It’s a Wonderful Life.

We all feel that we are failures, at sometime in our lives. Things don’t work out, ideas or projects seem to fail in our eyes, or they take a lifetime to come to fruition. During that dark, seemingly hopeless period, it is imperative to keep the faith, eyes on the ball and keep tilling the soil. Shoots ultimately will come out.

Recently, my wife, Rieki,  experienced the ultimate Frank Capra “It’s a wonderful life” moment. My wife started a Hotel School in Bhutan, called the Bongde Institute for Hospitality and Tourism about 2 years ago.  She struggled continuously trying to get the school off the ground in a frontier market, with no funding, no infrastructure, no income, with continuous challenges and obstacles that she needed to overcome. Recently, she finally saw what she had created and what Jimmy Stewart felt like in It’s a Wonderful Life (Experiencing what would have happen if we didn’t exist).

To reward one of her best students, Kinley, Rieki decided to bring her to Amsterdam for an internship at a four star hotel in Amsterdam. This was the first time that Kinley was ever outstide of Bhutan. Kinley started working at the hotel and her work was exceptional. So exceptional, that one day a gentleman who was having a meal there, called her over and inquired about her background. He said “why is it that you are so good at your work in comparison with the rest of the food and beverage staff”. She said “I studied at the Bongde Institute of Hospitality and Tourism in Bhutan”. He said “WHAT. I want to meet the person who started that school”. A hotel school that trained its staff well and was based in Bhutan was quite a shock. It turns out that this man was a very successful hotelier, entrepreneur and had a large enterprise owning and operating 5 star hotels in Asia.

Rieki and the Hotelier met and he was overwhelmed by what Rieki had done and was planning to do next. He offered to take interns from her school, send equipment if needed, and wants to discuss collaboration on her hotel school in Bhutan, and potential hotel development in Bhutan. In addition, he was particularly interested in her next project. Building a working hotel school for the Governor of the Karen State in Myanmar to help the 100.000 refugees, and developing a culturally authentic and carbon neutral hospitality sector.

We are all an overnight success when we least expect it. Congrats Rieki and your Learning Exchange Foundation.

Sweden sets goal to phase out greenhouse gas emissions by 2045

Stockholm is the setting for our next TBLI CONFERENCE NORDIC 2017, Sept. 28-29. Come join us.

Support TBLI Foundation in building a Global Value(s) based Investment Community.

2017 Trump Presidency Cause for Celebration-Tipping Point towards Fuel Free Energy and Value(s) Investing

As the year comes to an end,  we normally take stock and think encouraging thoughts for the future. I feel extremely upbeat, in spite of hardships, refugee crisis, elections, referendums, heros dying, Syrian War, corporate governance abuses, financial challenges, and more.

Who would have thought that Donald Trump would become President of the United States. Well, in spite of losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million, he is. Among my immediate and intermediate network, many were upset, angry, and concerned that the progress that had been made on climate change,  would end. In addition, we would lose all the momentum that COP 21 set in motion. Fossil intensive investments would gain the uperhand. I don’t share that concern. In fact, maybe this is the ultimate stress test that a carbon free economy needs. The USA has a President and his team, and a great deal of Congressmen and Senators, that are climate deniers. The government seems controlled by those in the camp of fossil intensive industries. If we can survive that, then the system has turned the corner. I believe we have. Just look at the figures, even if Donald and Fox News say otherwise.

Coal companies have gone bankrupt (Peabody) or loss most of their share price, on lack of demand and low prices. Oil prices are at historic lows. If demand keeps going down for fossil fuels, how will increasing drilling and mining help the matter. That train has left the station. If we look at the state of fuel free energy systems, we can only see massive success that can’t be turned back, as that would fly in the face of economics. Trump’s team does seem to have some expertise in making money and should be able to do the math.

2016 has been a year of record low prices for low-carbon technologies. In August, a solar PV project in Chile set a new low price of 2.9c/kWh. The following month, a record low was set for offshore wind in Danish waters of approximately 6.4c/kWh. The third record to fall is that of battery storage courtesy of Tesla’s Powerwall 2 that was announced in November. The Powerwall 2 is nearly half the installed cost per kWh of its predecessor with an inverter built in, making it “the cheapest lithium battery for the home ever made”, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). To make matters all the more impressive, BNEF announced this year that 2015 saw record levels of investment into renewables and record installed capacity.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 2016

How electric cars will cause further oil collapse?

Investment Agreements

The Montreal Pledge is the first agreement of investors that require full transparency of their carbon risk and exposure. You can imagine that very few have signed, as this is not an aspirational statement like most of the international ESG agreements, but a true commitment to de-carbonization. “By signing the Montréal Carbon Pledge, investors commit to measure and publicly disclose the carbon footprint of their investment portfolios on an annual basis.”

Want to know who has signed and who hasn’t?

Podcast on Corporate Governance-Wells Fargo Bad Form

Great podcast on how Wells Fargo forced its sales teams to force customers to buy products they didn’t want, which led to fraudulent practices. Unfortunately, the employees took a great deal of the fallout.

TBLI VIP Dinners

In 2016, TBLI organised 4 VIP dinners and they were a huge success. The last two we held Dec 6&7, were sold out. In 2017,  TBLI will be organising private dinners in various locations during international ESG & Impact Conferences,  for a small group of thought leaders (25). The goal is to support each other in our ambition of scaling up Impact Investing.

Speaking Engagement:

Responsible Investment 2017 Copenhagen March 2, 2017

Books:

Journal of Cleaner Production

TBLI Foundation

Support TBLI’s work on building capacity and educating asset owners and managers about liquid and illiquid investments in Sustainability (ESG and Impact Investing). Make a Donation to TBLI Foundation.

Closing Remarks

I want to particularly thank my immediate family. They have been a great source of strength, inspiration, and sometimes less so. One thing, for sure, they are never boring. Rieki, Sam and Silas. May all your aspirations come true. Let’s keep laughing.

Arthur stay well and hope to see you more frequently in 2017.

To my 90 year old mother in NY. As we say in Brooklyn ‘Ma. Ya did good.” Thanks.

As a sign of defiance in a world of injustice, let us all confront Chat and Cutters, and other abuses, as Larry David does so brilliantly.

TBLI Nordic 2016 Success

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TBLI CONFERENCE NORDIC 2016

Our 32nd TBLI CONFERENCE  was held in Stockholm at Nasdaq, last week and it was definitely one of our best events. I want to thank all the sponsors, speakers, moderators, and staff for making TBLI NORDIC such a joy and inspiration.

This was the first, but definitely not the last time, we held TBLI in Stockholm. I particularly want to thank Nasdaq for hosting us.

If you missed the event, and want to experience some of the visuals, presentations, interviews and blogs, please visit Nordic Knowledge Centre


Testimonial

Hi Robert,

Just wanted to say I am richer for knowing you. Friends are important to me, and you are a friend.
The conference was a huge success from my point of view and from everything I heard others say. Congratulations.
Best, and hugs from Karen,
Arvind Narula
CEO Urmatt

TBLI Trump Award for Ignorance!

Look at this video interview about ESG Investment. Start at 135 seconds,and try not to laugh too loud.


Impact Platform

Impact Investing Platform for Consumers

Rabble is an impact investing platform that connects people with projects that strengthen communities.  Rabble makes it simple and straightforward for people – accredited and non-accredited investors alike – to invest in impactful ventures, real estate, and renewable energy projects.


New Books

Book-Urban Water Security

 

Am I cynical or critical?

From my last blog post, I got a great deal of feedback and some excellent comments that I wanted to share with you. Thank you to my friends, critics and cynics for sharing. Enjoy.

You are a lovable cynic. Which is odd for someone in a business fundamentally defined by idealism and optimism.

The cynic believes people are motivated purely by self-interest. [Synonyms: Sceptic, doubter, doubting Thomas, scoffer.]

Impact investors are motivated by outer-directedness: acting for honorable or unselfish reasons to achieve civic, social or environmental good. [Antonyms: idealist, optimist.] The cynic doubts their sincerity.

Each of us embodies tendencies of self-interest and outer-directedness.

Perhaps the root of your cynicism is recognizing the overly simplistic black-and-white cynical/idealist framework is inherently inaccurate.

Balance matters in life and balance is elusive. All of us balance tendencies in our behavior and decisions. Impact investors are no different from the rest of us. Their motivations are honorable, but investors are people, and people aren’t at their best when they engage self-destructive behavior.

There is nothing wrong with self-interest. People can help others better after helping themselves. That’s why the airlines tell us before every flight: Put on your oxygen mask before helping others with theirs.

Today, the aspiration of a 100% impact portfolio may be noble but unrealistic given the complex realities of the carbon economy.
Balancing aspiration and realism is an ongoing conversation. Your work is a catalyst to that conversation.

Barry Seiffer

Nice post. The return on rhetoric within the impact space is low… And the traditional finance community continues to misprice risk by 1) valuing liquidity events over actual progress–be it specific impact outcomes or even core operating revenues and 2) not looking at ESG and other sustainability risks meaningfully (or dismissing them…only to get smacked economically on the back end).

But there is a way—risk can be opportunity seeking…take a look at a couple pieces that we have put out on the concept–for corporate operators/enterprises as well as for fiduciaries and investors:
Risk and Opportunity Inc.: Managing Risks As Profitable Opportunities

Let’s connect soon!

Amit Sharma

‘Robert, you are a pain in the ass. I am a pain in the ass. Many of us are a pain in the ass. The vast majority of the financial folks aren’t yet in any way convinced that we are doing a necessary job. Just as we both experienced in recent gatherings even those that create products around renewables, are ego-centric, technology-centric, dollar-centric, financial system-centric. It all has to remain in the same system boundaries, because it’s their system, it’s all they learned, and they don’t see that leaders necessarily create masses of brave followers.

I have spend 5 years now in understanding the human brain, studied Beck/Graves/Wilber’s spiral dynamics, looked at Scharmer’s Theory U, understand Mindfulness…it all boils down to one single thing…the need for systemic change needs to be understood and grab these people by their inner self…one by one…and it’s painful…normally. This is why I co-founded the ThriveAbility Foundation, worked with my colleagues Robin Wood, Bill Baue and Paul van Schaik on the synthesis of sustainability (the original concept), design, innovation and consciousness. We developed the ThriveAbility Journey, the ThriveAbility Roadmap, assessments that help overcome the sustainability context gap, the organizational transformation gap and, finally, the socio-cultural leadership gap. We have calculated True Future Value as an ‚irrestistable‘ way to analyze companies and are about to develop a ThriveAbility Index, based on the three gaps, in order to bring the financial markets back home.

GISR is in the meanwhile covering the continuous improvement needs in the rating, ranking and indexing world, and Reporting 3.0 develops recommendations for standard setters, the accounting profession, data providers and new business model representatives on how to boost their own improvement to make the micro-macro link happen. That is my world, and it needs a systemic approach. There will never ever be sustainability without economic systems boundary change. And as long as that doesn’t change and people are forced to stay within the existing boundaries, especially in the financial market sector, you and I will remain a pain in the ass.’

Thanks for addressing this, and I hope you appreciate my honest response!

Warm regards,

Ralph Thurm

TBLI CONFERENCE NORDIC PROGRAM FINISHED

Please join all the sustainable finance thought leaders, cynics, critics and great souls who are gathering in Stockholm on Sept. 20-21 at Nasdaq

TBLI VIP Dinners Stockholm and Amsterdam

As part of our ongoing capacity building work, we recently held our TBLI VIP dinners in Stockholm and Amsterdam. I want to thank all the thought leaders, asset owners and managers who joined us to share experiences and knowledge around ESG & Impact Investing. In particular, I want to thank Janus Capital for hosting the dinners. It was a wonderful and inspiring evening.

I look forward to the next dinners and breaking bread with another group of inspiring people.