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Socially responsible investment options seen as limited

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, July 23 NZPA - Opportunities for investing in socially responsible funds are limited, a Council for Socially Responsible Investment (CSRI) conference in Auckland was told.

The concept of socially responsible investment was treated so vaguely and broadly that it covered many things CSRI considered to be unethical, organisation chief executive Robert Howell said.

"When you hone it down there aren't that many SRI funds that deal with saving the environment," he said.

Dr Howell was among the speakers at CSRI's Investment Solutions for a World in Jeopardy conference yesterday.

Many international standards for socially responsible investing, including United Nation principles, were so vague that they opened the way for greenwashing, which was a PR exercise through which organisations tried to look as if they were green when they were not, he said.

Despite the difficulties, speakers at the conference had identified some appropriate investment opportunities.

There were companies in this country working on low carbon, clean technology ideas in such fields as agriculture, transport and fuel, Dr Howell said.

The issue was about more than just a matter of taking social and environmental factors into account, with much more needing to be done to regulate the financial system.

Most investments still did not adequately face up to ecological risks, he said.

The way many banks identified risk was inadequate, failing to take into account risks such as climate change, peak oil and water availability.

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