On September 21st, I joined more than 400,000 people in New York City for the People’s Climate March. It was a remarkable experience. Marching was great, but the best was stopping to watch the stream of people pass by. It was so inspiring to see so many different people, from so many different places. Although each person had their own reasons for showing up, we were united in a clear voice for climate justice.
Lingering from the experience is a strong sense of hope. Hope that there will be enough leaders in time. Hope that we will avoid the worst case scenarios of climate catastrophe. Hope that an economic transition is coming. Here’s why I’m optimistic:
The Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) is a co-working space founded in 2004. I joined in 2009 as an aspiring social entrepreneur out to transform the world of finance, and in doing so, found my home in Toronto.
‘The Home That Community Bonds Built’. That’s what I like to call the big red building at 720 Bathurst Street in Toronto. People are always asking me to define social enterprise or quantify the impact on a community bond. Instead, I simply invite them to come visit CSI Annex and join me for a beverage in The Coffee Pub. A quick tour of the building, and they get it. When I tell them it was financed through a community bond, their jaw hits the floor as they start to understand the potential for community finance to change the world.
CSI is looking to buy another building in Toronto, and is expected to issue another round of community bonds soon. Anyone interested in investing can contact Leah Pollock leah[at]socialinnovation.ca.
I love clients who push me towards new ideas in sustainable investment. Currently, I’m working with a lovely couple in Toronto who hold the honour of being my ‘deepest’ green clients so far. They are adamant that not a single dollar be invested in fossil fuels, and won’t tolerate any banks who themselves hold investments in coal, oil, and natural gas. I can’t, in good conscience, let them lose out on the strong financial returns and diversification benefits that come with exposure to the financial sector. So I got creative within these constraints, and here’s what I’ve come up with:
The solar industry has been getting lots of positive news lately. An election in India has brought in a new government with the ambitious vision of deploying enough solar energy to ensure at least one lightbulb in every home by 2019. At the same time, the Chinese government is taking a hard turn towards renewables as air pollution chokes their cities and population. The new plan will triple their solar capacity to 70 gigawatts by 2017.
As the clock ticked midnight and we entered 2014, I decided it was a good time to review the financial performance of my model portfolios. I’m happy to report that 2013 was a great year for sustainable investment strategies, with each of my model portfolios doing about as well or better than its traditional benchmark. The following table presents annual Net Asset Value (NAV) returns from Morningstar on Jan. 6, 2014:
A couple of weeks ago, I gave a quick talk at the Ontario Nonprofit Network's annual conference in Toronto. It was a packed house with about 350 people in the audience (including Premier Kathleen Wynne). My task was to showcase the importance of the nonprofit sector to Ontario's economy, and to explain how organizations who maximize revenue can maximize their impact.
It wasn’t that long ago that the green economy was seen as an outlier. Traditionalists were banking on the rebuild of established sectors like automotive and finance. The green economy was readily dismissed as tiny and although it might one day be important, that day was far off in the future. Well, the future is here my friends. Since 2009, I’ve been tracking the growth of the global green economy through the Green Transition Scoreboard®. Every six months, I hunt for the best research to quantify private investments in the following sectors - Renewable Energy, Efficiency, Green Construction, Green Research & Development, and Cleantech. Back in 2009, research was scarce and I had to scrounge for numbers. Now, I’m finding robust numbers from some of the most respectable market research firms. My initial finding of $1.4 trillion has blossomed into a massive $5.2 trillion. Read the latest press release here.