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  • Writer's pictureCiaran Hughes QFA

Sustainable Finance: Harnessing the Power of $60 Trillion in Global Pensions to Save the World

A closer look at active ownership, divestment, and the potential of sustainable finance to create a better future

Imagine a world where our money doesn't just work for us, but also creates a better future for generations to come. A world where our hard-earned savings are invested in businesses that focus on long-term sustainability, instead of short-term profits. This is the power of sustainable finance, and today, we will explore how we can harness the incredible potential of the $60 trillion in global pensions to transform our planet.

What is Sustainable Finance?

Sustainable finance refers to the integration of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into investment decisions. It's about investors actively seeking out companies that prioritize long-term sustainability, reducing environmental impact, and contributing positively to society. But sustainable finance isn't just a feel-good concept; it's a smart investment strategy that can provide competitive returns.

The Case for Sustainable Finance

So why should we care about sustainable finance? First and foremost, it's an opportunity to create positive change on a massive scale. Our global pension funds have the potential to direct resources towards companies and projects that are committed to a greener, more equitable future.

Secondly, it's important to understand that sustainable investments have consistently performed as well, if not better, than their traditional counterparts. A growing body of research indicates that companies with strong ESG practices tend to exhibit better financial performance, lower risk, and greater resilience during market downturns.

Active Ownership and Divestment

Now, let's delve into two key strategies in sustainable finance: active ownership and divestment.

  1. Active ownership involves investors using their influence to encourage companies to adopt more sustainable practices. By engaging with company management, investors can promote transparency, address ESG risks, and push for long-term value creation. This proactive approach allows investors to protect their investments and contribute to a more sustainable world.

  2. Divestment is the process of selling assets, such as stocks or bonds, in companies that do not meet certain ESG criteria. Divestment sends a powerful message to the market, as it demonstrates that investors are unwilling to support unsustainable practices. Divesting from fossil fuels, for example, can help shift capital towards renewable energy and other sustainable industries.

Comparing Fund Returns: Sustainable vs. Traditional

As mentioned earlier, sustainable investments can provide competitive returns compared to traditional investments. In fact, studies have shown that portfolios incorporating ESG factors often outperform those that don't. This is because companies with robust ESG practices are typically more efficient, better at managing risks, and have a stronger reputation. All of these factors can contribute to higher long-term financial performance.

Using Our Long-Term Savings as a Time Machine

The $60 trillion in global pensions represents an immense opportunity to shape the future of our planet. By directing these funds towards sustainable investments, we can create a world where businesses prioritize long-term value over short-term gains. This shift can lead to a more resilient, equitable, and environmentally friendly global economy.

In essence, our long-term savings can serve as a time machine, enabling us to create a future that we can be proud of. By embracing sustainable finance, we can ensure that our investments not only provide for our retirement but also contribute to a better world for our children and grandchildren.


The power of sustainable finance lies in its ability to leverage the vast wealth of global pensions for positive change. Through active ownership and divestment, we can influence companies to adopt sustainable practices and build a brighter future. As investors, it's our responsibility to recognize the potential of sustainable finance and use it to create a world that we would be happy to leave to future generations.

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