An Earth Day Guide To Action Through Impact Investing

Guest post by Rehana Nathoo, VP of Social Innovation at Case Foundation 


Since 1970, April 22nd has marked the celebration of Earth Day, an opportunity for many individuals and organizations to renew their commitment to consume less, learn more and explore new ways to protect and preserve our planet. Historically, focusing on the role that investments can play in support of Earth Day isn’t something we’ve heard a lot about. Yet, the growth of the impact investing sector means that more and more socially conscious investors are thinking about the role that capital can play to blend profit and purpose.

In honor of Earth Day 2017, here are a few of ways you can start on your own journey.

Renew your personal commitment

The Earth Day Network, and many organizations like it, promote opportunities, events and resources for each of us to celebrate and recommit to conservation and preservation.

Earth Day Network suggests a few actions we can take this year, such as:

  • Reducing your environmental footprint by exploring how you can reduce your impact on the planet
  • Stop using disposable plastic by taking a pledge to reduce consumption
  • Planting or donating trees to combat deforestation and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions

Explore the opportunity for investment

At the Case Foundation, we’ve been committed to scaling impact investing over the last several years. This work has focused on inspiring and educating a range of investors on the opportunity to align their dollars with personal values. With recent growth across impact investing, many investors are poised to activate their impact strategies. We’re emboldened by the sectors experiencing the most growth and showcasing real investment opportunities.

Climate change is one such sector. The Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, a network of sustainable investment organizations recently released its 2016 Investment Review. The Investment Review tracks and reports out on sustainable investment activity worldwide, with specific trends across multiple geographies. Though the GSIA includes investment activity across many approaches to impact—beyond impact investing alone—the increase in activity is inspiring.

According to the 2016 report, $22.89Tr of assets were professionally managed under responsible investment strategies, up 25% from 2014. Responsible investment—as a broad range of strategies and asset classes—represents over 1/4th of professionally managed assets globally.

In the U.S., the report suggests that climate change remains the most significant environmental factor assessed across sustainable assets. Even in smaller asset classes and funds – like private equity and venture capital – the most popular ESG issue last year was clean technology. Climate change and carbon emissions were specific areas where funds incorporated interventions into their investment process.

Growth across sustainable investing—and the role that climate plays—is an exciting opportunity for environmental themes to continue to be front and center as investable opportunities.

Learn from others to kickstart your investment journey

Earth Day is also an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of trailblazing organizations that are similarly interested in protecting our planet.

  • Last month, we wrote about the compelling case study of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund aligning their endowment more closely with their programmatic mission. In a webinar led by Jean Case, Justin Rockefeller of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Jameela Pedicini of Perella Weinberg Partners outlined the concrete steps to blending profit with purpose. In the case of the RBF, they undertook tactical steps, like defining their impact, knowing what you own, and committing to measurement.
  • In March of this year, our partners at The ImPact, continued their broader mission to on-board families into impact investing with a primer on Water. With the growing role that HNW individuals and families will play in scaling impact investing, the primer helpfully outlines considerations for families who want to invest in water to help preserve our natural resources.
  • ImpactAssets has also developed material to explore the more nascent sectors within which impact investing can grow. Sustainable agriculture is one such opportunity. In adding 2 billion people to the planet over the next 30 years, our practices around sustainable farming and food production are in need of reformation. Investment capital can play an important role in revitalizing and innovating current practices.
  • You don’t have to be a big investor or a large organization to make an impact with your dollars – you can also start to look at your own investments. The Divest/Invest movement is one such example. This effort looks to engage a diverse range of investors and individuals in a global effort to reduce investment into fossil fuels. Through this and other efforts, you can make a pledge or take action towards refining your own investment footprint.

Whether your Earth Day commitment involves your time, your community’s energy, or your organization’s assets, there is a role for impact investing to be incorporated into your thinking about conservation, sustainability and preservation of the planet.


This article was originally published by the Case Foundation

Rehana Nathoo is Vice President of Social Innovation at the Case Foundation, focusing specifically on the Foundation’s efforts around Impact Investing. Rehana has worked in investment for around 7 years, specializing in the growing field of impact investing. She has previously worked with the Rockefeller Foundation and the UN. You can follow her on Twitter at @rehananathoo