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ShareAction Launch Sustainable Responsible Investment Network

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ShareAction, a responsible investment charity, is leading a Europe-wide team of think-tanks, campaign groups, NGOs, trade unions and faith groups to push sustainable and responsible investment in the continent. ShareAction will launch the never-before-seen collaboration, dubbed the European Responsible Investment Network (ERIN), at its two-day conference in Berlin today and tomorrow. Over 140 delegates are expected to attend the event at the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

The network is made up of 25 organisations from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and the UK. Members range from Dutch sustainable investment associations and Italian ethical banking groups to NGOs that address Norway’s sovereign wealth fund’s investment practices.

Friederike Hanisch, European Outreach Officer at ShareAction, who has been building the network over the past year, said: “The level of interest in the network is a testament to the variety of ways in which Responsible Investment can be used to have a positive impact. We have a range of projects lined up, and we are looking forward to using this collaborative approach to secure change in investment practices across Europe, and at a policy level.”

Catherine Howarth, Chief Executive of ShareAction, hopes the network will help foster a European investment industry that is a global leader in Responsible Investment.

She said: “The Responsible Investment landscape has changed dramatically in the last ten years, but much remains to be done to embed sustainable thinking and practice in the strategies of European pension funds and other large investors. Civil society has a critical role to play in driving progress. We are both proud and excited to be playing a role in uniting civil society to advance Responsible Investment in Europe. Together these groups have the potential to make Europe a global leader in the field.”

Vicky van Heck, Sustainability Manager at VBDO, the Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development, said: “In the past few years the Netherlands has become a frontrunner on sustainability in Europe. We see the ERIN network as an opportunity to strengthen and expand these practices to make Europe a global leader in Responsible Investment, since so many organizations from different countries are involved.”

The Berlin conference will have a particular focus on the low carbon transition. Many network members are focused on achieving the goal set out at the Paris Agreement in December 2015, to limit a rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees, with ambition for 1.5. The roles of private finance and investor engagement have been widely recognised as crucial to achieving this target. With climate finance experts such as 2°Investing Initiative and Carbon Tracker among its members, the ERIN network hopes that a collaborative approach will strengthen efforts to achieve 1.5 to 2-degree-compliant investing across Europe.

Anthony Hobley, CEO of Carbon Tracker, said: “Two degree scenarios need to become the new normal for how companies report on their future business strategy. Investors who care about shareholder value cannot ignore climate risk any longer.”

Thomas Meinert Larsen, spokesperson for AnsvarligFremtid, a campaign to direct Danish pension funds away from investments in fossil fuels, said: “We hope that the network will encourage pension funds to divest from projects that are reliant on morally unacceptable and financially risky fossil fuel extraction, such as coal, tar sands, and Arctic and deep sea drilling, which are not in line with the political goal of the Paris Climate Agreement.”

Other network members focus on social and governance issues. Trade unions hope to use the network to advance workers’ rights through investor engagement. German Protestant development organisation Brot für die Welt works to strengthen faith-based investors’ awareness of sustainable investment.

Alexander el Alaoui, policy advisor for Brot für die Welt, said: “Investing responsibly is not only an ethical obligation but a social necessity. In times of increasing social disparity, private and institutional investors alike must place social justice at the centre of their investment decisions. Faith investors, in particular, have a remit to invest in line with their mission, and this network will help them strengthen their voice and impact.”

Asking questions at Annual General Meetings (AGMs) has proven to be an immensely successful tool for company engagement both in the UK and across Europe. Through its AGM Army of individuals who attend UK AGMs, ShareAction has developed expertise in this kind of approach. ERIN will enable members to share expertise and best practice on AGM activism in their own countries, and also help them access proxy shares for attending general meetings in other countries.

Andrea Baranes from the Fondazione Culturale Responsabilità Etica, said: “We’ve been involved in active shareholding for several years, buying shares of big Italian corporations to intervene at AGMs and build a dialogue with the companies. We believe that a cross-European approach is fundamental. The European Responsible Investment Network can have a real impact in this area, involving as many shareholders as possible, helping organisations to share experiences and best practice and ultimately have a stronger impact.”

Environment

These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money

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eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/cyano

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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