Dame Ellen MacArthur is a brilliant sailor. In 2004 she became the fastest person to circumnavigate the globe singlehanded and has competed in and won many of the hardest offshore sailing races in the world. But Dame Ellen isn’t just a star in the sport of sailing (or for that matter in her support of young cancer sufferers via www.ellenmacarthurcancertrust.org ), she is also an absolute legend in the arena of sustainability.
In 2010, Ellen MacArthur launched the www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org and she passionately explains why in her Ted Talk here . Working with academia, business, governments and agencies on sustainability issues is her key focus these days. The foundation has popularised the concept of the ‘circular economy’ and @circulareconomy are well worth following on Twitter. Through their research they have built some very thought provoking frameworks for thinking, acting and investing sustainably. They continually remind us that sustainability is a multi-dimensional problem and cannot be solved with one-dimensional thinking (remember my thematic spin soapbox).
I really like the concept of the ‘circular economy’ and in particular, the RE.S.O.L.V.E framework outlined below. It clearly shows the role that disruptive technology plays across the spectrum of sustainability solutions. Sharing, Optimising, Virtualising and Exchanging are all enabled by innovative business models that are leveraging innovative technologies and philosophies. Such frameworks encourage us to think about the second, third and fourth order impacts of our decisions (and it fits with our thinking on impact see second order impact soapbox). The companies highlighted by Ellen and her team (see below) are household names that we can all identify with, but RESOLVE also enables us to see them as sustainable value creators in ways that we think are ignored by one dimensional approaches to sustainable investing (and the market in general).
Moving beyond the obvious in terms of investible companies we believe such frameworks are even more powerful in helping smart investors to identify unappreciated long-term disruptive investment ideas (see #SustainableDisruptors soapbox).
Ellen reminds us that investing sustainably isn’t just about restricting and constraining. It’s about identifying disruptive companies that capture value from doing things better and like Ellen, we have a plan.