Jesuits support sustainable investing

Jesuits in Britain have recently signed up to two initiatives by the Sustainable Funds Group of Stewart Investors which aim to contribute to the sustainable development of the countries in which they operate.

Br Stephen Power SJ, Treasurer of the Jesuits in Britain, says: “The Jesuits in Britain are concerned that we address ethical issues connected with the companies and industries in which we invest. Through like-minded networks, such as the Church Investors Group and ShareAction, we advocate on a number of issues, perhaps the chief of which is climate change. Two particular concerns that Stewart Investors have taken up are those of the environmental pollution from the vast discard of plastics and the concern for poor people accessing insurance to cover some of their basic needs. We have signed up to support their lobbying of the relevant companies, including banks.”

The initiatives are in line with the second and third new Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus: walking with the excluded and caring for our common home.

The first approved proposal regards micro-insurance. The Jesuits in Britain have joined 34 investors who have so far supported this initiative, encouraging organizations to develop a position and a plan for best practice around the provision of micro-insurance. This type of investment can create an affordable, accessible safety net which enables people to climb out of poverty. The funding would be tailored for those who are in greatest need and, at the same time, the least well served by today’s public institutions.

The second initiative addresses the issue of plastic pellet loss throughout supply chains. In 2018, Stewart Investors wrote to 41 companies involved either in the manufacture, distribution or consumption of plastic pellets to ask for their commitment to zero pellet loss. This agreement would require collaborative work to develop adequate tools, setting systematic assessments and publishing annual progress reports. The majority of the companies acknowledged the investors’ letter, which has been followed by regular conversations, eventually leading to clear strategic focus on improving their plastic impact. Since that fist letter, many more companies have undertaken their own research and tried to understand possible solutions to measures and track this impact.

About their motivation, Stewart Investors’s state: “We believe that sustainable development is a key driver of investment returns. […] The world faces many sustainable development challenges. […] We seek to find business models that will benefit from a shift in both developed and developing countries from a resource-intensive, consumption-driven, debt-dependent model of development towards a more sustainable one.”

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