Earth Day‘s theme for 2023: INVEST in OUR PLANET. Linking business, finance, and investment to ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) goals and values will be critical to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV) surveyed 20,000 consumers, 2,500 executives in 22 industries and 34 countries about the relationship of climate-protection and financial success. Over 70% stated that a company’s ESG values influenced their choice of employment or investment. Morningstar, Russell Investments, S&P, and MSCI recently released ESG rating systems for 8,000 companies. Universities are evaluating endowments for sustainability; student and alumni organizations are mobilizing for climate action include Harvard’s HACE with a topic area of finance. MIT’s Sloan Impact Investing Initiative (Mi3) presented its first ESG and Impact Finance conference in 2023.
Tying social goals to investment may find precedence in Bretton Woods, the 1944 agreement that set up accords for an international monetary system and establishment of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) including the World Bank. During the World Bank presidency of Robert S. McNamara (1968-1981), increased emphasis on funding improvements in infrastructure, healthcare, and essentials including safe water, food security may, in some ways, have prepared the path to our present Sustainable Development Goals (SGD) There are many who might advise the World Bank to refocus on McNamara’s vision. To that end, should the SDGs be more strongly bonded to finance and investment initiatives? Looking to the ancients, could one find early models linking educational and social development to some of the advances initiated by Charlemagne? Another example might be the medieval guilds. What is the human timeline weaving social and economic progress to finance and investment?
But you don’t have to be a banker or finance professional to invest in our planet. Here are Earth Day’s recommendations for each of us to invest in our shared planet:
Plant Trees – Can you afford $1? That contribution will buy a tree, as part of The Canopy Project.
Reduce Plastic Consumption – Think twice before tossing plastic into trash: only 9% is recycled. Look for a recycling container. Even better – avoid plastic when possible. The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) has drafted INC-1, an international legally binding instrument, leading to the Global Plastics Treaty to be completed by 2024. Want to add your support?
Vote Earth – Vote for those who support environmental values. Register on the Vote Earth Hub to get reminders on voting options.
Choose Sustainable Fashion – Every day, you wear garments. It’s a global industry worth $2.4 trillion, but less than 1% of clothing is recycled, and textile processing accounts for 20% of global wastewater that can enter streams and aquifers. When you launder them, use a Cora Ball to catch fibers before they enter the water supply. Can clothing fabric be made from natural fibers beyond cotton and wool: for example, algae or seaweed? Look for and buy sustainable clothing. Sign the Fashion Petition here.
As you honor Earth Day today, did you ever wonder why is Earth Day celebrated on April 22? Founders Gaylord Nelson, Pete McCloskey, and Denis Hayes chose the date to engage students: it was after spring break and before final exams. Another factor: in some regions of the world, spring comes in April, reminding us of Earth’s systemic renewal. If we support Earth’s natural systems, we can sustain Earth’s natural power of renewal. The first Earth Day in 1970 drew 20 million people; by 1990, Earth Day went global and 200 million people participated. This year, how will you invest in our planet? Pledge your participation, here.
Bretton Woods Agreements Act. 31 July 1944. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/COMPS=10334/pdf/COMPS-10334.pdf
Earth Day. https://www.earthday.org
Harvard Alumni for Climate and the Environment (HACE). https://www.harvardclimate.com
Hayes, Adam. “MSCI ESG Ratings Definition, Methodology, Example.” 15 October 2022. Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/msci-esg-ratings-5111990
IBM Institute for Business Value. Authors Arun Biswas, Elisabeth Goos, and Jacob Dencik. “The ESG Conundrum.” 11 April 2023. https://www.ibm.com/thought-leadership/institute-business-value/report/esg-ultimatum
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) “Mi3.” https://sloangroups.mit.edu/sloanmi3/mit-sloan-esg-impact-finance-conference/
MSCI. “Capital for Climate Action Conference” 16 May 2023. https://www.msci.com/www/events/capital-for-climate-action/03723646558
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. “Gaylord Nelson, Founder of Earth Day.” University of Wisconsin – Madison, Wisconsin Historical Society. https://nelsonearthday.net/index.html
Segal, Mark. “Over 80% of Businesses Plan to Increase Spending on Environmental Sustainability Goals Over Next Year – Honeywell.” 19 April 2023. ESG Today. https://www.esgtoday.com/over-80-of-businesses-plan-to-increase-spending-on-environmental-sustainabiity-goals-over-next-year-honeywell/
Simbiótica Finance. https://simbiotica.finance/tokens/SOT
Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 U