Richard Woo of the Russell Family Foundation says what’s more important than divestment from fossil fuels is investing those dollars into the development of sustainable alternatives.
Much of the fossil-fuel divestment debate has centered around whether the act of divesting can have a truely positive impact, while the “invest” part of the divest-invest movement tends not to garner the same attention. Richard Woo, CEO of the Russell Family Foundation, explains how the foundation recently invested in Ecotrust Forest Management, a forestland investment management company, as part of their strategy in mission investing after divesting their portfolio’s holdings in coal. Ecotrust CEO Bettina von Hagen explains how mission investing is a more active approach to addressing the climate change problem than divestment alone because “you’re not only just going from a strategy that’s producing more greenhouse gasses to neutral, you’re actually going to a strategy that’s storing greenhouse gasses.”
The foundation actually expects more financial value and competitive returns because, as Woo explains:
“When you invest in the long term and when you take in to account a lot of the additional criteria beyond financial, but include community, include economic development for the long-term, include environmental impact, you’re actually producing more sustainable investments over time that are going to bring more benefits to a greater number of people. So we actually think that this is a smarter investment.
I think investing is an act of faith. You’re putting your money and you’re putting your capital, whether it’s social or human, into something you believe in. And when you do that, then I think you’re actually investing in your future.”