Sustainable investing: the art of long-term performanceMarch 2009
Cary Krosinsky & Nick Robins (Eds). Hardback. 272 pages. Earthscan. £19.99
Although it was largely written before the recent market turmoil, this is a most useful book, summarizing socially responsible investment from its earliest beginnings to the latest state of the art. Including contributions from a wide range of practitioners, it examines the boundaries of SRI and addresses the issues that non-equity asset classes present, including responsible investment in bonds and property .
It’s dominant emphasis, however, is on the environment. Indeed the central thesis of the editors is that ethical investing, which has historically operated by excluding companies based on social value judgements, should be distinguished from ‘sustainable investing’ – which involves investment in companies that are producing solutions to the environmental crisis.
Perhaps the most interesting contribution is Krosinksy’s account of research which shows that while ethical investing seems to underperform the market, ‘sustainable investing’ appears to consistently outperform it.
The book also describes the challenges coming from the rise of the Chinese and Indian economies – something that serves to emphasize the scale of the need for investment in clean technologies.
As Tessa Tennant puts it in her contribution, ‘we have only one planet and the mission of SRI must surely be to drive investment towards the technology, infrastructure, cultural and corporate shifts required to achieve one planet living.’