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Public Call for Financial ‘Kitemark’ to Help Identify Sustainable Financial Products

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Financing Climate Change by Itzafineday via flickr

The Good Money Week annual research has highlighted an overwhelming public demand for the introduction of ‘kitemark-style’ label to allow customers to identify which financial products are sustainable/ethical.

In total, 63% of the UK public backed the idea and 43% said it would make them more likely to buy a financial product, rising to 53% of 18-24 yr olds.

The Good Money Week poll found a surprising lack of awareness of the £1.5 trillion sustainable investment market in the UK. In total, 54% of the GB public is unaware that sustainable and ethical financial products exist, rising to over 63% among millennials (18-34 year olds).

Simon Howard, Chief Executive of UKSIF, the body coordinating Good Money Week, said,
“The Good Money Week research throws down a very clear challenge to the sustainable investment sector: to step up on awareness and assurance. Not enough people in the UK know ethical and sustainable options exist for their pensions and savings and not enough are ready to buy without a mechanism such as a kitemark-style label to sort the wheat from the chaff. Creating and managing such a label would be no easy task, but is a job worth doing if it helps build trust and more sustainable capital markets“.

Headline findings from today’s Good Money Week research of the British public show:

• 60% believe in the ability of the financial sector to generate high returns in an ethically and responsibly way.
• 69% want a new law requiring financial advisors to ask customers if they’d like to exclude specific sectors or companies.
• Almost one in four people (23%) are likely to invest 10% of their pension in impact investment (i.e. funds that seek positive social or environmental returns alongside financial returns).
• 35% would like their bank, pension or savings provider to offer a fossil free option, up from 32% last year. Demand is highest among millennials – almost half (46%) want a fossil free option.
• London has the strongest support for sustainable and ethical investment in the UK – 53% of Londoners want to make at least some positive difference with their money compared to 45% nationally.
• 49% think sustainable or ethical investment funds should not invest in fracking companies.

The research was conducted by YouGov for Good Money Week, which aims to raise awareness among individuals, financial advisers, pension funds and charities of all types of sustainable investing and finance in the UK. Close to 50 activities will be held across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as part of the Week, which commenced yesterday.

Amanda Young, Head of Responsible Investment at Standard Life Investments, said,

“While it is exciting that we are celebrating the ninth year of Good Money Week, the survey results show there is still a lack of awareness of the variety and depth of values-based investment solutions available. Our own research demonstrates that investors have, over time, moved away from wanting to avoid specific sectors to wanting to invest in companies that deliver a positive impact. There are several solutions to help meet this goal from ethical and sustainable & responsible investing through to the growing interest in impact investing. Increasingly it is less about sectors and more about how companies behave and contribute to society. We do believe that it is possible to address the world’s many social and environmental challenges while still making a positive financial return.”

Huw Davies, Head of Retail Banking at Triodos Bank, said,

“Triodos Bank would very much welcome the introduction of a kitemark-style scheme to help people easily invest their money in ways that are good for people and the planet. Indeed, our own research conducted for Good Money Week showed that 53% of investors think it should be standard for financial institutions to make customers aware where their money is being invested[1]. We hope that all the major players in the UK financial system will rally around an initiative like this to return greater transparency and trust to the sector.”

Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer, Aviva Investors said:

It’s clear that the UK public are interested in sustainability, and as an industry, we need to do more to help people understand where their savings are being invested.

“In September Aviva published a report entitled ‘Money Talks – How Finance can further the Sustainable Development Goals’ at the UN, calling for a kite-mark system to be introduced – a Fairtrade for Finance – so that fund managers can demonstrate their credentials as responsible investors.

“Voluntary standards in other industries are relatively commonplace, like Fairtrade in the retail sector, but there is no equivalent for the finance industry. We would like to be able to certify that our funds take sustainability seriously so that we can assure our clients that our investment approach is both long term and responsible.”

Regional differences

The Good Money Week/YouGov survey showed significant regional differences when it comes to attitudes to ethical and sustainable investment.

• Scotland is the region most likely to respond positively to the introduction of a kitemark-style label – 49% of Scots are more likely to buy financial products, compared to the national average of 43%.
• London is the region with the strongest support for sustainable and ethical investment – 53% of Londoners want to make at least some positive difference with their money compared to 45% nationally.
• London and the South are the regions most aware that sustainable or ethical financial products exist – 52%compared to the national average of 46%.
• Northern Ireland is the region most likely to invest 10% of pensions in impact investment – 28% compared to 23% nationally.
• The Midlands – 75% of people in the Midlands want to see a new law that ensures financial advisors ask clients if they want to exclude specific sectors or companies from their investments based on their investment practices.

Environment

Extra-Mile Water Conservation Efforts Amidst Shortage

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water conserving

While some states are literally flooding due to heavy rains and run-off, others are struggling to get the moisture they need. States like Arizona and California have faced water emergencies for the last few years; water conserving efforts from citizens help keep them out of trouble.

If your area is experiencing a water shortage, there are a few things you can do to go the extra mile.

Repair and Maintain Appliances

Leaks around the house – think showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, and more – lead to wasted water. Beyond that, the constant flow of water will cause water damage to your floors and walls. Have repairs done as soon as you spot any problems.

Sometimes, a leak won’t be evident until it gets bad. For that reason, make appointments to have your appliances inspected and maintained at least once per year. This will extend the life of each machine as well as nip water loss in the bud.

When your appliances are beyond repair, look into Energy Star rated replacements. They’re designed to use the least amount of water and energy possible, without compromising on effectiveness.

Only Run Dishwasher and Washer When Full

It might be easier to do a load of laundry a day rather than doing it once per week, but you’ll waste a lot more water this way. Save up your piles of clothes until you have enough to fully load the washing machine. You could also invest in a washing machine that senses the volume of water needed according to the volume of clothes.

The same thing goes with the dishwasher. Don’t push start until you’ve filled it to capacity. If you have to wash dishes, don’t run the water while you’re washing. Fill the sink or a small bowl a quarter of the way full and use this to wash your dishes.

Recycle Water in Your Yard

Growing a garden in your backyard is a great way to cut down on energy and water waste from food growers and manufacturers, but it will require a lot more water on your part. Gardens must be watered, and this often leads to waste.

You can reduce this waste by participating in water recycling. Using things like a rain barrel, pebble filtering system, and other tools, you can save thousands of gallons a year and still keep your landscaping and garden beautiful and healthy.

Landscape with Drought-Resistant Plants

Recycling water in your yard is a great way to reduce your usage, but you can do even more by reducing the amount of water required to keep your yard looking great. The best drought-resistant plants are those that are native to the area. In California, for example, succulents grow very well, and varieties of cactus do well in states like Arizona or Texas.

Install Water-Saving Features

The average American household uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water every single day. You obviously can’t cut out things like showering or using the toilet, but you can install a few water-saving tools to make your water use more efficient.

There are low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucet aerators. You could also use automatic shut-off nozzles, shower timers, and grey water diverters. Any of these water saving devices can easily cut your water usage in half.

Research Laws and Ordinances for Your City

Dry states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada must create certain laws to keep the water from running out. These laws are put into practice for the benefit of everyone, but they only work if you abide by the laws.

If you live in a state where drought is common, research your state and city’s laws. They might designate one day per week that you’re allowed to water your lawn or how full you can fill a pool. Many people are not well versed in the laws set by their states, and it would mean a lot to your community if you did your part.

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Environment

Cyprus is the Forerunner for Ecotourism

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When I was looking for a second citizenship, I happened to see One Visa’s offer on Cyprus Citizenship by investment program. I had heard about Cyprus being a beautiful country, but I did not know much else, so I decided to start my own research about this gem of a place.

After I did some research, I discovered that Cyprus is a popular destination for tourists. Unfortunately, heavy tourism and the associated development affected villages here and there, with some communities being slowly abandoned. To avoid this from happening any further, Cyprus went into ecotourism, and today, it is the forerunner in this arena. Let’s look in further detail at ecotourism in Cyprus here.

How was it started?

It all started in 2006 with the launch of the “Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative.” This program has the sole scope of promoting ecotourism developments in the tourism industry. It concentrates on those areas which require conservation and environmental safety. At the same time, it helps develop social, as well as economic statuses in the rural parts of Cyprus. Through this program, the government was able to acknowledge that ecotourism will play an essential role in the future of Cyprus, with the concept gaining momentum among tourists from all over the globe.

How to go about it?

So, now you are interested in going for an ecotourism vacation in Cyprus. How will you go about it? I would immediately say that everyone should visit the quaint Cypriot villages spread throughout the island. These communities have a smaller population, and not many tourists visit. They make for a great relaxing spot. Enjoy seeing the bustle of village life go by where simple pleasures abound. Most hamlets are linked by specific minibus tours which ferry tourists to these havens. These trips will have a regular schedule, aimed at promoting ecotourism further. Such tours will be regulated to ensure that while the villages can benefit and develop, they do not get overpopulated or overcrowded with tourists. Therefore, you can be sure to enjoy the beautiful sceneries that nature has to offer here.

If you are wondering if there are any activities to do here, my answer would be: “Yes, plenty.” You can go for some guided walks across various regions here. Here you will be able to explore the diversified natural beauty and wildlife of the area. Several agritourism activities and services are planned to open shortly. Once launched, you will be able to engage in picking olives, milking goats, and several other such events here.

What can be learned?

Although we are aware that natural resources need to be preserved, we do not always remember it in real life. When we go on tours such as these, we can realize the significance of protecting nature. Also, when more and more people visit these places, the concept of ecotourism will become popular among more people. Awareness about ecotourism is set to grow and spread throughout the world. Subsequently, sustainable tourism will gain popularity around the globe with Cyprus being the forerunner for ecotourism .

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