Sustainable investment


20 February 2024

Deepshikha Singh, Deputy Head of La Française Sustainable Investment Research & Head of Stewardship, La Française AM

The concept of the polycrisis , popularised by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in its Global Risks Report 2023 , refers to a state where multiple crises intertwine - their causes and processes inextricably bound together to create compounded effects. The report warned that the world faced the risk of an emerging polycrisis in relation to “shortages in natural resources such as food, water and metals and minerals” by 2030. A year later, the complexities we face in the world today remain as challenging, if not more. Roughly 10% (783m people) of the world’s population is undernourished as of 2023  and the number of people living in extreme poverty has risen to nearly 700m , a significant share living in conflict-affected areas. From wars in Gaza and Ukraine to hostilities in the Middle East, conflicts and violence have led to mass migrations, food and energy insecurity and disruption in trade which has caused ripple effects through society. The entire 2.2m population of Gaza is faced with the risk of famine as the war continues . Geopolitical risks have also increased the probability of recession in Europe and the US , while the economies of several emerging countries like Lebanon, Argentina, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are already holding on by a thread.  

Around the globe, unforeseen climate emergencies in 2023 – like torrential rains in Southeast Asia and droughts in Africa - have taken thousands of lives, caused billions in infrastructure and economic damage and have displaced vulnerable populations.  During the wrap up of COP28, the United Nations (UN) issued an appeal for $46.4bn for 2024, in order to bring aid to 181m people worldwide, suffering from famine and disease or subject to mass displacement, stemming from conflicts, climate emergencies and collapsing economies. People, planet and profit – all three P’s have been put under threat in this age of polycrisis.

Investing based on systems – a case for transformative investing

Big problems require strong actions. To address the polycrisis that we are experiencing, society needs to invest in transformative change across multiple planetary, societal and economic ecosystems. Systems-based investing or transformative investing is a school of investing that is theoretically guided by a systemic theory of change  and that applies a comprehensive systems intervention approach. 

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