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Sustainable Impacting Investing: Investing in Tomorrow, Today

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“Committing to growth and sustainability is our impact, and impact requires investment”

As young professionals embark on the career phase of their lives – decades of earning, it is fundamentally important that the prioritization of investment is paramount in their personal budgeting process. With technology and innovation moving at such a rapid pace, the opportunity to be on the cutting-edge of impact investment yielding higher than average returns is now. It was once said that success is not measured by the amount of money you make but by the lives you impact – the mantra that must begin to drive our collective business purpose along with our humanitarian conscience. As we move forward in this UN-declared Decade of Action, we are beginning to recognize that fiscal responsibly will be attained by infusing sustainability into our personal responsibility. Committing to growth and sustainability is our impact, and impact requires investment.

‘Impact’ is one of the most overused words of current times, however, when pertaining to actions which make a positive difference to people, society, or the planet, the thesaurus is noticeably devoid of meaningful options. Where profitability was once the primary designation of a successful business, now, in this age of sustainability and with the understanding that we have a collective responsibility to the future, our success is determined by the footprint we leave and the difference we make. We all bear a degree of culpability towards the planetary turmoil we are facing, and, moving forward, ‘responsibility’ must become the nucleus of our individual choices, behaviors, and investment, and will be the foundation upon which the future will be shaped. But this responsibly also brings possibility, and the largest returns on our impact investments come when we merge the two.

Impact investing seeks to affect change on the ecosystem of life, unleashing the power of capital for global good. As governments, markets and consumers begin to embrace their responsibility to sustainability, impact investments are seeing accelerated returns as a result. Rishabh Chokhani, CEO of Naturevibe Botanicals, noted that today’s consumers want to buy a more responsible lifestyle, rather than just a product. Consumers are recognizing that our long-term survival, living on a healthy and vibrant planet, depends on the responsible choices we make today. This is also true of the impact investment market, and this demand for responsible innovation by consumers, allows increasingly forward-thinking and innovative options for unconventional, diverse, and viable investments, and a stronger, more diverse portfolio.

Early-stage tech, energy, and environmental solution companies are a good launchpad for the new impact investor. These ‘ethical’ investments, allowing for both equity or debt, can be an extraordinary opportunity for a seasoned businessperson investing in a start-up to share their expertise and management approaches, providing financial value as well as leadership guidance in return for their equity share. Growth and prosperity will increasingly come from unity, supporting the evidenced concept that we are stronger together. Now more than ever, how we invest our money will play a significant and determining role in the future viability or failure of our planet. And… the future depends on the decisions we make now. Our investment decisions must reflect our acknowledgment that we are all stakeholders of the planet – good and bad, and impact investment MUST become a mandatory ingredient in both our business and personal portfolios.

“The effects of climate change will be irreversible by 2030. Let that sink in. We have less than ten years to reverse the catastrophic and irreversible damage being done to our planet”

“Investment in sustainability is the vehicle that will allow us to positively influence the mandates thrust on us by prior decades of damage”

Why is it essential for us to prioritize impact, and pursue investment to achieve that impact? The effects of climate change will be irreversible by 2030. Let that sink in. We have less than ten years to reverse the catastrophic and irreversible damage being done to our planet. If you want your great-grandchildren to have the opportunity to ski on a mountain still covered in snow – if you want them to swim in safe, clean oceans and have clean water to drink and food to eat – if you yourself want unpolluted air to breath, then we have the ethical obligation to impact-invest in our future. Earth Day USA regards this as the beginning of the last crucial decade of humankind. Scary? It certainly is. Our global reality is shocking, and too often, we stick our heads in the sand, thinking, “it won’t happen during my lifetime”, and we leave the solutions to the future generations. But consider this – the 20 warmest years on record have occurred in the last 22 years. The percentage of carbon dioxide in the air is the highest it’s been in 3 million years. Eleven percent of the greenhouse gas emissions are caused by our accelerated deforestation. Half of all amphibians are at risk of extinction due to climate change, with scientists estimating that a dozen species of plants and animals go extinct each day because of effects related to climate change. Much of the world is facing extreme weather shifts – floods, earthquakes, superstorms, excessive heatwaves – all due to climate change. While we have a very narrow window of time left to be able to reverse the negative trajectory of our planet, if we prioritize impact investing, we will be able to create a viable and sustainable environment for future generations. Most nations recognize the value in signing global compacts. We understand the need for technologies and innovations which will optimize our work leaving less of an environmental footprint. We can develop precision agriculture techniques which will allow us to ensure food and water security. But we cannot achieve any of these imperatives without capital investment – investing in the products, concepts, innovations, and technologies which will allow us to charge boldly towards a sustainable and durable future. This responsibility to sustainability allows us to diversify and accelerate our personal portfolios, having the opportunity to choose interesting, forward-looking, and transformational technologies, products, and solutions, giving our investments the opportunity to grow at unprecedented rates of return.

Financial return and sustainability must go hand in hand, with sustainability taking the lead. We have a very short and prescribed time to make an impact which can save our future. Sustainable impact is the most significant responsibility facing humankind since the dawn of man. Investment in sustainability is the vehicle that will allow us to positively influence the mandates thrust on us by prior decades of damage. We are the authors of our story, and we decide whether that story goes on, or ends. In this Decade of Action, the next chapter is up to us.

Larisa Miller is CEO of Phoenix Global, an award-winning global boutique consulting and investment firm based in Miami. With over two decades of experience working with heads of governments and business leaders in the US and across the globe, Larisa has the exceptional talent of developing mutually beneficial partnerships spanning cultures, countries, and industries. She started her career working for the Secretary of Agriculture in the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and went on to work in the office of public policy with the Governor of Pennsylvania. Larisa later worked with the Royal Family in Abu Dhabi, UAE, as their business development manager, with a focus on sustainable development, and also as head of their large non-profit foundation, which focused on women, youth, literacy and education. Larisa is an award-winning keynote speaker, and sits on several global boards. She is also Managing Partner of Akon Global, developing and facilitating Smart Cities, affordable housing and technology investments with Akon, multi-Grammy award nominated recording star, businessman, philanthropist and change-maker.

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