Whales, Climate Change and Impact Investing

Scrolling through the World Economic Forum (WEF) posts on LinkedIn is a journey of disbelief, excitement, and hope. The first deals with the distressing facts on climate change, poverty, and inequality. The second is related to the numerous incredible inventions and new technologies that are put to use. The third, hope, might well be the most important. While the climate crisis is real and a serious threat, with the human species to blame for almost all, we still can do something about it.

Recently WEF launched a video with a simple and clear message. Now that CO2 levels are at its highest in 3 million years, every way to absorb it is of paramount importance and should be investigated seriously. What about more whales? Roaming the seas, this mammal absorbs 33.000 kg of CO2 over its life. And it has a tiny companion: phytoplankton. These creatures are capable of absorbing around 40 percent of all CO2. This compares to 1,7 trillion trees which is approximately 4 Amazon rainforests.

It is a typical example of how the big ecosystem works. Earth knows how to handle the problems it is faced with, on the short term as well as on the long term. And the aforementioned more whales = more phytoplankton = more CO2 reduction investment is nothing but “Using nature’s own technology to fight climate change”, as World Economic Forum points out. It also reminds us to be the best stewards we can be. This planet, the one and only home we have, is not ours. We do not own it. And like the houses where we spend our lives, it needs proper maintenance to keep it from falling apart.

If this were a business case, investors wouldn’t even ask for more details, eager as they would be to sign such a profitable deal. The transition to a sustainable economy is a long-term project though. And it implies introducing impact investing, as well as redefining the concept of return on investment. Data on the impact of ‘going sustainable’ is one of the most valuable tools at company level. We can help you with this. With our research we have developed schemes and tools to measure the impact of sustainable investments, taking into account the benefits for the organisation and society. Making the best choices when it comes to investing in the future involves thinking beyond tomorrow and including all stakeholders. It is a shift from ‘Me’ to ‘We’, tapping into a corporate strategy that is based on values and principles, with a clear purpose that is more aligned with wellbeing than welfare. Think, choose, measure, and learn is at the core of impact strategy. True leadership is combining the social, ecological and financial agenda in order to create a win-win-win outcome.


Prof. dr. Karen Maas (scientific director Impact Centre Erasmus and endowed professor Accounting & Sustainability at the Open Universiteit)

mr. dr. Marina van Driel (advisor Erasmus Institute for Business Economics)

We Trust. We Share. We Build.

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