A New Calculus for Sustainable Investing

Scientists at the Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC) at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and Harvard University, in partnership with UBS Asset Management, have developed a scientific framework to inform investment decisions that make positive contributions to sustainable environmental stewardship and human well-being. Among the beneficiaries are the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals that promote access to clean water, maintaining human health, food security and biodiversity protection.

The research group jointly led by Charles J. Vörösmarty, founding director of the Environmental Sciences Initiative at the ASRC and John D. Spengler, the Akira Yamaguchi Professor of Environmental Health and Human Habitation at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, described both the team’s overall strategic vision and working framework in a Policy Forum article published in the journal Science on February 2. 

Environmentally sustainable investments in the United States now total one-fifth of all professionally managed assets in this country with rapid expansion of this asset pool anticipated for many years to come.

“Other frameworks for measuring corporate sustainability focus on how internal corporate production processes at the facility level support environmental integrity or human beneficiaries, but give limited guidance for assessing the longer-term impact of business practices,” said Vörösmarty. “Our proposed framework relies on scientifically-based metrics to help investors evaluate how companies’ actions, products and services support the environment and human well-being. Indeed, this is a new calculus for sustainable investing.”

The research teams are testing this framework by analyzing the environmental and health benefits of a $2.1 billion portfolio of public equities managed by UBS Asset Management on behalf of PGGM, the Dutch pension fund. Four challenge areas are being considered: water, climate change mitigation, human health and food security.

Read the full GC news story.

Submitted on: FEB 1, 2018

Category: Advanced Science Research Center | General GC News | Press Room