Essays on sustainable development a global challenge

These various products are designed to appeal to different sorts of investors. Responsible Investors are looking for products which fit into their portfolios, and can be benchmarked for financial return against peer groups with less social impact. These investors face the challenge of finding investable products that aggregate enough deals to absorb institutional scale capital. They often depend on third parties -- public or civil society -- to work with them on designing investable deals, either through community engagement or financial support of one sort or another. Successful products have typically come in the form of conventional investment products, with support from collateral organizations ensuring the delivery of public benefit. For Impact Investors, the need is for a robust infrastructure that can source deals in hard to work places, or provide capital to mitigate risk or enter new spaces for investment. Across the range of investments, urban areas and sustainability have been a focus.

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Finally, venture capital and fixed income funds have supported innovative small business development around environmentally sustainable goods and services.

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Impact Investors focus on investments that make financial sense, and have intended, specified, tangible social and/or environmental benefits. They are often associated with innovative investments meant to catalyze other private and public sector capital, or with taking risks and accepting reduced returns in exchange with outsized social impact--for instance by creating investment vehicles that serve low income areas or that support innovative energy efficiency investments. They may join organizations such as the Global Impact Investing Network, which focus on regions and sectors of interest to multiple investors.The archetypal Impact Investor is a foundation or high-net worth individual focused on creating social impact through market tools. For these investors, sustainable cities offer:As for Responsible Investors, the idea of a sustainable city – a metropolitan region whose design and culture favor sustainable energy use and living patterns – increases the benefits for Impact Investors of each of these factors, by capturing the benefits of individual investments and creating mutually beneficial and reinforcing deployments of capital.Responsible Investment and Impact Investment have both received substantial attention and growth in recent years, catalyzing products for all sorts of investors that have carbon mitigation, urban resiliency, or sustainable land management built into their business rationale.For instance, the World Bank, the IFC, the European Investment Bank, and others have developed a class of "green bonds" meant to appeal to institutional and retail investors who look for relatively straightforward investment products that serve these sustainability goals. These bonds help finance, among other things, urban infrastructure projects tied to carbon mitigation efforts. The Climate Bonds group is working on standards to ensure that green bonds fulfill their environmental promise, and in the process provide readily accessible products for investors and bond issuers alike. Other examples include real estate funds that target transit-oriented development or energy efficient buildings. Efforts have been made by large real estate fund managers to green their existing building portfolios. Green building guidelines such as the LEED program of the US Green Building Council, the BREEAM ratings in Britain, or Green Star in Australia have all helped set standards for energy efficient buildings. Specialized funds have developed to help green affordable and workforce housing units, or to revitalize brownfield sites in cities and reduce sprawl, or to build or refurbish mixed-use, mixed-income buildings in proximity to transit.Finally, venture capital and fixed income funds have supported innovative small business development around environmentally sustainable goods and services.These various products are designed to appeal to different sorts of investors. Responsible Investors are looking for products which fit into their portfolios, and can be benchmarked for financial return against peer groups with less social impact. These investors face the challenge of finding investable products that aggregate enough deals to absorb institutional scale capital. They often depend on third parties -- public or civil society -- to work with them on designing investable deals, either through community engagement or financial support of one sort or another. Successful products have typically come in the form of conventional investment products, with support from collateral organizations ensuring the delivery of public benefit. For Impact Investors, the need is for a robust infrastructure that can source deals in hard to work places, or provide capital to mitigate risk or enter new spaces for investment. Across the range of investments, urban areas and sustainability have been a focus.But the products themselves rarely are designed to support sustainable cities, understood holistically. Instead, they focus on projects, deal aggregation, and fund development that contribute to sustainable goals within an urban setting. How can we take this interest in sustainable investment products, and turn it into support for sustainable cities themselves?For private investment to fully participate in making cities sustainable, investment products, public policies, and civic support need to be created around efforts that combine an interest in sustainability, the importance of cities, and the multiple potential sources of capital. This will be most effective where the models of urban places and metropolitan regions are developed that link investment to broader sustainability goals. Otherwise, the benefits of sustainable projects -- one-off sustainable investments -- cannot capitalize on the long-term benefits and innovative potential of truly sustainable communities.To make a city investable, then, it requires the coordination of projects, funds, investors, policy makers, and civil society organizations, around a common goal against which specific types of investments can be measured. Investors differ in their needs and capacity, and so multiple forms of private capital will be necessary to support sustainable cities. Just as importantly, a framework that coordinates these sources of capital, helps build pipeline opportunities, and creates mechanisms to hold investors accountable for superior social and environmental performance, is fundamental to creating a sustainable investment platform. In other words, some set of stakeholders must create a vision for a sustainable city that both encourages and holds investment to account.Examples of sustainable city policies abound, but examples of sustainable city policies designed to catalyze private investment are harder to come by. Four examples can help illustrate what might be necessary to make sustainable cities investable. First, the JESSICA program, a program of the European Investment Bank, encourages the creation of metropolitan-based investment funds that catalyze private investment by creating investment policies that use public money to catalyze longer term time horizons, and coordinate multiple sources of investment from public and private sources. In theory, the JESSICA program will help make investment in sustainable urban areas more attractive, and the place-based nature of the fund offers the potential for coordinating investment against a broader vision for a sustainable city.In the United States, Living Cities, a consortium of the country's largest charitable foundations, has begun efforts to integrate public policy and private investment towards share goals for urban regeneration. In a difficult investment climate generally, and in places in need of investments like Detroit, Cleveland, or Baltimore, Living Cities is working to integrate urban regeneration strategies so that multiple stakeholders have a share goal against which the value of specific deals can be measured. Not every deal needs to deliver the same social and environmental benefits, but together the deals are meant to create capacity, in cities as a whole, to receive sustainable investment.">14

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An impressive and growing literature on sustainable cities has focused on the need for new commitments to sustainable urban planning, investment, civic engagement, and national and international coordination in support of sustainable cities. International groups like the C40 Climate Leaders Group -- supported by the Clinton Climate Initiative, or ICLEI -- Local Governments for Sustainability, bring together municipal leaders with public, private, and non-profit organizations to highlight and share best practices and toolkits. Climate change networks that engage the private sector -- groups like Ceres and its Investor Network on Climate Risk; or the Climate Group -- have similarly worked on specifically urban issues in relation their broad goals of guiding private sector activity towards more sustainable practices.The role of private investment in sustainable cities has received specific attention, with advocates from all sectors searching for ways to mobilize private capital towards more efficient, resilient, and productive cities. Discussions often center on how to engage private investors, what products they might use to invest in sustainable cities, and what public policies will most successfully catalyze private investment.Investing in sustainable cities is more a topic of discussion than an investment discipline as of yet. Investors might look for sustainable projects such as wind energy production, or green building development, or transit lines and smart growth real estate – but these are not necessarily linked to cities themselves.But there are a number of reasons to think that investors might take up sustainable cities themselves as a topic. I will focus here on the growth of two types of investors who may come to play an important part in this movement – to simplify, I'll call them Responsible Investors and Impact Investors, though in reality there is substantial overlap in who they are.The archetypal Responsible Investor is a large institutional investor – say a pension or sovereign wealth fund – with theoretically long term time horizons and a class of beneficiaries (pensioners, or citizens) who would reap gains from increases in the public good as well as financial returns to the fund.">6 Sustainability has become an important theme for these investors, on the belief that over the long term investments with superior environmental (and social) benefits will potentially outperform, by reducing risks from political, cultural, and economic change, and capturing the benefits of forward-looking economic devleopment. They may have signed onto the UN Principles of Responsible Investment, whose preamble notes that "these Principles may better align investors with broader objectives of society." Many need to invest very large sums of money.

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Rosalyn McKeown’s Education for Sustainable Development Toolkit is based on the notion that success depends on a community’s willingness and ability to integrate education with sustainable efforts....

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Rapid urbanization in the world's developing economies is a leading social and environmental macrotrend which raises the importance of developing sustainable urban forms amid substantial disparities in wealth and access to opportunity. Already, urban environments across the world both direct and constrain our capacity to respond to issues of resource consumption, carbon emissions, and, more expansively, sustainable human and economic development.