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Market drivers

A number of powerful, secular global megatrends are converging rapidly to create unprecedented risks, challenges, and opportunities for investors, and a growing “sustainability alpha premium” for those companies and investors who can recognize and respond to them.

Here are some of the most compelling market drivers.

Accelerating natural resource degradation, scarcity and constraints, driven to a significant extent by the explosive pace of population growth, industrialization, and urbanization, especially in emerging market economies such as those of Brazil, India, and China.

Major demographic and economic shifts, concentrating the most rapid population and economic growth in emerging markets, where sustainability risks and opportunities are arguably the most compelling.

The expansion and intensification of both industrial competition and institutional investment into those same emerging markets.

Dramatically increased levels of public and consumer concern and expectations for companies’ performance on climate change and other sustainability issues, turbocharged by unprecedented levels of information transparency with which to assess and then communicate it.

Tightening global, regional, and national regulatory requirements for stronger company disclosure and performance on climate change and other “non-traditional” business and investment issues, most notably sustainability.

Growing pressures from international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), armed with unprecedented finan-cial and technical resources, credibility, access to company information, and global communications capabilities with which to disseminate their analysis and viewpoints.

The ongoing revolution in information and communications technologies (the Internet, YouTube, Facebook, webcasts, bloggers, et al.), which has enabled and accelerated the emergence of a stakeholder-driven competitive environment for companies with unprecedented transparency and, therefore, business and investment risk.

The growing economic, socio-political, and competitive impact of major public health issues such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.

A substantial reinterpretation and broadening of the purview of legitimate fiduciary responsibility to include – and, increasingly, require – sustainability factors to be integrated into investment strategies.

An institutional and high net-worth investor base which is increasingly sensitized to sustainability issues, newly equipped with better company disclosure and information, and both willing and able to act on their concerns with new asset allocations.

A growing body of both academic and empirical evidence illuminating the tightening nexus between companies’ performance on sustainability issues and their competitiveness, profitability and share price performance.

Worldwide, a series of national economic stimulus packages, with a “green” component estimated by Société Générale to exceed $1 trillion. In China alone, the package is nearly $600 billion, and over 15% of it is targeted for climate change solutions – by the end of 2010!

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, an increased dissatisfaction with conventional investment approaches, and a search for innovative new solutions.