Al Gore welcomed back to Mistra
The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, former vice-president of USA and Chairman of Generation Investment Management, Mr Al Gore visited Sweden on January 29. Mistra, Generation’s first institutional investor, hosted an informal meeting between Mr Gore and Swedish investors and foundations to discuss the climate challenges ahead.
Mr Gore started off by stating that the climate emergency was intensifying “way faster” than people realise and that the political willingness to address the issue globally is weak. However, the rapid transition of the energy sector towards renewables and the finance industry’s increased awareness offer promise of positive change.
In the discussion that followed, divestment was raised as an obvious risk management strategy to avoid stranded assets in some cases. Whereas engagement to encourage change from within can be justified in other cases. Other issues highlighted were the need for putting a price on carbon and valuing externalities. Discussions were engaged, and the participants clearly inspired. “What more can we do?” was a question asked among the high-level participants.
The meeting was held at Mistra’s office in Stockholm and gathered about thirty institutional investors, including major Swedish private and public foundations, pension funds and private capital investment organisations along with the Swedish Minister for Financial Markets Per Bolund. In an intervention, Mr Bolund thanked Mr Gore for his pioneering efforts to mobilise the financial sector to tackle the climate crisis.
After welcoming remarks from Johan Söderström, chairman of the Mistra board, Märtha Josefsson, chair of the Mistra asset management committee gave a background to Mistra’s early investment in the Generation Global Equity fund.
‘More than 15 years ago Mistra decided that our investment principles should be in line with the overall strategy for our foundation, we wanted to walk the talk through having a sustainability investment approach but with the condition not to compromise with the return’, Josefsson began.
‘One of the asset managers that came to us 2005 was Generation Investment Management. They had started to build a really trustworthy investment organization and their philosophy was to integrate financial analyses with sustainability analyses. They intended to launch a global fund and they were seeking institutional money. We found them to be a perfect match and Mistra became the first institutional investor in this fund.’
‘Generation has really proven that a sustainability investment approach is adding value, both when it comes to return as well as the financial industry’s focus on climate change’, Märtha Josefsson concluded.
‘We at Mistra are very grateful for our close collaboration with Generation Investment Management and the opportunity to host this important meeting’, says Åsa Moberg, programmes director with responsibility for sustainability dialogues with asset managers. ‘Mr Gore inspires us all to rise to the occasion at this crucial moment in history. This encourages and supports investors and asset managers who are on the front line acting to drive sustainable finance. Also, importantly, the meeting with Mr Gore stressed the need for mainstreaming. Climate issues should now be an integrated part of all investors’ risk management strategy, and also offers to serve as guidance to new investment opportunities.’
Generation Investment Management was founded in 2004 by Al Gore and David Blood. Mistra was its first institutional client. By this investment Mistra made a practical contribution to spreading the message that good returns can go hand in hand with long-term perspectives and sustainability.