Report from The 29th Annual SRI Conference

November 5, 2018

The 29th Annual SRI Conference took place this past November 1-4. Each year, The SRI Conference draws hundreds of participants from across the world, estimated to have influence over more than an $5 trillion in assets. The conference also counts many of the key thought leaders in this space among its speakers, moderators, and panelists including:

Jeremy Grantham, the ever-intriguing co-founder and chief investment strategist of Grantham, Mayo, & van Otterloo delivered the conference opening plenary: The Race of Our Lives.” Mr. Grantham discussed the real and present threat posed by climate change, and urged the audience to consider how they can even further reduce their own carbon footprint to stave off climate change.

Kurt Summers, Chicago’s City Treasurer inspired the audience as he shared how the city is working to address local and global sustainability challenge by restructuring its investment portfolio to help spur local economic development and make an impact on climate change, diversity, human rights, and other global issues.

Chad Meyers, CNN’s chief meteorologist discussed how personally standing on sinking lands in Miami Beach changed him from a climate-change skeptic to believer, and he also shared some eye-opening data supporting climate change.

Phil Weiser, candidate for Colorado attorney general and the Hatfield Professor of Law at the University of Colorado Law School, shared his thoughts on how state’s attorneys general can use their offices to advance sustainability both within their own states, and serve as a model for other states to do the same.

Dan Esty, Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy, Yale Law School – Dan presented a more optimistic and hopeful presentation on the power of the private sector to solve pressing global challenges. Including big data shining a light the real costs of not being sustainable.

Michelle Edkins, global head of BlackRock’s investment stewardship team shared her team’s successes, challenges, and lessons learned as a leading voice in shareowner advocacy. As a significant shareowner in many publicly-traded companies, BlackRock is using its considerable voting power to put forward sustainable initiatives and engage with companies directly to drive improved corporate behavior.

Conference participants also got an early readout of the US SIF’s 2018 Report on U.S. Sustainable, Responsible, and Impact Trends. The report reveals that as of the beginning of 2018, sustainable, responsible and impact investments grew from $7.6 trillion in 2016 to nearly $12 trillion – a 38% increase over 2016.

The Trends Report—first compiled in 1995—is the most comprehensive study of sustainable and impact investing in the United States. From the first report when assets totaled just $639 billion to today, the sustainable and responsible investing industry has grown 18-fold and has matured and expanded across numerous asset classes.

Participants also got a “sneak peek” at Folio Financials’ cutting-edge SRI-centric digital wealth services platform, as well as the SRI Consensus. SRI Consensus is a revolutionary new crowd-sourcing app that holds the potential to exponentially increase the flow of capital to address the most pressing societal and environmental challenges.

Among other compelling breakout sessions, two high-profile local sustainability officers, Ryan Trujillo, chief sustainability officer for the city of Colorado Springs, and Jerry Tinianow, chief sustainability officer for the city of Denver made special appearances. Both outlined some of the remarkably innovative strategies they are using to advance sustainability in their cities, and how they are working with their peers across the country to exponentially expand their influence.

The 30th Annual SRI Conference

Next year will be the 30th Annual SRI Conference! That’s thirty years at the forefront of sustainable, responsible, and impact investing and we’ll be celebrating all who have made the conference what it is today. Join us for another year of great sessions, great speakers, and great social events, plus special anniversary surprises.

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