Where do we look for growth in the future?
In times characterised by uncertainty and conflict, people have placed increasing belief in socially responsible investment. This confidence has so far been rewarded. Can SRI provide an investment style adequate to the complexities of an increasingly global society? If so, where do we look in 2002 for sustainable growth?
The World Summit on Sustainable Development taking place in Johannesburg in September 2002 provides valuable direction. World leaders of government, business and civil society groups have placed sustainable development as a priority on an international agenda. Increasing global demand for sustainability solutions gives us the confidence to seek growth in companies and industry sectors that can meet these needs. We see healthcare, education, renewable energy and environmentally sound technologies as industries of the future and look for companies that are responding early to the market for sustainability. For example, air pollution is addressed by companies that promote cleaner more efficient use of fuel such as Westport, developer of cleaner, more fuel efficient diesel engines. Urban domestic and industrial waste can be managed by advanced recycling technology provided by companies such as Tomra, pioneer of the reverse vending machine. Improving water management provides another opportunity for companies. Examples include providing alternatives to chlorine use through the ultraviolet purification process pioneered by Vedeco or mircro-filtration offered by Zenon. Tanberg, offering video conferencing addresses security concerns and, by reducing lengthy travel time promotes a healthier work life balance.
As global society increasingly understands social and environmental health as a foundation of economic prosperity, progressive companies respond with a new generation of products and services that can satisfy these requirements. The contradiction between social responsibility and profitability dissipates. Our means to growth remain clear. As Clare Brook, director of SRI at Morley puts it: “The thing our team agrees on unequivocally are our aims, which are to arrest environmental degradation and promote social justice while producing top performing funds. ”