Another year, another week. The sixth National Ethical Investment Week (NEIW) has been and gone. With a series of well-attended events, acres of press coverage and some great broadcasts, the industry did its bit to raise awareness of this growing, vital and enlightened investment sector. All under the excellent stewardship of Raj Singh and the team at UKSIF, including new chief executive Simon Howard.
As Howard put it, “There has been a step change in NEIW this year, with more content and more debate than in previous years.” The media coverage itself was particularly impressive and you can read all about it here.
So, the bunting has been taken down; balloons and banners put into storage. The tired and aching of sustainable, responsible and ethical investment can return to their natural habitats.
Now we can all stop thinking and talking about ethical investment for another year and get back to conventional investment and business as usual.
As Will Day of PwC told us at Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Sustainable Investment Bootcamp, “Business as usual is not an option. Or if it is going to be an option, it’s going to be a short plank and a long drop.”
We are consuming more than the Earth can realistically provide without jeopardising the immediate future. We consume far more than we need. Over-consumption in the developed world, more than over population, is the immediate threat. But as the growing population in the developing world adopts our production and consumption patterns, our problems with resource scarcity and pollution will become ever more acute. The evidence of the threat we face is clear, present and overwhelming.
But every threat or problem creates an opportunity. The opportunity is here and now, and it is to invest in a more sustainable future.
The future of investment is either sustainable, social, crowdfunded or all three. The future of energy is distributed, domestically produced and clean. The future of commerce and industry is low-carbon, low pollution and high efficiency. The future of food production, forestry and fishing is sustainable. The future of travel, transport and spending needs to be responsible and ethical. The future of fresh water is essential to life and it is the scarcest of resources.
Reading those guides, you’ll see that aligning the growth you need in investment value with the values of all decent and honest humans is possible. Conserve the planet, protect the human race and generate enough prosperity for all, has to be the mantra of the age of scarcity.
We are simply temporary stewards of our communities, our country and our planet. We have a clear responsibility to leave behind a viable planet and ensure the next generation do not think of us as rapacious merchants of death with a hideous dogma of profit above all other considerations – as we do today of those who championed slavery.
National Ethical Investment Week may be over for another year, but the real work starts today.
Move your money, make your money make a difference, know what your money is doing in your sleep, see the sense in sustainability, be a smart investor and optimise your return as if the long-term mattered. Money can do good.
Help our planet be as blue and green tomorrow as it was yesterday. There is no plan(et) B.
Well done to Simon, Raj, Caroline, Ian, Pamela, Susanna, Anna, Hannah, Sean and Seth and all the funds, advisers, churches, NGOs and other organisations who made NEIW 2013 such a success. Roll on 2014.