Investors & Risk Assessors

Excerpts from Green to Gold (p. 90-96)

Employees fit every category, from watchdog to community member, but we place them here for their role as investors of their time and skills in the companies they work for. Competition for talent is getting ever more fierce, which means any edge that makes an employer more desirable is worth pursuing...what employees need from a workplace is shifting dramatically...Companies want committed employees, and employees want companies they can commit to.

More and more people are investing through vehicles that screen companies for social or environmental responsibility. These investments fall under the category of socially responsible investing. According to the nonprofit Social Investment Forum, over $2 trillion in assets are screened in some way...In 2002, a group of institutional investors, including ABN AMRO and Merrill Lynch, launched the Carbon Disclosure Project, which [asked] the world's 500 biggest companies to document their emissions so investors could gauge climate change-related risk.

Insurers don't mind risk, but they hate uncertainty...Reinsurers have gotten very vocal about environmental issues in general and about climate change in particular...Munich Re and Swiss Re have good reason to worry. The total cost of natural disasters has risen rapidly in recent years. The 1990s saw more economic losses than the previous four decades combined.

Over the last few years, banks have been waking up to the fact that the environmental and social risks on projects they lend money to, while hard to quantify, can be very damaging to their business...we can thank some tenacious NGOs for making that connection clearer to international financiers...Influence those who hold the purse strings, and you don't need to force change directly on the companies creating the problems."