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October 4, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – Numerous aspects of the issue of climate change and its effects on Earth have been discussed and analyzed in recent years. A presentation, sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB), focused on a unique but vital slant: how finance can be used as a tool in the fight against climate change.
Geeta Aiyer, CFA, founder and president of Boston Common Asset Management, spoke on “The Climate Finance Landscape – Mitigating the Impact of Climate Change” in the auditorium of Weber Center, before an audience of PAB members, Sisters, Associates, and Co-workers. Geeta has worked closely with the Congregation for about 20 years as an investment manager.
She began by setting her talk in context, noting the urgency of climate change, which can bring about “disruption of climate cycles” and severe weather, as well as “food scarcity, the extinction of species, and the displacement of populations.”
For many years, faith-based organizations have tried to persuade people to address climate change and to change from using fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar. Financial motivation also plays a role, Geeta said. “I firmly believe there is no sustainability without finance,” she said. “Hence, your role as the Portfolio Advisory Board remains central.”
During her talk, Geeta focused on how finance tools can be used as part of a strategy to persuade corporations such as energy companies to lessen the effects of climate change on our planet.
Geeta gave a mixed review of the effectiveness of one popular tool: divestment, selling off your stocks and having nothing to do with a fossil-fuel company, for example. Divestment is a “values statement that says you don’t want to participate in it.” However, she added, the stocks could then go to other owners who don’t care what effects the fossil-fuel companies are having on the environment. In addition, other companies besides fossil fuel corporations put carbon into the air through their operations.
Geeta pointed out that activist shareholders — those who want to make a difference to the environment or social justice through their investments — have a range of tools to persuade corporations to take the environment into account, from dialoguing with the companies to engaging in shareholder resolutions. The PAB, through its Corporate Responsibility arm, engages in those actions to bring about greater social justice and enhance the common good.
Geeta noted the powers of persuasion that shareholders have with the corporations that they invest in because the shareholders would want to make decisions that benefit the corporation as well as the world. As shareholders, “we have a very different voice,” she said. “We want [the corporations] to do well. …We’ll sit with them and talk with them in a voice that can be heard.”
Dialogues between activist shareholders and the companies in which they invest can take many forms, Geeta said. She emphasized the importance of working with fossil-fuel companies to begin to produce renewable energy, with other companies to reduce their use of carbon and to be more efficient, and with insurance companies and banks, who enable continual construction that can increase the use of fossil fuels.
Geeta expressed her own optimism that fossil fuel companies and other corporations will eventually act to make the environment more sustainable. “When we know people are watching, we change how we do things,” she said. For example, if fossil fuel companies realize that the demand for carbon-based energy has been reduced, they might supply more energy through renewable sources. Companies in every sector could become aware of opportunities to make a difference through more efficient use of energy or through technology that helps consumers to measure their own use of energy.
To hear more about this complex issue, watch the video of Geeta’s entire talk.
September 2, 2016 - A well-known asset management specialist will be the featured speaker in a presentation hosted by the Portfolio Advisory Board.
Geeta Aiyer, CFA, founder and President of Boston Common Asset Management, will talk about "The Climate Finance Landscape — Mitigating the Impact of Climate Change" at 1:15 pm. September 8 at the Weber Retreat and Conference Center.
Aiyer uses her extensive experience in finance to fuel leadership and innovation in the areas of environmental sustainability and social justice.
More details about Aiyer and the upcoming talk are available here.
August 25, 2016 - The Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB) is pleased to announce two new loan investments for August 2016.
Working Capital for Community Needs (WCCN) invests in community-based partners that help improve the lives of the working poor in Latin America through finance, service, education, training, employing or doing business them. WCCN currently operates in six countries: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Peru.
WCCN assists workers such as Fidelia Gama, an Ecuadorian coffee farmer.
photo by Michael Kienitz
The Adrian Dominican Sisters’ loan will be pooled with other funds and lent to microfinance institutions and democratically controlled cooperatives. These organizations provide credit to the poor in addition to other services such as health care, business training, empowerment and environmental education.
The Sisters are also investing in LiftFund, a nonprofit organization that has helped new and existing entrepreneurs grow their businesses by providing loans to those who do not have access to capital from typical lending sources. Along with vital business loans, LiftFund provides educational services that are essential to foster self-sufficiency.
LiftFund Client photo: Roxana Collazo, Firefly Dual Language Academy,
Over the past 22 years LiftFund has successfully fulfilled its mission by providing more than $210 million in over 17,400 loans to clients in 13 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
The Adrian Dominican Sisters’ loan will be pooled with other mission-minded investor funds and used as lending capital for small business owners. Loan capital provides LiftFund clients with opportunities to build their business, provide for their family, and make their community a better place.
Founded more than 40 years ago, the PAB was a response to the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ vision for social change. Firmly rooted in the tradition of Catholic social teachings, the PAB helps the Congregation to advocate for social justice in two ways. Through its Community Investments committee, the PAB offers low-interest loans to non-profit community organizations that benefit low-income people and underserved communities. The PAB Corporate Responsibility arm monitors the Congregation’s investments and engages in shareholder activities on matters of justice involving corporations in which the Congregation invests.
August 8, 2016, Detroit, Michigan – Many people might write off Detroit as a “lost cause” because of the well-known poverty and violence afflicting this town. However, Lura Mack and Kristine Cooper, director and executive assistant, respectively, of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB), spent a day visiting a variety of organizations that have made a difference for the individuals and communities in this troubled city.
For more than 40 years, the PAB has helped the Adrian Congregation to use its financial assets to further the values of the Gospel in the economic realm, through the wings of corporate responsibility and community investment. During a recent tour of Detroit hosted by IFF Detroit. The PAB has granted low-interest loans to IFF Detroit for its work, in turn, in lending to organizations that “create opportunities for low-income communities and people with disabilities.”
During the tour, Lura and Kris visited three organizations that have received low-interest loans from IFF Detroit:
“The trip reminded me of the ‘bus trips’ the Adrian Dominican Sisters used to provide when they first began doing this work as a way to educate the members about where their dollars were being invested in the community,” Lura said. “What a great experience and inspiration to see first-hand how the investment dollars are being used to benefit these organizations as they provide creative opportunities and hope to individuals.”
June 15, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – The Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB) of the Adrian Dominican Sisters is sending out low-interest loans to four community service organizations. The loans – sent to organizations from Oklahoma and California to Maryland and South Carolina – were recommended by the PAB and approved by the Congregation’s General Council. The funds are scheduled to be sent out on June 15 to:
Founded more than 40 years ago, the PAB was a response to the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ vision for social change. Firmly rooted in the tradition of Catholic social teachings, the PAB helps the Congregation to advocate for social justice in two ways. Through Community Investments work, the PAB offers low-interest loans to non-profit community organizations that benefit low-income people and underserved communities. The PAB Corporate Responsibility arm monitors the Congregation’s investments and engages in shareholder activities on matters of justice involving corporations in which the Congregation invests.
Feature photo: Members of the St. Ambrose community get ready to volunteer for YouthWorks.
On July 20, 2016, a Dow shareholder meeting was called for members to vote on the company’s merger with DuPont. The Adrian Dominican Sisters — shareholders who also represent shareholders from Pesticide Action Network, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, and Trillium Asset Management — attempted to present their concerns about the risks and impact of the merger. However, the meeting was tightly controlled and no one other than the CEO and the Corporate Secretary were permitted to speak.
Read more in this PAN press release, which also includes comments from Margaret Weber, member of the Portfolio Advisory Board for the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Portfolio Advisory Board, Adrian Dominican Sisters | 1257 E. Siena Heights Drive | Adrian, Michigan 49221
Phone: (517) 266-3523 | Email: