Sustainable investing: Doing well by doing good

When we share values and ambition, what we can achieve can be truly staggering. Nowhere is this truer than in the field of sustainable investing. Working together, we can do well and do good.

Most of the important things that get done are by groups, not by individuals. They’re done by a group of people working together. I think that’s a very important lesson to learn.

Robert M. Solow, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences, in our Nobel Perspectives series

The global economy’s growing in an often unsustainable manner, and the gains we’ve made are frequently at the expense of future generations. The UN’s 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) aim to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all by 2030. To reach these goals, we’ll need to see a combination of public, and private efforts and investments.

Now is the time to act, together.

Our pledge

Private capital can - and must - take a stand to achieve the UN’s goals. At the 2017 World Economic Forum, we committed to directing $5bn of our clients’ money over the next five years to impact investments that support these goals. Working with a global network of experts and partners, all of our businesses are engaged in initiatives to build solutions that will help meet the UN’s goals, and we’re already a fifth of the way to meeting our investment commitment. By working together, we can create a brighter future.

It’s more than money

We’re proud to support this year’s Mashable Social Good Summit, taking place in New York on September 17. It brings together a community of global citizens and thought leaders to discuss what we want the world to be in 2030. This year’s summit will consider how we can unlock technology’s potential to make the world a better place.

We’ll be streaming the event live, with exclusive content on Facebook and Twitter. Follow us today to say up-to-date.

Private capital. Public good.

We’ve partnered with visionaries who’ve developed innovative ways to meet the UN’s SDGs. But meeting these goals takes more than just vision. Governments may play a role, but private capital is what's needed to make sure these initiatives have a scalable impact.

Investing in education

Paperclip is Hong Kong’s first dedicated start-up campus, providing education to entrepreneurs. Founder Deepak Madnani elaborates: "Our hope is to provide early-stage entrepreneurs access to the highest quality, early-stage innovation support."

As Nobel Laureate Eris S. Maskin remarks in our Nobel Perspectives series: "Education and job training are expensive". We can’t expect low-paid workers to finance it themselves, and employers may not be willing or able to, which is where people like Deepak can make a difference.

He wants to take Paperclip "to China, India, Africa and the Middle East, where something like this will be really powerful." Deepak wants "a villager, a farmer, to be an entrepreneur," and to enable people in developing nations to grow their ideas.

Tech for the developing world

We’re working with entrepreneurs who use technology to help people in the developing world. In our Nobel Perspectives series, Nobel Laureate Myron S. Scholes says: "Technology is key in everything we do." While Sir James Mirrlees notes that access to fertilizers and, in many cases, irrigation water, has allowed China’s poorest to lift themselves out of poverty as it has "lifted the local wage rate."

Accessing modern agricultural tools is only one of the challenges facing farmers and other enterprises in the developing world. A reliable energy supply is also important. According to CrossBoundary Energy, African enterprises say that securing electricity is their biggest obstacle to growth, so CrossBoundary’s founder, Matthew Tilleard, set up the firm to help them access solar energy. CrossBoundary is also reducing the ongoing cost of electricity for its clients, as solar is now the cheapest source of power in Africa.

Sustainable investing: what and why?

According to the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (USSIF), sustainable investing: "Considers environmental, social and corporate governance criteria as well as long-term competitive financial returns and positive societal impact."

In the US alone, sustainable and responsible impact investing grew by over 33% from 2014-2016. We’re now at a point where demand for sustainable investment opportunities is outstripping supply.

A Cambridge Associates and Global Impact Investing Network study in 2015 showed that, in the longer-term, sustainable investing has similar returns to traditional funds.

If private capital works with governments, visionaries and other partners, it can create help achieve the UN’s SDGs, create real change and the realize financial and social.

Can I truly make a difference?

In our Life’s Questions series, Paul Simon, impact investor and philanthropist, tells us why he thinks it’s possible to both do well and do good.

See how UBS can help

Talk to us about how you could invest with impact.

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