The SRI Conference Popcorn Presentation

arina-sric-popcorn-presentationSRI Conference Popcorn Presentation
By Arina Abbott

In past Popcorn Presentations, many of you heard our CIO Garvin Jabusch speak about Green Alpha Advisors, but we thought we’d try something a little different this year. I’m Arina, the newest addition to the Green Alpha team. I’d like to briefly share with you how I found myself at Green Alpha, and hopefully give you all a sense of what compelling ideas drive our work day-to-day.

I’ll start by taking a small step back in time – I graduated from Colorado College with a degree in International Political Economy – a major that enabled me to tackle complex, global, systemic issues. But I found that political paths to solving these problems was absolutely debilitated by partisan boundaries. Our own political system continues to be ferociously divided–especially when it comes to environmental and social issues–and this regularly leads to political stalemate. So, by the time I was a junior in college, I was feeling pretty cynical about whether or not I could make a meaningful impact after graduating. Seems pretty young to be so jaded right?

In walks Green Alpha. After I heard Garvin and Betsy Moszeter, our COO, speak at a Colorado College divestment rally, I felt refreshed. I had had expected them to deliver the moral argument behind divesting from fossil fuels – like “think of your children and grandchildren” – an argument that is certainly valid, but easily distanced in people’s minds.

Instead, they hooked the audience with their strong economic and financial arguments behind fossil fuel free investment.

They laid out their economic thesis logically, and what I understood was this:

As the negative impacts of systemic risks like climate change and resource scarcity continue to materialize in the form of droughts, severe storms, biodiversity loss — businesses, consumers, and markets will inevitably be forced to respond because, in some shape or form, it will affect their bottom line. That’s something we won’t be able to ignore, regardless of our political affiliations.

Companies that choose not to ignore this – that understand that sustainability is both an opportunity to improve efficiency and a necessary piece of mitigating risk – will be the economic winners in the long term. The businesses and investors that recognize these opportunities and risks today and innovate in response to these trends today are not only driving the transition to a low-carbon economy, but they also stand to profit handsomely for having been ahead of the curve. Meanwhile, the companies that continue business as usual will suffer. This economy based on innovation-driven solutions is what Green Alpha calls the Next Economy, and forms the basis for Green Alpha’s investment strategy.

What this economic perspective and investment approach spells out to me is: opportunity. While I know I’m just one data point, there are so many others like me who are looking to drive meaningful impact in their lives beyond the voting booth on election. We now know that female investors are nearly 2x more likely than their male counterparts to consider both rate of return and positive impact when evaluating investments; millennials are about 2x more likely than the average individual investor to invest in companies that target specific social or environmental outcomes.

Every day when I come to Green Alpha, I’m excited that we’ll be able to meet this growing opportunity. I feel empowered knowing that our political system is only one piece of the bigger impact puzzle, and that rigorous, solutions-focused, Next Economy investing is another essential piece of that puzzle.


Important Disclosures