Natural Investments enjoyed significant growth since the last report, with sustainable, responsible, impact (SRI) managed assets increasing by 24% to $650M. For the first time, we are using an impact data aggregation firm to delve deeper into our clients’ positive effects on the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) areas of the economy. The additional information allows us to see the bigger picture of our collective efforts, as well as understand trends in areas that are important to our clients. For example, one of the most frequent requests by clients is to avoid direct investments in extractive oil, coal, and natural gas companies, which are driving the climate crisis. In the last year, client demand for our fossil-fuel-free portfolios rose by 127%.
The newest category of our impact assessment is alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These are 17 targeted goals for 2015–2030 to improve life on the planet for all people. Though our sustainably managed holdings touch almost all of the goals in some way, the top five goals matched what our clients generally ask for—investments that cultivate thriving local communities with fair labor conditions and ecologically-viable corporate practice.
When evaluating the industries and types of assets we select for client investments, a significant portion (approximately 40%) is in responsibly managed mutual funds using ESG integration strategies. Applying environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria helps us screen out firms with the worst corporate behavior, an approach that minimizes poor performance risk, per numerous studies.
In addition to mutual funds, Natural Investments sources opportunities in municipal bonds, community investment notes, and other economic development tools that support resilient cities and rural communities. The funding targets areas for infrastructure improvement, affordable housing, clean energy, and small businesses. When regional economies thrive with stable capital flows, they build the backbone of a resilient US economy.