Category: Sustainable Investing

Catching up with the Sustainable Investing Project

A few weeks ago, we finally posted information about this amazing ongoing project at the heart of SC’s Carbon campaign: SIP. Do you also wonder what these letters stand for, what the team members do and what they have achieved so far? We’ve got all these answers for you today!

 

What is SIP?
SIP is a project taken on by a small team (some of them in the picture above!) within Sustainable Concordia, to do research and create a Sustainable Investment Project (SIP) Guide. The project, currently bottom-lined by our Finance coordinator, Mauricio Buschinelli, was started in the summer.

 

Why is SIP needed in the community?
Here you can indeed wonder, what does investing have to do with me? Except if you’re keen on stock markets, it can be difficult to relate the dark finance sphere to your daily life.

Well, being one of the not-so-sure-what-finance-is-all-about group, I asked Mauricio how it all started and why it would be needed. The answer was to actually make it accessible and understandable to a wider crowd – to folks like me (and maybe like you too!).
He explained that in the context of the university being pressured to divest (to take its money out the fossil fuel or other unethical and unsustainable industries), research around sustainable investment and tools became increasingly necessary as “we realized that a lot of people who are involved and very passionate about it have been lacking the financial argument to take the conversation to the next level.”  In the divest discussions “people who have been involved were not sure what to bring up to counter this [pro-fossil fuel investment] argument,” when facing the administration or investors in committees for instance. “So we thought maybe we create a more widespread understanding of sustainable investing and how to divest, then everybody could argue against unsustainable investing and it becomes something that’s not just elitist,” he added.

 

What will it do?
Mauricio summarized that the project thus aims “to create that research, to give these arguments to talk at this level but also to demystify and diffuse this information in the community so that everyone feels comfortable engaging in these conversations.”

The coordinator emphasized that organizations’ (and individuals’) voices mattered as “in addition to the divestment argument, if we can foster a culture of sustainable investing in the social and solidarity economy sector, we can actually influence the financial sector as a whole by saying: ‘I’m only willing to invest if you publish timely and reliable information on your environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices.’” Thus educating and implementing this culture will give the tools to demand change and start a shift in various sectors.

SIP aims to offer tools to talk about investing in our future – but is that it?
It is also about actually doing it!
The project, although started at the Z annex, will be a collaboration: it targets social and solidarity economy organizations, and requires their input in the project. Mauricio explained that “we are only one organization, and we can’t create a guide for all organizations,” as each has different needs and resources. However, all together, we can start mapping different investing possibilities!

 

How, though?
The project is so far broken down into five chapters. The first two are Finance 101 and what is sustainable investing: a workshop will be developed to introduce our community to the topics. The third chapter starts getting deeper in the process, as it tackles how an organization can have this discussion with its board of directors. After that, Mauricio explained, “the last two chapters are more about how you actually do it, once you’ve decided what you want to invest in and what you don’t want, this is what you do to actually invest.”

 

What are the challenges faced when researching sustainable investing?
The small team has gone far already, as they recently closed the first chapter and are now planning a launch event. Mauricio however made it clear that it had been a lot of work, as “sustainable investing is an emerging topic, there is no industry standard.” Besides, even at Concordia with it’s John Molson School of Business, it is difficult to find mentors or information in the field: Mauricio pointed out that “Concordia only has one professor that focuses on sustainable investing, and there are databases that focus on information relevant to sustainable investing but concordia doesn’t currently pay for them. So right now, if one wants to look at information regarding sustainable investing, they have to go to databases that have very limited information.” And if that was not complicated enough, sustainable investing has plenty of meanings which, according to the finance coordinator “depend on your own values, and the definition that you give it […] there is an array of opinions on what it is and what it is not. Currently, no one can claim to know exactly what sustainable investing is. And we think that’s important to understand!”

The project is moving fast and is very promising – stay tuned for our bi-weekly updates and learn more here!

 

 

  • Pauline Soumet, Communications and Design Coordinator