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Invest in Your World of Tomorrow Today

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Should I invest in the world I’m in? Or the one I want?” asks an advertisement from UBS AG. The wealth management ad defines an evolving approach to sustainable investing (first called exclusion, then integration, and then impact). The question of sustainable investing clearly sits on a high fulcrum for retirement plan fiduciaries, when contrasted with traditional investing” which is typically understood to focus on maximizing financial gains with little to no explicit consideration of social or environmental impact.

But last October, the Department of Labor redefined sustainable investing by issuing an Interpretive Bulletin (IB 2015-01) that gives ERISA plan fiduciaries the green light to complement “traditional investing” with sustainable investing models that include socially responsible strategies. Fiduciaries may consider environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria as complements to economic analysis. In the case where the economic merits of two investments justify both investments, a fiduciary can consider ESG criteria as the tie-breaker in that investment decision. These strategies might exclude companies with unsustainable characteristics or ESG strategies that include best-in-class selection of companies exhibiting best practices in corporate social responsibility. 

With ERISA fiduciaries, which includes investment managers of pensions, 401(k)s, and retirement funds, now free to evaluate investments on these non-financial merits, retirement investors can expect to be provided more information about ESG issues in their retirement accounts. Much of the wealth management press has written about the ardent interest of high net worth Millennials to invest with an eye toward societal impact and their personal ethical values. But average worth Millennial retirement

investors and even Gen X’rs share interests in investing with values and impact. This should not be so difficult to imagine when you look at world issues today, ranging from global warming, to drought, to terrorism.

The application of ESG investing tools and analysis allows investment managers to cross-check their economic investment decisions against the company or portfolio’s ESG rating. These ESG scores have matured as they have garnered seven years of data points and have been applied to investments with improving methodologies. Today’s ratings combine numerous elements captured from government fillings, NGO disclosures, and corporate self-reporting from an increasingly wide array of sustainability criteria. All of this newlyavailable information makes the data more relevant to investors and potentially correlative to superior financial performance.

The sophistication behind these ratings has also deepened as it has been calibrated to the relevance of the scoring criteria to the industry or region of a given company’s business. These indicators are further crossreferenced to matrices shaped by the companies or institutionally by organizations like the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB). Relevance and materiality are important because not every sustainability issue may impact every company. Wastewater might be more impactful to a company or its community in manufacturing compared to the banking or insurance industries, for example. There are, however, issues that can have a universal impact, such as global warming which has impacts ranging from agricultural production all the way to catastrophe modeling that predicts natural disasters at insurance companies.

Ask yourself this: Are you willing to give up 0.5% return to save the planet?

The great news today is that you don’t have to concede that 0.5%.

In fact, you might post a gain on the broad market financial benchmarks and do it with lower risk. Formidable research over the last three years has shown this to be the case. The obstacle that remains is only the morass of marketing on Wall Street. I encourage retirement investors to look at their pension, 401(k), or state retirement plan, and ask, what impact is my retirement portfolio making on the world? And then ask your plan fiduciary: how can I measure it? If they can not answer this, tell them that the Department of Labor says they should.

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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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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