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What Celebrating Failed Investments Can Teach Us

Trying to bring about change is not easy. Especially when operating in a rapidly developing field like impact investing. Learning hurts and failure is a natural part of the process of finding one’s way as a sustainable investor. But how to not let the fear of failure stifle courageous decision-making? How to move forward when hard-worked plans and long-term dreams collapse? In order to share experiences from their uphill journeys, alumni from the IRI/CSP Impact Investing for the Next Generation program gathered for a Fail Fest to celebrate their first attempts in learning.

“Failed investments are part of being an…

Sustainable finance can help win the fight for sustainability if we see it as a toolbox, sharpen the tools, and use them right.
Sustainable finance can help win the fight for sustainability if we see it as a toolbox, sharpen the tools, and use them right.

Sustainable finance as a toolbox can be pivotal in getting us out of the ongoing sustainability crisis. But only if we put the tools in order and learn how to use them right.

Imagine a boxing ring. On one side of that ring is a growing and energetic community of entrepreneurs, activists, researchers, and investors. They are pushing human ingenuity in order to realize sustainable development. Their goal is clear: the actions of current generations are not to compromise the opportunities of future generations.

On the other side of the ring is a very small band of — let’s face…

Meat alternatives have become en vogue over the last years, yet alternatives to seafood are still new to the market. But the tide is turning.

The wave of attention created by the Seaspiracy documentary has directed focus to the dire state of the seas and the actions necessary to curb the prospects of an empty, permanently damaged ocean. Knowing that the oceans generate most of the oxygen we breathe and are vital to sustaining human life as we know it, the urgency to break the vicious cycle is clear.

At the heart of the problem lies the seafood industry. The…

Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth — Newsletter
Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth — Newsletter

New research, new trainings, new sustainability experts.
Sustainability is here to stay.

Connecting the dots. This is what transforming research to practice is about. And this is the key message of this newsletter and our work. Below are highlights from the past months ranging from recent reports on what we can learn from the originals of sustainable investing all the way to how to accelerate the impact journeys of self-made tech wealth owners. Even if tech investors and catholic nuns seem to be worlds apart, our work shows that as long you are impact-driven, we are in this together.


A symbol of faith: a man balances on a slackline across a river.
A symbol of faith: a man balances on a slackline across a river.
Image Credit: Loic Leray via Unsplash

Faith-based investing is often considered as old as religion itself and religion is seen as having played a central role in the early development of sustainable and responsible investing. But where do these trailblazers stand today? How has the field of faith-based investing developed? What insights can it offer the impact investing community at large, and vice versa?

These questions are the focus of the recently published CSP report Unleashing the Potential of Faith-Based Investors for Positive Impact and Sustainable Development. …

Impact is the buzzword of the hour. The use of the term competes with “sustainability” — an expression that is everywhere, yet few know what it actually, concretely means. However, as opposed to “sustainability,” impact is a clear-cut concept. It means change caused by an action. Impact is change beyond what would have happened anyhow

I recently wrote a post on the meaning of impact citing the definition coined by Julian Kölbel and me in the Investor’s Guide to Impact:

Impact is the change in a specific social or environmental parameter that is caused by an activity.

Applying this definition…

Image by Markus Spiske on Unsplash and icon by Made x Made on The Noun Project

One of the goals of CSP is to understand how investing can be used as a tool to enable the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals. Examples of our work on this are plenty and I have linked some of them below. The reason for this post is that there are two recent breakthroughs I would like to highlight. First, our work has found its way to the regulatory processes of the EU. Second, the data to inform sustainable decision-making is becoming increasingly available — partly thanks to our research on the subject.

This means that the needle is moving…

Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth — Newsletter
Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth — Newsletter

CSP reached a significant milestone in October with the launch of a guide that gives concrete advice for investors on how they can use their levers to bring about real-world change. The fresh Investor’s Guide to Impact compiles years of research on maximizing impact into one booklet and provides tools and concrete steps on how to move from feel-good to do-good investments.

Furthermore, we warmly welcome you to expand your knowledge on impact with us by participating in our upcoming webinars. More information on them below. …

Image by Eberhard Grossgast on Unsplash

The Investor’s Guide to Impact is a tool for investors who want to have a positive impact on the world. Prepared by researchers of the Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth at the University of Zurich, the guide provides concrete steps on how investors can effectively contribute to solving the world’s biggest problems — and how not.

Based on a review of academic literature, the guide supports investors in developing an evidence-based impact strategy for their investment portfolio. The key principle laid out in the guide is that investors who seek to have impact should focus on the change…

We have news! Autumn is traditionally the time of new beginnings, and this year autumn brings CSP something special: we are piloting our first step into a new geographical region. I have accepted the additional role as Assistant Professor of Social Finance at EBS University Business School near Wiesbaden/Frankfurt. In practice, this will mean more research in sustainable finance, more reach, and more impact. All steps the world needs now more than ever.

This is a strategic step ahead for CSP that we are very excited about. I will continue leading CSP together with our COO Heather Kirk and Head…

Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth

CSP is a research center at UZH. We conduct research and train wealth owners & investment professionals in order to move capital towards sustainable growth.

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