Business and Society

Sustainability allows investors to do a better long-term investment job

January 6, 2012 | 1 min read

Sustainability should be mainstream, but for most investors it is still way down the list of priorities. The question is whether to leave it there or to advance it to a special item. The time horizon is a major challenge: investors are more comfortable setting benchmarks at three or twelve months; sustainability has a much longer horizon. A strategy must be developed that “simultaneously is fit for today’s time and fit for purpose to adapt to a transforming economy.”

Pension funds are aggravated by their current circumstances; many are underfunded and the situation is viewed as urgent. They may acknowledge the importance of sustainability, but it is difficult to persuade them to address it now. There are suspicions that the collateral benefits may detract from the true purpose of the fund, which is to make profit. “The benefits of sustainability are not the primary purpose; the primary purpose is to do a better long-term investment job.”


This video interview was recorded in New York City on 13 December 2011 during the ESG USA 2011 Conference “Investing for a Sustainable Economy,” organized by the Responsible Investor in association with Bloomberg.

This article may be reproduced according to our terms of use with attribution (and link, if online) to To be cited as: “Sustainability not yet mainstream”, Roger Urwin,, January 6, 2012.

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