Thursday , October 17 2019
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ESG Investing & The Quest For Sustainability

Summary:
Almost anywhere you look there is commentary on sustainability. What used to be known fairly narrowly as “socially responsible investing” has now grown into a broad effort captured by the acronym “ESG” (environmental, social, governance). These issues range from climate change to sustainable food production to better versions of capitalism. It is easy to infer from all this coverage that sustainability is something we should be talking about. It is far less clear, however, what we should actually be doing about it. The bad news is that some sustainable efforts are ineffective and even harmful. The good news is that the dialogue on sustainability is maturing in meaningful ways. In August the Business Roundtable made waves when it released a statement indicating that the purpose of a

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Almost anywhere you look there is commentary on sustainability. What used to be known fairly narrowly as “socially responsible investing” has now grown into a broad effort captured by the acronym “ESG” (environmental, social, governance). These issues range from climate change to sustainable food production to better versions of capitalism.

It is easy to infer from all this coverage that sustainability is something we should be talking about. It is far less clear, however, what we should actually be doing about it. The bad news is that some sustainable efforts are ineffective and even harmful. The good news is that the dialogue on sustainability is maturing in meaningful ways.

In August the Business Roundtable made waves when it released a statement indicating that the purpose of a corporation is to benefit all stakeholders, including customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders. Signed by 181 CEOs, this statement marked a break from the past and made a lot of headlines.

Interestingly, several other organizations have also recently upped the ante on highlighting various sustainability issues. The Economist recently published its “Climate” issue under the pretense that “Climate change touches everything this newspaper reports on.” The Financial Times recently heralded a “New Agenda” which explicitly responds to the fact that the “liberal capitalist model” has “come under strain.” Advisor Perspectives recently sent out its “most read commentaries on ESG, SRI and impact investing.”

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