included Decent Work and Economic Growth (21%), No Poverty (15%), Reduced Inequality (13%) and Climate Action (9%).
Diversity and Inclusion – While asset management as a whole remains overwhelmingly non-diverse—with approximately 2% of asset managers who are Black, Indigenous or People of Color — IA 50 fund managers are leading with diversity. This is most prevalent among IA 50 Emerging Impact Managers, where 50% reported that 50% or more of their investment professionals were people of color. In addition, 60% reported more than half of their investment professionals were women.
Asset Class – IA 50 fund managers drive their focus on deep impact chiefly in private markets. Managers reported that 55% of their funds are primarily private equity, while 36% are primarily private debt. Private Equity – Early Stage (US), with 22% of all funds, is the most represented focus of managers.
Impact and Financial Return – Although impact investing can offer a range of returns—from concessionary to above-market rates of return—IA 50 managers reported delivering both positive impact and competitive investment performance. A total of 74% of IA 50 managers target market rates or above market rates of return, and 97% reported delivering either in line or above their initial target returns. Emerging Impact Managers reported similar results, with 76% of managers targeting market rates or above market rates of return and 72% delivering either in line or above their initial target returns.
In addition, 25 of the IA 50 fund managers are signatories to the Operating Principles for Impact Management—a framework for investors to ensure that impact considerations are purposefully integrated throughout the investment life cycle—and 18 of the 25 have been verified to date, according to a separate analysis by BlueMark, a provider of independent impact verification services for investors and companies.
“The caliber of this year’s IA 50 lists is a product of the rigorous application scoring and analysis process that the IA 50 Review Committee has fine-tuned through the years,” added Sandra Kartt, CFA, Managing Director, Investments, ImpactAssets. “We’re thrilled to foster the continuing growth of these unique, innovative investing approaches addressing critical issues from climate to racial equity and gender equality.”
In addition to Emerson, the IA 50 Review Committee is comprised of impact investment experts and leaders, including Lauren Booker Allen, Senior Vice President, Impact Advisory, Jordan Park Group; Mark Berryman, Managing Director of Impact Investing, The CAPROCK Group; Ronald A. Homer, Chief Strategist, Impact Investing, RBC Global Asset Management (US) Inc.; Jennifer Kenning, Senior Advisor, IA 50 Review Committee and CEO & Co-Founder, Align Impact; Karl “Charly” Kleissner, Ph.D., Co-Founder of Toniic and KL Felicitas Foundation; Justina Lai, Chief Impact Officer and Shareholder, Wetherby Asset Management; Andrew Lee, Managing Director, Global Head of Sustainable and Impact Investing, UBS Global Wealth Management; Tony Lent, Co-Founder, Capital for Climate; Malaika Maphalala, CPWA® Private Wealth Advisor, Natural Investments, LLC; Cynthia Muller, Director of Mission Investment, W.K. Kellogg Foundation; Rehana Nathoo, Founder & CEO, Spectrum Impact; Stephanie Cohn Rupp, CEO and Partner, Veris Wealth Partners; Liesel Pritzker Simmons, Co-Founder and Principal of Blue Haven Initiative; and Margret Trilli, CEO and CIO, ImpactAssets.
The ImpactAssets Investment team led by Kartt conducted the application scoring and analysis process, and collaborated with Align Impact on fund analysis.
About the ImpactAssets 50
The IA 50 is the first publicly available database that provides a gateway into the world of impact investing for investors and their financial advisors, offering an easy way to identify experienced impact investment firms and explore the landscape of potential investment options. The IA 50 is intended to illustrate the breadth of impact investment fund managers operating today, though it is not a comprehensive list. Firms have been selected to demonstrate a wide range of impact investing activities across geographies, sectors and asset classes.
The IA 50 is not an index or investable platform and does not constitute an offering or recommend specific products. It is not a replacement for due diligence. To be considered for the IA 50 2022, fund managers needed to have at least $25 million in assets under management, more than three years of experience as a firm with impact investing, documented social and/or environmental impact and be available for US investment. Additional details on the selection process are available here.
The IA 50 Emerging Impact Managers list is intended to spotlight newer fund managers to watch that demonstrate potential to create meaningful impact. Criteria such as minimum track record or minimum assets under management may not beapplicable.
The IA 50 Emeritus Impact Managers list illuminates impact fund managers who have achieved consistent recognition on the IA 50.
ImpactAssets is an impact investing trailblazer, dedicated to changing the trajectory of our planet’s future and improving the lives of all people. As a leading impact investing firm, we offer deep strategic expertise to help our clients define and execute on their impact goals. Founded in 2010, ImpactAssets increases flows of money to impact investing in partnership with our clients through our impact investment platform and field-building initiatives, including the IA 50 database of private debt and equity impact fund managers. ImpactAssets has more than $2 billion in assets in 1,700 donor advised fund accounts, working with purpose-driven individuals and their wealth managers, family offices, foundations, and corporations. ImpactAssets is an independent 501(c)(3) organization.
The Report Highlights a Just Transition, Corporate Emissions, and Access to Affordable Housing
Progress stems from the connections we make — between our money, our values, and an array of social and environmental issues. In 2021, assets in the five Domini Funds reached over $3 billion. For Domini, this growth has gone hand-in-hand with new efforts to understand critical global challenges and look closely at how companies are responding.
The Domini Funds’ new report underscores how the legacy of our impact investment standards, in-house research, and investor community helped to address some of 2021’s most pressing issues—the climate crisis, cyberwarfare threats, and a number of other sustainability priorities.
“Our future holds hope to be greater and greener as investors come together with a mutual care for people, planet and profit,” says CEO Carole Laible. “We use our environmental and social investment standards to help us identify strong, long-term investments. We apply these standards consistently across all of our products as we believe it is how all investing should be done.”
Reducing carbon intensity
The Domini Impact Equity Fund’s portfolio was 61% less carbon intensive than its benchmark in 2021.
The fund has lowered its carbon intensity vs. the S&P 500 over the past two years. In 2019, it was 55% less carbon intensive than its benchmark.
Enhanced corporate climate analysis
Domini analyzes how companies’ business models are positioned for an environment that limits global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.
As a result, the firm strengthened its approach to corporate climate change policies and practices to better assess companies’ climate action targets.
New cybersecurity considerations
Cyberwarfare can target hospitals, critical infrastructure, and high-risk weapons facilities.
Domini views it as a potential weapon of mass destruction and has updated its Impact Investment Standards accordingly. The firm excludes from its investment universe the sovereign debt of countries most extensively involved in cyberwarfare.
Advocacy for a just transition
Emissions targets are just one component of an adequate and inclusive climate response.
Domini encourages companies to design climate transition plans that meet the needs of workers and support the most vulnerable communities.
Helping expand access for all
Providing affordable access to basic services and resources without discrimination helps communities thrive.
The Domini Funds, particularly the Domini Impact Bond, help channel capital to support the foundational needs of communities—such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure. The fund holds bonds of several issuers that work to improve access to affordable housing, financial services, and other basic services.
Direct dialogue with companies
Investors have a powerful voice. Direct dialogue, collaboration, and partnerships play a crucial role in improving corporate governance and encouraging stronger policies.
Domini—on its own and in collaboration with other investors—engaged 365 companies (53% U.S.-based, 47% international) on areas such as board diversity (race and gender), vaccine access, workers’ rights, and supply chain transparency.
Domini joined global institutional investors on the Pandemic Resilience 50 in engagements across real estate, international drug stores and pharmacy chains, technology companies, and transportation, encouraging companies to share board accountability for human capital management and workers’ well-being.
About Domini Impact Investments LLC: Domini Impact Investments LLC is a women-led SEC registered investment adviser that harnesses the power of finance to help create a better world. With an exclusive focus on impact investing that aims to help create positive outcomes for our planet and its people while seeking competitive financial returns, our continuous innovation and caring, diverse community fuel tomorrow’s prosperity as we endeavor to make “investing for good” the way all investing is done.
Before investing, consider each Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. Contact us at 1.800.225.3863 for a prospectus containing this and other important information. Read it carefully.
The Domini Funds are not bank deposits and are not insured. Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal. The market value of Fund investments will fluctuate. The Domini Impact Equity Fund is subject to certain risks including impact investing, portfolio management, information, market, recent events, and mid- to large-cap companies’ risks. The Domini International Opportunities Fund is subject to certain risks including foreign investing, geographic focus, country, currency, impact investing, and portfolio management risks. The Domini Sustainable Solutions Fund is subject to certain risks including sustainable investing, portfolio management, information, market, recent events, mid- to large-cap companies and small-cap companies’ risks. The Domini Impact International Equity Fund is subject to certain risks including foreign investing, emerging markets, geographic focus, country, currency, impact investing, and portfolio management risks. 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. These risks may be heightened in connection with investments in emerging market countries. The Domini Impact Bond Fund is subject to certain risks including impact investing, portfolio management, style, information, market, recent events, interest rate and credit risks.
The Adviser’s evaluation of environmental and social factors in its investment selections and the timing of the Subadviser’s implementation of the Adviser’s investment selections will affect the Fund’s exposure to certain issuers, industries, sectors, regions, and countries and may impact the relative financial performance of the Fund depending on whether such investments are in or out of favor. The value of your investment may decrease if the Adviser’s or Subadviser’s judgement about Fund investments does not produce the desired results. There is a risk that information used by the Adviser to evaluate environmental and social factors, may not be readily available or complete, which could negatively impact the Adviser’s ability to evaluate such factors and Fund performance.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500) is a market-capitalization weighted index representing the performance of large-capitalization companies in the U.S. Investors cannot invest directly in the S&P 500. The S&P 500 Index is a product of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC (“SPDJI”) and has been licensed for use by Domini. Standard & Poor’s® and S&P® are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC (“S&P”); Dow Jones® is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC (“Dow Jones”); S&P® and S&P 500® are trademarks of S&P; and these trademarks have been licensed for use by SPDJI and sublicensed for certain purposes by Domini. Domini product(s) are not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by SPDJI, Dow Jones, S&P, or their respective affiliates and none of such parties make any representation regarding the advisability of investing in such product(s) nor do they have any liability for any errors, omissions, or interruptions of the index.
The Domini Funds are only offered for sale in the United States. DSIL Investment Services LLC, Distributor, Member FINRA. Domini Impact Investments LLC is the Funds’ Adviser. The Funds are subadvised by unafilliated entities. 3/22
When adults encourage young girls to dream about their future careers, they often mention becoming teachers, nurses, or childcare workers. Young boys get to imagine themselves in suits and ties while handling business transactions or leading meetings. It’s one reason why men have long dominated the financial world – but women are changing the game with ESG investing.
Check out how women are leading in ESG investing and why it’s so important. The future will look much brighter for women and the planet because of this specific economic growth.
What is ESG Investing?
You’ve likely heard about stocks and bonds related to traditional companies like Apple or Google. ESG investing is a bit different. It stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing, which means investors consider those factors when considering the value of a potential investment.
ESG-focused companies will consider the environment and the well-being of their employees above traditional business practices and profits. The ethics behind a company’s operations are a primary component for ESG investors.
Why Is ESG Important for Women?
Companies that care about ESG values will be more willing to listen to their investors and consumers. Putting more money into those companies gives women a voice and additional economic prosperity.
U.S.-based ESG assets grew to $357 billion by the end of 2021, a substantial increase from the $236 billion in 2020. While women still have to deal with a gender pay gap and fewer professional opportunities than men, ethical investing can mitigate the systemic economic disadvantages and even provide more profits than traditional investments.
Corporations that listen to their retail investors equally to their board of directors will also help change the workplace structure. Female investors can push for more representation in leadership positions and provide valued input because the companies value their social and economic well-being beyond their shares in the company.
Types of ESG Companies
A few types of industries may consider ESG standards for their business. These are the most notable company types that are beginning to value sustainable business models, social well-being, and improved governance.
• Co-Op Corporations
Co-op companies are different from traditional corporations. Although they still have a board of directors, those individuals will prioritize business choices based on their ESG aspirations and the votes of their democratic enterprise. They start their company to create positive social change by working together with people on all levels of their organization, which makes ESG values inherent to their brand.
• Consumer Goods Brands
Retail companies and transportation corporations contribute significantly to climate change through airborne pollution and landfill waste. Given that 85 percent of consumers have become greener in their purchasing over the past few years, these companies have a significant incentive to align their practices with consumer demand.
People who live eco-friendly lifestyles by reducing their water usage or buying second-hand clothes still want to make financial investments. If they already have brand loyalty to sustainably minded companies, they’ll choose to make their ESG investments with those same brands. The expansive variety of consumer goods brands means more ESG investment opportunities will become available to women as more consumers demand green products and services.
• Mining, Industrials, Materials Companies
Sustainably minded investors want every aspect of their lives to support the planet. Materials companies and other businesses that utilize natural resources for their services or products will become greener as more young female investors want ESG-influenced stock.
• Financial Corporations
Some financial businesses hurt the environment – like bitcoin mining companies – and others have business models that don’t prioritize the well-being of their employees. Both things could change if they want to work with ESG investors and make the workplace more welcoming to women.
• Technology and Communications Brands
The high usage of natural resources in technology like computers and smartphones depletes the environment. Massive brands tend to prioritize profits over their employees and retail investors. An expanding pool of female ESG investors could make more of these companies turn to greener solutions and socially responsible business models.
Are Women More Likely to Invest Sustainably?
A healthy planet benefits everyone, so why are women more likely to invest in sustainable companies?
Recent research shows that while 51 percent of men will make investments in companies that don’t align with their values, only 19 percent of women will. It may relate to the same research demonstrating that men are twice as likely to be overconfident in their investments, while women make strategic financial decisions that require more of an in-depth understanding of each company.
Women are also more likely to live sustainably. Experts who conducted a study on gender-based altruism found that women are more often altruistic than men, so prioritizing sustainability is a quick way to care for themselves and others.
When these findings come together, they explain why female investors are more interested in ESG investment opportunities than men.
Women Are Leading in ESG Investing
ESG investments are for everyone, but these factors explain how women are leading in ESG investing specifically. The opportunities for economic prosperity and caring for others make it an excellent opportunity for women who share those values.
Article by Jane Marsh, an environmental journalist and the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co. She covers all things related to the environment, sustainability, and renewable energy. Jane has been featured on sites like Renewable Energy Magazine, Manufacturing.net, and Nation of Change. When she’s not writing, Jane loves hiking, canoeing, and spending time with her rabbit and birds. You can keep up with her by subscribing to Environment.co.
There’s a conventional attitude toward work that entails leaving everything you do outside of work behind, as though nothing else exists. With this perspective, you are encouraged to fit your family, your morals, yourself, around the job.
I was raised that way. As an elementary school kid, if I had to call my mom at work she’d answer the call in a hushed tone, as though she was receiving an illicit phone call. Her office was not interested that her 10-year-old needed to be picked up from school, let alone that she had kids at all.
These jobs still exist, many of us have worked these jobs. Thankfully, there is another path, and some of us are fortunate enough to be able to take it. These days, it is my passion and interest in environment, social, and governance (ESG) investing that guide my career, not the job itself. Today, I work as Chief Sustainability Officer and co-founder at Vert Asset Management. But getting here wasn’t straightforward, or easy.
I did not study to go into finance. On a lark, I landed a college internship at a brokerage firm during the height of the dotcom boom in the late 90s. My financial services initiation, some would say ‘hazing’, was straight out of movies like Boiler Room. It was fast-paced and exciting to be near a NASDAQ trading desk. But there was an unspoken understanding that I leave my conscience at home. It was clear to me from this early exposure that investments had lost its humanity (if it had any to begin with).
In the field of finance there has long been an expectation that your background and interests should be in math and cold calculations. This is why so many engineers find their way into financial services. However, for those like myself (a history major) who are more interested in context and strategy, there is space in financial services for those roles, but they are more peripheral.
My light bulb moment occurred in 2006 when I was working in the UK at an institutional asset manager. I learned that UK city and county pension funds were required to ask socially responsible questions when searching for new asset managers. Why? Because they represented a large number of disparate beneficiaries who lived and worked in their geographical area, and they invested for the protection of all of these people’s retirement.
Back then, most investment professionals, including my bosses, rejected the notion that investments should take into account “non-financial” issues like environmental, social, and governance risks. Needless to say, things have changed. The 2020 Global Sustainable Investment Alliance (GSIA) report estimates that 35 percent of all professionally managed assets now incorporate sustainability criteria. Seven out of the ten largest pension funds in the world integrate ESG, including Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund with assets over $1 trillion at the end of 2021.
Is ESG Investing One Way to Attract More Women into Finance?
I’ve tried several times to devise an exit out of finance to work in more creative and collaborative industries. The last time I left, I thought that in order to really roll-up my sleeves and work on corporate accountability, I needed to work in policy and research. It was while I was working at a non-profit on financial reform that I realized that there was just so much information available that investors were not including in the way they look at markets.
There is an entire ecosystem of service providers creating and disseminating non-financial information to markets now including: non-profits like CDP, ESG researchers, accountants like KMPG, PwC and E&Y. In fact, E&Y just launched E&Y Carbon to help companies with carbon accounting and corporate disclosures to the marketplace. There are standard setters working to refine what is meant by non-financial metrics with financial materiality. In 2018, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) identified material indicators in 77 industries. They are now part of the International Sustainability Standards Board bringing integrated reporting mainstream.
ESG issues are interdisciplinary. While financial and accounting metrics have become standardized over time and through usage, ESG metrics are still evolving. Many ESG metrics are still considered ‘externalities’ because the market struggles to measure their economic value – things like clean air and well-being are hard to price. But integrating these environmental and social issues into markets is an opportunity for those from non-math fields because it takes an understanding of people and planet to value them.
Research by Professor Brad Barber, a Professor at UC Davis Business School and a member of Vert Asset Management’s Advisory Board, analyzed the absence of women in finance in 2017 by examining the percentage of women who’ve earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation as a proxy. It was less than 20 percent. Barber concluded that more women would be in financial services if they were encouraged to study STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, math. This would certainly help. But there are now more non-STEM roles in financial services. Investment management needs financial planners and advisors, researchers, sustainability experts, integrators, and communicators too.
There are increasingly more professional educational choices on sustainable investing to choose from than ever before. The CFA Institute now offers a Certificate in ESG Investing. The College for Financial Planning offers the Chartered SRI Counselor (CSRIC). The standard-setter SASB offers its own Fundamentals of Sustainable Accounting Certificate (FSA).
Flexible and Remote Work a Welcome Change
I found it difficult to get a job with small children at home even after reorientating my career to focus on sustainability. One friend told me bluntly that as a young mother, “you just aren’t attractive to the marketplace.” A well-known sustainability consultancy didn’t hire me because I had not worked directly with corporate sustainability reports before, despite the fact that I have a background in finance and completed two master’s degrees in environment policy and sustainability.
I took the rejection as an opportunity to start my own business consulting with financial advisors on the landscape of philanthropy and impact investing. I called it Values-Based Investing Consulting, borrowing from a concept that was used at the time within financial services to start to orientate investors to investment managers around an emerging set of non-financial criteria.
Entrepreneurship and small businesses often offer more flexible working conditions than bigger firms. But the pandemic has changed all that quite dramatically. Women can now work from home with flexible hours at all sorts of companies.
In 2016, that entrepreneurial spirit led me to co-found Vert Asset Management with my husband Sam Adams. As the Chief Sustainability Officer, I lead on engagement which is three main areas: 1) communicating with the companies we invest in about ESG topics like net-zero goals, 2) building capacity within financial services for ESG disclosures, and 3) creating good business practices as a business ourselves, a Certified B Corp.
If you are interested in the interdisciplinary topics of environmental, social, and governance and how they influence businesses, you might consider a career with ESG. If you have hard time reconciling the person you need to be for your day job versus the person you are outside of work, ESG could be a good fit. If you want to be part of the solution, instead of being part of the problem, again ESG! The traditional requirements of a finance career, i.e., a STEM background and the lack of a personal life, are falling away. There are so many opportunities today at the intersection of finance, business, and sustainability.
Article by Sarah Adams, Chief Sustainability Officer and Co-founder at Vert Asset Management.Vert was founded to bridge the gap between financial services, capital markets, and environmental advocacy.
Sarah has a multidisciplinary experience across the finance sector and environmental policy. Before Vert, Sarah started a consultancy educating financial advisors on sustainable and impact investing in the UK and US. Previously, Sarah worked in institutional finance. Additionally, she worked on social finance initiatives for advocacy NGOs in the UK.
Sarah is interested in the development of sustainability education for financial services. She sits on the USSIF Education Committee and is a teacher for the Chartered SRI Counselor (CSRIC). She earned the CFA UK Certificate in ESG Investing and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board’s FSA Credential. Sarah has a BA in History from UCLA (US), a MSc in Environment and Sustainable Development from University College London (UK), and a MA in Environmental Law from SOAS (UK).
ESG strategies are rapidly gaining popularity as interest in supporting companies that manage their carbon footprints, invest in their employees, and promote diversity surges. As more and more funds claim the ESG label, how can investors effectively decide which investments are genuine?
Avoiding Investments that Masquerade as ESG Choices
If you’re seeking to align your financial investments with your values, your decisions about which funds to include in your portfolio take on an additional dimension of complexity. Naturally, you should look for funds that most closely align with your own principles. And, above all, you should take steps to avoid any ESG-labeled fund that does not diligently pursue its stated objectives.
A Practical Framework for Evaluating ESG Funds
Here are some steps you can take to perform effective ESG due diligence and avoid being misled by labels:
Read the prospectus and review the holdings. The prospectus should identify whether all the fund’s holdings are evaluated using ESG metrics, or whether the fund simply employs screens to exclude a few types of companies, such as tobacco or gambling firms, but does not vet each company in the portfolio for broad ESG progress. The prospectus should also reveal whether a fund “considers” ESG or fully integrates ESG criteria into its investment process and portfolio construction. In addition, reviewing the holdings can provide insights about whether the Fund’s portfolio aligns with the claims made by the fund company.
Learn about the fund’s investment philosophy and process. Does the fund have a discernable ESG philosophy, and does the investment process include ESG analysis? Does the team perform their own ESG materiality assessment, or do they rely exclusively on third-party research providers for ESG ratings on companies? Do the portfolio managers and analysts actively buy into the ESG process, and are they truly engaged in assessing material ESG risks and opportunities?
Investigate what the portfolio managers seek to gain by choosing ESG-vetted investments. Do they consider ESG progress an indicator of company quality? Are they seeking to avoid material ESG risks?
Look for markers of stewardship excellence. Does the fund manager disclose their proxy voting decisions, and do these decisions align with their stated ESG values? Does the investment firm encourage positive change in portfolio companies through engagement with senior management? Does the firm maintain memberships in any independent organizations that promote ESG investing, such as Ceres or US SIF?
Consult third-party sources. For example, Morningstar has several ESG rating systems. The Morningstar Commitment Level qualitatively evaluates funds’ commitments to ESG and rates them on a scale ranging from Leader to Low. The Morningstar Sustainability Rating measures how the companies held in portfolios are managing their ESG risk relative to the fund’s Global Category peer group. Funds may also be given carbon scores by Morningstar.
The good news is that there are many more choices for ESG investors than ever before. However, because regulatory standards don’t yet exist, it is important to do your own homework to make sure your financial investments match your values.
Article by Lori Keith, the Director of Research at Parnassus Investments and Portfolio Manager of the Parnassus Mid Cap Fund with responsibility for portfolio management for the firm’s Mid Cap strategy. She joined Parnassus Investments in 2005 after serving as a Parnassus research intern. Before joining the firm, Ms. Keith was a Vice President of Investment Banking at Deloitte & Touche Corporate Finance LLC and was a Senior Associate in Robertson Stephens & Company’s investment banking division. Prior to that, she worked in the management consulting practice at Ernst & Young. Ms. Keith received her bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and her master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School.
The views expressed are subject to change at any time in response to changing circumstances in the markets and are not intended to predict or guarantee the future performance of any individual security, market sector or the markets generally, or the Parnassus Funds.
ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL, AND GOVERNANCE GUIDELINES – The Fund evaluates financially material ESG factors as part of the investment decision-making process, considering a range of impacts they may have on future revenues, expenses, assets, liabilities, and overall risk. The Fund also utilizes active ownership to encourage more sustainable business policies and practices and greater ESG transparency. Active ownership strategies include proxy voting, dialogue with company management and sponsorship of shareholder resolutions, and public policy advocacy. There is no guarantee that the ESG strategy will be successful.
Mutual fund investing involves risk, and loss of principal is possible. There are no guarantees any investment strategy, including a socially responsible (ESG) investment strategy, will be successful in any market environment.
The Parnassus Funds are underwritten and distributed by Parnassus Funds Distributor, LLC.
US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment is the leading voice advancing sustainable 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. Our members, representing $5 trillion in assets under management or advisement, include investment management and advisory firms, mutual fund companies, research firms, financial planners and advisors, broker-dealers, banks, credit unions, community development organizations, non-profit associations, and asset owners.
Ceres is a nonprofit organization transforming the economy to build a just and sustainable future for people and the planet. Ceres works with the most influential capital market leaders to solve the world’s greatest sustainability challenges. Through powerful networks and global collaborations of investors, companies and nonprofits, Ceres drives action and inspires equitable market-based and policy solutions throughout the economy.
Before investing, an investor should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the Funds and should carefully read the prospectus or summary prospectus, which contains this information. A prospectus or summary prospectus can be obtained on the website, www.parnassus.com or by calling (800) 999-3505.
The concept of financial wellness is often associated with managing your money the right way or having a certain net worth. But this definition leaves out something just as important as the numbers – how your finances impact your mental and physical well-being. At OneEleven Financial Wellness, we are changing that by looking at more than just the numbers and taking a holistic approach to personal finance. Our Wealth Coaches help our members change their relationship with money for good and build healthy spending habits.
According to the APA, money is the #1 cause of stress in America. There is a huge need for apps like OneEleven that can help Americans reduce this stress and get to the root cause of why it’s happening. We’re not alone in these beliefs, Well+Good listed financial wellness apps (including OneEleven) as one of top self-care trends for 2022. This year, it’s predicted that financial wellness will continue to expand as we embrace this new convergence of money, psychology, and technology. Now more than ever, people have strategies at their fingertips to learn effective financial habits and take control of their financial situation.
What Motivated Me to Leave Wall Street and Launch OneEleven
My own money story begins with my mother, who at a very young age had to learn how to support herself financially. At age 16, my mom was living completely on her own in New York City. Despite having massive financial struggles in her early years, she was able to become a homeowner and comfortably retire early – all because she was able to reframe her relationship with money.
This isn’t the norm. We live in a world where socioeconomic status often predicts your future. But seeing this kind of financial transformation firsthand and knowing what is possible, I became deeply motivated to help people manage their finances. After graduating college, I started my career on Wall Street in private banking where I ended up managing money for individuals with $25 million or more in the bank.
Working on Wall Street, I became painfully aware of the wealth gap in America and how hard it is to get good financial guidance if you’re not already rich. The type of financial services available to my private banking clients weren’t accessible to people who needed it the most. Even more, important financial topics are not taught in school. Our education system never taught us how to have an emergency fund or spend in a way that is in line with your values.
I felt that the status quo needed to change so I left on a mission to democratize financial wellness in our country by launching OneEleven. The OneEleven Financial Wellness app gives our members access to 1-on-1 private coaching, custom financial plans (that would otherwise cost them thousands of dollars), educational video lessons, and accountability to stay on track to achieve their goals. Our goal is to make financial wellness as accessible as possible. Our memberships are offered by organizations to their employees at little to no cost, as well as directly to individuals on our website.
Money Advice for Women
• Boost your money knowledge.
Learning about personal finance is so powerful. The knowledge will give you a better understanding of your financial situation and also help you increase your confidence when making financial decisions. There are many ways to do this (podcasts, courses, books, coaching, etc.), but what’s important is you find the method that works best for you. At OneEleven, our clients have access to an entire library of short video lessons where they can learn about money topics in just a few minutes per day. They can also work 1-on-1 with their Wealth Coach to apply what they learn to their personal lives.
• Work on your relationship with money.
The majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, but oftentimes this is a result of spending habits more than income. That is why a big part of our approach at OneEleven is helping people to develop healthy spending habits and changing their relationship with money so that they can become financially well. The end result of this can look like a couple of things:
You’ve created a spending plan that is aligned with your personal values. Every dollar you spend is getting you closer to the person you want to become.
You saved up an emergency fund with at least 3-6 months of your living expenses. With this financial insurance, you won’t ever have to fear unexpected expenses.
You feel confident about your financial decisions. This can be achieved by taking the time to learn those money topics that weren’t taught in school.
You have a plan for your future, and you are consistently saving towards those goals. When you are funding your future goals and see that number increase, it is motivating and encourages you to stay on track.
You have little to no financial stress!
By creating a realistic spending plan, building healthy money habits, and investing in your future, you can break the regretful spending cycle, avoid debt, and increase your happiness by feeling confident with your financial situation.
• Start Investing Sooner Rather Than Later.
When it comes to investing, the best time to start is now! Sometimes high-interest credit card debt or a lack of savings may take priority, but the sooner you start investing the better.
Statistically, women live longer than men; the average life expectancy at birth is 79 years for women, 72 years for men (PRB). Additionally, women also earn less because of the pay gap. So, this means we have to do a lot more with a lot less.
The solution is compounding and understanding the time value of money. If you want to be a millionaire by age 65, start saving at age 25 by putting $322 away a month. If you wait to start your retirement savings until 35, you’d need to put away $736 to become a millionaire at age 65. That’s more than double the contribution, just because you waited 10 years.
Article by Dani Pascarella, CFP®, Founder of OneEleven Financial Wellness
Dani is a Certified Financial Planner™ and earned a B.A. and M.A. in International Business from the University of Florida and a M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University. She previously worked on Wall Street where she managed money for ultra-high net worth individuals with at least $25 million in investable assets. While working on Wall Street, Dani became painfully aware of the wealth gap in America and left to democratize financial education in our country by launching OneEleven. In her free time, she loves hanging out with her husband and black lab. Her favorite activities include yoga, boxing, and reading biographies.
Above: Stella meeting with representatives from SunCulture, an organization connecting rural farmers with solar power.
In my 15-year career working as a woman in impact investing and its various facets geared towards investing in women, I have learned that communities and families benefit greatly when women thrive economically.
In December 2021, I had the privilege of visiting several organizations in Kenya supported through Praxis Mutual Funds’ commitment to community development investing. This was alongside a visit to my family in my birth country, after five years of being away. This article is a personal reflection on how impact and gender lens investing delivers real-world impacts – and how advisors can help their clients understand those impacts.
Impact investment moves capital to where it’s needed most. This often revolutionizes the lives of women and girls. During my visits, I saw what capital was achieving, on the ground among rural women, many of whom were poor, and on small farms using affordable products developed and customized to meet their needs. This solidified the importance of this work in my mind.
Gender lens investing (GLI) is critical in closing global gaps in access to capital and thereby increasing human capital wealth, education and helping countries achieve their full developmental potential. In a more diverse and equal society, everyone benefits.
Project in Kenya
Many rural women in Kenya face specific and unique challenges such as a lack of easy access to clean water and affordable clean energy. When there are appropriate interventions, these women are placed on the fast track to achieving economic milestones that can propel them and their families into the middle or the upper-middle class.
The organizations I visited were not founded with the primary purpose of helping women, but by evaluating the results of these investments through a gender lens, it becomes clear that the positive effects on the lives of women and girls are disproportionately greater.
SunCulture – This organization focuses on providing energy access through solar home and irrigation systems. About 65 percent of land in sub-Saharan Africa is tilled, plowed, weeded and watered manually. I met with two industrious women farmers whose lives had been transformed by access to energy.
With access to a water pump for their wells, they could irrigate their farms more efficiently and increase productivity. The energy then led to increased yields and higher incomes for their households, which in turn meant that these women could invest in their children’s educations – creating more opportunities for the future of their families.
BioLite – BioLite developed a clean energy cookstove and home lighting solar system with USB ports for charging devices like cell phones. They aim to bring electricity to the nearly 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa who are not connected to the national electricity grid and the hundreds of millions more who live with unreliable connections and are plagued by frequent blackouts.
Investors need to appreciate the benefits these stoves offer women specifically. To meet the domestic needs of their families, many rural women often walk hours to fetch water or carry wood for cooking, which can be arduous and takes time away from a girl’s education or a woman’s economic opportunities. These regionally appropriate innovations not only connect the whole families with electricity, but the stoves allow women to cook more safely and redeem precious time to better themselves educationally, economically and socially.
What Does the Future Hold?
Impact investments with a gender lens are projected to increase over the next decade across all asset classes. In recent years, we’ve seen growing demand from investors to take gender into account when considering impact investing.
Additionally, the projected wealth transfer to women is predicted to increase from about $50 trillion in 2015 to $72 trillion, that is two-thirds of the worlds’ wealth, by 20301. Women investors are more likely to demand increased inclusivity, diversity, and values-aligned investing, which may lead to increased consideration of gender in impact investing.
Gender-lens investing is a field that will continue to grow, considering the increased attention and engagement with the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)*. SDGs relevant to gender include SDG 5 (gender equity), SDG 10 (reduce inequality), SDG 8 (sustainable economic growth) and SDG 7 (sustainable energy).
The SDGs aim to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. As more investors and investment companies call for alignment with these goals, gender equity and equality will become areas of greater interest for impact investors.
What Can Financial Advisors Do?
Advisors interested in impact investing that incorporates a gender lens should initiate the conversation. They can open the door to a discussion on a client’s gender lens investing goals by engaging with clients on how they can better align their portfolios or a portion of their portfolios with their values.
Secondly, advisors can familiarize themselves with gender lens investing topics and be ready to engage with the clients, especially women, as their percentage of global wealth continues to grow.
Another option for advisors is to encourage the use of donor advised funds that hold immense opportunities for increasing a client’s impact. DAFs are a powerful tool that allows investors interested in aligning their investment portfolios with their values to make charitable contributions while simultaneously getting tax benefits.
Advisors and/or their clients can take part in insight trips and observe how their funds contribute to improvement in the lives of women and girls. This is a great way for younger people to be inspired at the start of their investment journeys and for established investors to confirm the difference their investments are making in the world.
One of my hopes is that, as an industry, we might build greater collaborations around gender lens investing themes. For example, investment firms, both for-profit and non-profit, and other stakeholders such as government entities interested in gender lens investing can collaborate on sharing information, participating in deals, spurring innovation, building systems of educating clients and thereby accelerating greater amounts of capital flowing into this theme.
The cumulative effect of all these efforts will deliver real impact and will also help investors understand the range of possibilities available on the investing spectrum — from 100 percent philanthropic to 100 percent market-rate returns and everything in between.
How Praxis Approaches Community Development Investing
By committing approximately 1 percent of its funds to Community Development Investing nationally and internationally, Praxis has further deepened its commitment to GLI. This investment is managed by Calvert Impact Capital, a nonprofit investment firm that makes loans to roughly 100 mission-driven organizations worldwide with high impact social and/or environmental focus such as micro-finance, affordable housing and cooperatives.
As of 2021, the CIC portfolio had impressive gender impact numbers. Women represented:
70% of the end clients of the borrowers.
53% of the borrower staff.
42% senior leadership in borrower organizations.
43% of the board of directors.
Impact investing through a gender lens is an accelerator to gender equity and equality not only in the United States but globally. If we want to effectively give people the tools they need for economic and educational advancements, focusing on raising the economic power of women is a key step in creating lasting change. That is why at Praxis Mutual Funds, we are committed to making real impacts when it comes to gender equity and why we are passionate about showing advisors the effects of gender lens investing.
Article by Stella Tai, Stewardship Investing Impact and Analysis Manager
Stella provides primary leadership for the promotion, integration and development of impact investing and reporting. Before joining Praxis, she was assistant vice president of Lending at FINANTA, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in Philadelphia. Stella has served on the board of Chariots for Hope, a nonprofit supporting a network of eight children’s homes in Kenya, her country of origin. Connect with Stella on LinkedIn.
 “Here’s who will benefit the most from the $59 trillion ‘Great Wealth Transfer’”: Bankrate, Sept. 25, 2018 * In 2015, the UN announced the Sustainable Development Goals as a call to action for countries, governments, funders, and investors to unite to accomplish 17 global goals. These goals recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. The UN has provided a framework of specific indicators to measure progress and a timeframe to achieve them by 2030, both of which reinforce the urgency and crucial nature of this work.
Praxis Mutual Funds is a leading faith-based, socially responsible family of mutual funds designed to help people and groups integrate their finances with their values. Praxis is the mutual fund family of Everence Financial, a comprehensive faith-based financial services organization helping individuals, organizations and congregations. To learn more, visit praxismutualfunds.com and everence.com, or call 800-348-7468.
Consider the fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before you invest. The fund’s prospectus and summary prospectus contain this and other information. Call 800-977-2947 or visit praxismutualfunds.com for a prospectus, which you should read carefully before you invest.
Praxis Mutual Funds are advised by Everence Capital Management and distributed through Foreside Financial Services, LLC, member FINRA. Investment products offered are not FDIC insured, may lose value, and have no bank guarantee.
In January 2021, I wrote in GreenBiz that the year ahead for water could be viewed as the roaring 20s and as a period of creative destruction. As I reflect on 2021 and the year ahead, I am doubling down on this view with three trends that are proof points that water innovation is accelerating and disrupting the status quo.
Extreme Decentralization is Moving into your Home
The move to diversify from centralized water and wastewater treatment systems has been underway for years. This is not to imply that centralized systems will be completely replaced. Instead, there are now alternatives for water supply and treatment.
In my view, these personalized water systems include technologies for off-grid water supply systems (such as the panels from Source), home water reuse (including technologies from Hydraloop) and real-time water data information sources for quantity (Conservation Labs) and quality (Safespout).
Off-grid water supply, reuse and home water performance will be enabled by these real-time data digital technologies. View these technology categories as augmenting centralized water and wastewater treatment systems and delivering access to water where centralized systems are unavailable. An important initiative in this trend is the work of the 50 Liter Home Coalition which has a vision to create abundance for water through the adoption of advanced water technology in the home.
Exponential Technologies are Taking Off
Deloitte defines exponential technology as “innovations progressing at a pace with or exceeding Moore’s Law” that “evidence a renaissance of innovation, invention and discovery … [and] have the potential to positively affect billions of lives.”
Xponential Works adds that “exponential technologies are those innovations that continue to advance exponentially, with disruptive economic and lifestyle effects.”
Examples of technology categories in the water sector include digital technologies and advanced materials. Digital technologies encompass artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality (AR, VR) and robotics.
The applications of these technologies are appearing in the utility and private sector to vastly improve resource use, reduce carbon emissions and manage infrastructure, manufacturing assets and supply chains. Company examples include Plutoshift and Fido Tech, the work of KWR Water and WatchTower Robotics. Advanced materials are being applied in off-grid water supply technologies (such as Source) and treatment membranes (evove).
Typically, water technology innovation is linear: slow and evolutionary not revolutionary. But these exponential technologies are disruptive, not just evolutionary, innovations that will transform public sector and private sector water management. One just has to look at how exponential technologies have disrupted other sectors such as the energy sector. The rise of residential solar is one example that is illustrative of what could happen for water.
The Hydration Revolution
This is not an indictment of tap water but instead, a recognition that consumers are moving to alternative hydration methods and in-home water treatment solutions. The reality is that an estimated 60 million Americans don’t trust tap water. The reasons are complex but can be broken down into perceived risks from tap water, such as the taste; real risks such as lead contamination; and brand preferences for bottled water. Regardless of the motivation, this lack of trust in tap water is driving innovation and consumer preferences about how they hydrate.
According to research by Asher Rosinger, Anisha Patel and Francesca Weaks, Americans don’t trust the water from their tap. The two state, “Taking that into account that an estimated two million Americans don’t have access to safe drinking water, about 59 million people have tap water access from either their municipality or private wells or cisterns but don’t drink it. While some may have contaminated water, others may be avoiding water that’s actually safe.”
Since the 2013 to 2014 timeframe (just prior to the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan’s water system), the prevalence of adults who don’t drink their tap water has increased by 40 percent. The number of children not consuming tap water rose by 63 percent. The authors reference a 2020 study by anthropologist Sera Young, which found that tap water avoidance was declining before the Flint water crisis that began in 2014. In 2015-2016, however, it started to increase again for children.
The implications of this trend are that consumers seek alternatives to tap water and installing in-home treatment systems. They are attracted to “personalized water” options (such as SodaStream or rocean) and tracking hydration as part of the trend in personal wellness (via bottles and apps such as Rebo). While these supplies will not replace traditional water utilities, they will challenge them to manage customer perceptions and consider potential partnerships with alternative hydration businesses.
What This All Means: Investors Just Add Water
The rush is on to invest in the water sector. Disruption of the water industry (I view the “water industry” as very broadly defined beyond water utilities and water technology providers) is accelerating and being driven by investors.
Investors are looking for innovative solutions to address water scarcity, poor quality and access to safe drinking water. It is likely that most investments will be in evolutionary innovation technologies; however, some will go towards hydrating disruptive technologies and new business models such as water as a service.
These three trends, fueled by increasing investor interest, will continue to challenge and disrupt the water sector status quo. The traditionally slow pace of innovation and scaling of new technologies and business models is giving way to faster adoption in response to the harsh reality of the impacts of climate change; democratized access to data and actionable information; and failing aging infrastructure and outdated public policies.
Originally published in GreenBiz on January 12, 2022
Article by Will Sarni, founder and CEO of water strategy consultancy, Water Foundry. He is also the CEO of the Colorado River Basin Fund, the first placed-based water-focused investment fund in the United States.
Prior to Water Foundry, Sarni was a managing director at Deloitte Consulting where he established and led the water strategy practice. He was the founder and CEO of Domani, a sustainability strategy firm, prior to Deloitte.
Sarni is the author of five books: Corporate Water Strategies; The Water Tech Book; Beyond the Energy-Water-Food Nexus; Water Stewardship and Business Value; Creating 21st Century Abundance Through Public Policy Innovation.
Sarni is a co-founder of WetDATA and a host of the podcast, The Stream with Will and Tom. He is a board member of Flowater, Silver Bullet, Project WET and the Rocky Mountain Rowing Club. He was the Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board for the WAITRO Global Water Innovation Summit 2020 and was on the Scientific Program Committee for Stockholm World Water Week from 2013 through 2019. His advisory work includes working with the 2020 X-PRIZE (Infinity Water Prize), as a Bold Visioneer for the 2016 X-PRIZE Safe Drinking Water Team and a Technical Advisor for the Climate Bonds Initiative: Nature- Based Solutions for Climate and Water Resilience. He is also on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Water Security.
How business can lead a just transition towards transparent, resilient and regenerative food systems. This virtual business conference will highlight the practical steps key actors can take to build more
How business can lead a just transition towards transparent, resilient and regenerative food systems. This virtual business conference will highlight the practical steps key actors can take to build more sustainable, resilient and regenerative food systems. We’ll bring together leading brands and the right stakeholders to identify the main areas of opportunity and innovation within the food and beverage industry.
Dallas Arts District, Dallas, TX
The 2022 EarthX Film Festival is four days of film, music and interactive environmental programs and events set in the heart of the Arts District.
Dallas Arts District, Dallas, TX
The 2022 EarthX Film Festival is four days of film, music and interactive environmental programs and events set in the heart of the Arts District. Our mission is to bring awareness of the environmental crisis in order to create sincere action on both an individual and communal scale; to inspire local and global change on how we as humans affect our home planet and our fellow beings. We aim to include Texas, and the Southwest, in the conversation on climate change through compassionate, positive, truthful storytelling.
The Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA
We’re in the thick of a civilizational stress test. It feels like a permanent five-alarm emergency, signaling that massive change is inevitable.
The Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA
We’re in the thick of a civilizational stress test. It feels like a permanent five-alarm emergency, signaling that massive change is inevitable. But it’s more than just change – this scenario demands authentic transformation. Although the tide is turning, the existential challenge is that time is not on our side. We need to fast-forward the transformation. We’ll dive deep into solutions, visions, strategies and paradigm shifts to do just that. At this moment, our power lies in community. We know the solutions residing in nature surpass our conception of what’s even possible, and we know that human creativity is rising to solve the fundamental crises we face. There’s a window through, and we’ll open it together.