2 min read
Gunnela Hahn, Head of Sustainable Investing, Church of Sweden
Phenix Capital Aug 24, 2022 11:49:00 AM
For me, investing is about improving life for us and generations to come. The disconnect from the real economy in the financial industry surprised me when I started over 20 years ago in the industry.
When investee companies make their investments, they aim to improve their products and processes for the benefit of the real economy – at least if they are given the right incentives from regulators and financiers.
The idea of the market economy is that companies should serve people and the planet, while making a decent profit and by this contribute to prosperity. How can we not be impact investors?
HOW DO YOU SEE THE ROLE OF FAITH-BASED ORGANISATIONS IN THE IMPACT INVESTING SPACE?
From what I have seen, the potential is huge, but these organisations need to join forces. The scattered structure in many faiths makes it hard for them to use their financial muscles and their voice to create real-world impact.
Often, they put a small sum into a local impact project but place the bulk of their assets without any sustainability or impact considerations. Faiths globally could also use their spiritual wisdom to advocate eternal principles like human dignity and respect for the living planet, and how to express this in an investment context.
WHAT HAS BEEN A HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER?
When we divested from coal, oil and gas in 2008, many asset owners and asset managers wanted to learn more about how and why we took that decision, and how it affected the financial returns. I could showcase our good performance and at the same time push for more investment products in climate solutions.
Thus, I got a great opportunity to talk about long-term sustainable value creation in the real economy as well as in our portfolio and to question traditional financial analyses and presumptions.
Climate change is a game changer, just like our ongoing depletion of natural resources and biodiversity on a global scale. So old truths need to be revised if we are to maintain a decent life and civilization for human beings.
ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC SDGs AND IMPACT THEMES THAT YOU SPECIFICALLY IDENTIFY OR SYMPATHIZE WITH?
Droughts, floodings, wildfires, pandemics, migration or war – it affects all of us, and as always, people with small margins are hit the worst. So, all the SDGs that aim for the poor and vulnerable are dependent on a functioning planet Earth.
Therefore, to create resilient societies we need to stabilize our climate and restore forests, soils and degraded land so that they can feed us and protect us with the ecosystem services we rely on.
The SDGs are not made for investors and are very hard to translate into finance in a meaningful way. The food and fibre sectors involve many people, not least farmers, and I do believe we need to invest in these value chains.
If we worked with nature and not against it, we would get better lives at a lower cost. To me, that sounds like a very attractive investment.