Sustainability spotlight

Sustainability spotlight

Thinking Ahead Institute research and publications into the role of sustainability in the investment industry

“There are no side effects – just effects… [Side effects] are just a sign that the boundaries of our mental models are too narrow, our time horizons too short” Professor John Sterman, Director of MIT System Dynamics Group.

Sustainability is becoming an ever-more-important theme for the investment industry – indeed, the ‘slow but unstoppable’ sustainability train has now left the station, and is picking up speed. Sustainability is a subject close to the heart of the Thinking Ahead Institute and we have worked on a number of related initiatives since our beginnings in 2015. Much of our work focuses on equipping investment organisations to have a holistic and actionable understanding of sustainable investing and how they create value for wider stakeholders such as society and the planet. We do this through providing easy to navigate tools and guidelines, enabling better alignment of mission and broadening the focus of measurement.



Beliefs to action


Beliefs to action series with Investec and First state super

Nest and AXA IM beliefs to action series

Roger Podcast
A conversation with Lucy Thomas, Head of Investment Stewardship at TCorp and Leon Kamhi, Executive Director: Head of Responsibility at Hermes. A conversation with John Green, Co-CEO of Investec Asset Management and Liza McDonald, Head of Responsible Investment for First State Super. A conversation with Diandra Soobiah, Head of Responsible Investment at Nest, and Matt Christensen, Global Head of Impact and Responsible Investment at AXA IM. A conversation with Jaap van Dam, Principal Director of Investment Strategy at PGGM.

Purpose and value


Culture - multi factor diversity

Purpose and value webinar series overview
We hosted a webinar on 9 May 2019 which looked at purpose and value creation in the investment industry. Marisa Hall shares an overview of research into purpose and value creation in the investment industry.    

2019 sustainability summit

Mike Berners-Lee sustainability summit

Tim Lenton - Sustainability summit

Roger Urwin speaking at the sustainability summit

Sustainability summit panel
Corporate stewardship in pursuit of the SDGs
Professor Mike Berners-Lee
Climate Change
Tim Lenton
Sustainability beliefs
Roger Urwin 
Practitioner panel
Marisa Hall, Russell Picot, Catherine Flockhart and Aled Smith
Sustainability and investments    

David Hoile

Adam Gillett

Roger Podcast

Long-horizon investing webinar
David Hoile, Global Head of Asset Research at Willis Towers Watson, talks about defining sustainability and how it compares to other aspects of investment. Adam Gillett, Head of Sustainable Investment for Willis Towers Watson, at the Institute’s Thinking Ahead Breakfast Seminar. Roger Urwin shares his views on how large investment institutions are dealing with the topic of sustainability. Dr Liang Yin and Marisa Hall discuss the benefits of long-horizon investing
Climate change       

Podcast with Tim Hodgson

Day three Sustainability Confronting new realities
Climate change in a COVID-19 world The climb to the new view
Virtual seminar series
Research papers  

Climate beliefs cover

1.5C working group papers


Our planet’s life supporting system is the ultimate complex system that matters to every one of us. In addressing the challenge of climate change, investors are facing immense levels of uncertainty, compounded by a long time horizon.
A set of strong investment beliefs acts as a long-term compass to guide investment decisions in such an environment.

Sustainability impact paper

Sustainability: understanding impact and value creation 

An investors guide to communicating value created


Featuring case studies from seven global investment organisations, this paper provides practical guidelines to help organisations define purpose and document beliefs; measure impact; and communicate the value created for stakeholders.

Connecting the dots

Connecting the dots: understanding purpose in the investment industry


Exploring the purpose of the investment industry and the agents within it, and how the industry’s value proposition to end savers can be developed and improved.

Mission critical

Mission critical: understanding value creation


We propose a vision of what the investment industry should be, and the duty it should take on, and call more stakeholders to the value creation boundary – in particular the planet, and ideally wider society too.

Sustainability beliefs

Sustainability beliefs: a new measurement tool


Aiming to help asset owners develop fully-rounded beliefs on sustainability, we include a survey to test benchmark the strength of their beliefs against peers to see if and where they can create an investment edge.

Sustainability portfolio construction

Sustainability portfolio construction


This paper focuses on sustainability risk management and portfolio construction, which are the parts investors tend to struggle to apply the most.

Sustainability portfolio construction case studies

Sustainability portfolio construction case studies


A series of case studies from the sustainability portfolio construction working group.