Monthly Archives: April 2015

April Edition of the JSFB: “Urban Innovation”

This month’s JSFB features articles that examine many aspects of urbanization – from existential threats (like the lack of natural water resources in Singapore), to tremendous opportunities (like the potential of “green” bonds in financing cleaner energy), and new tools to more effectively measure the ability of the private sector to address societal need. We traverse oceans and green spaces, the state of housing in India and renewable energy projects, as our cities and their planners consider the necessary steps to adapt for decades to come.

A new peak in urban mobility for New York City was achieved in 2014 with 1.7B people having ridden its sprawling subway system. More recently, we saw another notable milestone with the introduction of the “UberChopper,” which offers a $484 sightseeing helicopter ride above Shanghai so that Uber, the disruptive player in transport, can continue to gauge interest in airborne services.

A Catalyst for Collaboration in Water Tech Innovation

California is in the midst of a record-setting drought, which includes the lowest precipitation for any 12-month period, the highest annual temperature, and the most extreme drought indicators in more than 100 years of record. For the first time in 75 years, the California Department of Water Resources found no snow on the Philips snow course in Sierra Nevada and traditionally, snowpack is at its peak in early April each year. How does the public sector address the “new normal” of increasing water scarcity through innovative technology and policies? An example from Singapore illustrates one approach.

Market Summary

The first quarter of 2015 is in the books and global equity markets are demonstrating a level of resilience despite mixed economic data and continued turmoil in Greece. Equity bulls seem to be driving the market – weak economic data is viewed as likely to delay the Fed rate hikes and strong data is viewed as generally positive for stocks. Investors are now focused on corporate earnings as they listen for forward-looking commentary that confirms the “grinding higher” action witnessed in equity markets.

Cracking the Affordable Housing Market in India

In Mumbai, the booming economic capital of India with nearly 20 million people, housing issues are particularly acute. Over half the city lives in slums, according to the census. Yet, in the past 20 years, only 200,000 housing units have been produced under government schemes. When the head of Lafarge’s affordable housing initiative in India visited our small office in Dharavi — a settlement known as Mumbai’s largest slum — we had no idea it would be the beginning of an adventure leading us to break through huge economic and cultural firewalls.

Is Investing in Ocean Health a Key to Our Urban Future?

Today, half of the world’s people live in cities. By 2050, three out of four people will be urban citizens. This reality makes smart urban development one of our biggest opportunities for a more resilient, sustainable future — a future where people and nature are connected and thriving together. To be successful, we have to do a significantly better job of investing in innovative solutions in our natural environment. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment for engineers, urban planners, community leaders, ecologists and investors.

CarbonCount: A Quantitative Impact Scoring System for “Green” Bonds

It should be a watershed year for the “de-carbonization” of the US power sector, with record volumes of coal-fired capacity to be shuttered, renewables capacity to be built, and natural gas to be consumed. The result: CO2 emissions from the power sector should drop to their lowest level since 1994. So how might we persuade investors to capitalize on opportunities in clean energy technology and accelerate the market for green bonds?

CarbonCount™ is a new metric that evaluates bond investments in US energy-efficiency and renewable-energy projects based on the expected reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions resulting from each $1,000 of investment.

Giving Fiduciaries a Hand with Infrastructure Due Diligence

About five years ago a large number of planners, designers, architects, and engineers were gathered at a conference hosted by the Zofnass Program for Sustainability at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. The theme of the conference was Infrastructure Sustainability. There were more than a dozen distinguished speakers including a director of research for a prominent rating agency. His remarks were preceded by panels of experts in sustainable design. Each speaker, including the author of this article, was convinced that they were doing their part to change the world, one high-impact infrastructure project at a time. It was a love-fest.

Smart Transportation: The Urban Life Force

Life force represents our sense of vitality; it’s the thing that separates the living from the nonliving. In our cities, our collective life force is demonstrated by the quality of our lives, as measured by the health of our society, economy, and our relationship to the environment; indeed, transportation is the vital force that spurs continued growth and well-being for communities.

Cornerstone Capital at “The Model Room”

In one of the most iconic rooms of New York, Cornerstone Capital Group joined together with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Astia Angels, XMS Capital Partners, The Clinton Global Initiative and ATCO Realty, to host entrepreneurs, innovators and financiers at the New York Yacht Club’s “Model Room” to engage in wide-ranging discussions on sustainable and impact investing and the potential for the private sector to drive system-level change at scale.

UBS’ Intellectual Capital Blog: Interview with Erika Karp

The following interview with sustainable investing expert, Erika Karp, Founder and CEO of Cornerstone Capital Group, first appeared on the UBS Intellectual Capital Blog.  Stephen Freedman, CFA, Head of Thematic and Sustainable Investing Strategy, UBS Many of you may remember Erika Karp, a long-term UBS veteran, who was head of Global Sector Research at UBS Investment Bank until… Read more »

Cornerstone at “The Model Room”

Cornerstone Capital Group hosted a gathering of financiers and entrepreneurs on April 2nd at The New York Yacht Club’s “Model Room” for an evening dedicated to new business models and innovation. The event featured welcome remarks from Richard Parsons as well as co-hosts Justin Rockefeller of The Rockefeller Bros. Fund and Dale Hemmerdinger of ATCO… Read more »

Updating the Global Equity Strategy Investment Clock

An Increasingly Cautious Near-Term Equity Outlook — Plotting our sector and regional equity recommendations on the face of an “investment clock” suggests an increasingly cautious near-term outlook for global equities. A Tilt Away from Cyclical Sectors and Regions — Last month, we tilted further from cyclical sectors and regions. As for sectors, we are underweight Energy and Materials, neutral Industrials. In terms of regions, we are underweight CEEMEA and Latin America.