Published 2020-01-31

This post is also available in Swedish

Al Gore welcomed back to Mistra

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, former US Vice President and Generation Investment Management Chair Al Gore visited Sweden on 29 January. Mistra, Generation’s first institutional investor, hosted an informal meeting between Mr Gore and Swedish investors and foundations to discuss the climate challenges ahead.

Mr Al Gore. Photo: Thomas Nilsson

Mr Gore started off by stating that the climate emergency was intensifying ‘way faster’ than people realise and that, globally, political willingness to address the issue is weak. However, the rapid transition of the energy sector towards renewables and the finance industry’s increased awareness offer prospects of positive change.

In the discussion that followed, divestment was raised as a self-evident risk management strategy to avoid stranded assets in some cases. In others, a commitment to encourage change from within may be justified. Other issues highlighted were the need to put a price on carbon and value externalities. The discussions engaged, and clearly inspired, the participants. ‘What more can we do?’ was one question the high-level participants asked.

Thirty institutional investors, including major Swedish private and public foundations, pension funds and private capital investment organisations, and the Swedish Minister for Financial Markets Per Bolund, attended the meeting. Photo: Thomas Nilsson

The meeting, held at Mistra’s office in Stockholm, attracted some 30 institutional investors, including major Swedish private and public foundations, pension funds and private capital investment organisations, along with the Swedish Minister for Financial Markets Per Bolund. Mr Bolund intervened to thank Mr Gore for his pioneering efforts to mobilise the financial sector to tackle the climate crisis.

Swedish Minister for Financial Markets Per Bolund and Mr Al Gore. Photo: Thomas Nilsson

After welcoming remarks from Mistra’s Board Chair Johan Söderström, Märtha Josefsson, Chair of Mistra’s Asset Management Committee, described the background to Mistra’s early investment in the Generation Global Equity fund.

Märtha Josefsson, Chair of Mistra’s Asset Management Committee. Photo: Thomas Nilsson

‘More than 15 years ago, Mistra decided that our investment principles should be in line with the Foundation’s overall strategy. We wanted to walk the talk by having a sustainability investment approach, but on condition that we didn’t compromise on the return,’ Josefsson began.

‘One of the asset managers that came to us in 2005 was Generation Investment Management. They had started building a truly trustworthy investment organisation, and their philosophy was to integrate financial analyses with sustainability analyses. They intended to launch a global fund, and they were seeking institutional money. We found them to be a perfect match and Mistra became the first institutional investor in this fund.’

‘Generation has really proved that a sustainability investment approach adds value, when it comes both to return and to the financial industry’s focus on climate change,’ Josefsson concluded.

‘At Mistra, we’re very grateful for our close collaboration with Generation Investment Management and the opportunity to host this important meeting,’ said Åsa Moberg, Programmes Director responsible for sustainability dialogues with asset managers.

‘Mr Gore inspires us all to rise to the occasion at this crucial moment in history. This encourages and supports investors and asset managers who are on the frontline, pushing for sustainable finance. Also, importantly, at the meeting with Mr Gore the need for mainstreaming was stressed. Climate issues should now be an integrated part of all investors’ risk management strategy, and also guide new investment opportunities.’

Mr Al Gore, Mistra staff and Board Chair Johan Söderström.

Generation Investment Management was founded by Al Gore and David Blood in 2004. Mistra was its first institutional client. With this investment, Mistra made a practical contribution to spreading the message that good returns can go hand in hand with long-term perspectives and sustainability.