ImpactAlpha Open | March 28, 2023

ImpactAlpha Open: Texas’s climate lead + lessons from the plant-based bust

Dennis Price

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ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Happy Tuesday, Agents of Impact! Welcome to this week’s ImpactAlpha Open. Two quick action items:

👋 Call No. 50: Metrics Madness: The Southern Reconstruction Fund’s Napoleon Wallace put out a call; Agents of Impact have answered with dozens of submissions. Join The Call for the fun and fruitful finale of Metrics Madness, tomorrow, March 29, at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm London. RSVP now.

🎉 Unlock an exclusive offerEnjoying ImpactAlpha Open? Go daily, and deeper, with an all-access ImpactAlpha subscription. Join today and get your first year for $140. Learn more.

In this week’s newsletter:

  • Texas’s climate lead
  • The season’s proxy battles
  • Lessons from the plant-based bust
  • Opportunity Zone impact

Let’s get to it. – Dennis Price

Must-reads on ImpactAlpha

  • Texas’s climate lead. The Lone Star state already leads the U.S. in wind power. Within a few months, Texas will surpass California in utility-scale solar capacity. An oil-pumping, Republican-led state seizing the lead in the U.S. clean energy race represents a decisive shift in the narrative, I report from Austin. Does Texas have the will to win?
  • Managing human capital. The new research agenda on human capital from Just Capital and Ford Foundation could help reshape accounting to treat workers as assets, not liabilities, ImpactAlpha’s David Bank reports.
  • Proxy battles. This spring’s spate of shareholder resolutions on climate action, reproductive rights and corporate political influence have become proxies in the broader battle over ESG investing, as ImpactAlpha’s Amy Cortese reports.
  • Metrics and mood music. Our third roundup of impact reports, from managers like Founders First and Mercy Corps Ventures, keyed in on the metrics, such as quality jobs and rising small-business revenues.

    • BlueMark’s Sarah Gelfand answers frequently asked questions about what should go into such impact reports.
    • ImpactAlpha’s Roodgally Senatus explores PolicyLink’s new blueprint, which frames 10 outcomes for racial equity investors.
  • Price on water.’ Other Agents of Impact are optimizing on water suppliesworking foreststree-planting and climate solutions in emerging markets.

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Agents of Impact

📈 Mindy Lubber, Ceres: Making the business case for responsible investing

Hundreds of companies and investors last week urged policymakers to protect their “freedom to invest responsibly,” marking a new level of mobilization to reclaim the narrative from an anti-ESG campaign that refuses to go away. A key orchestrator of the effort was Mindy Lubber, who has, for two decades at the helm of the nonprofit Ceres, worked the levers of power in corporate offices, investor boardrooms and on Capitol Hill in support of climate goals. 

🏃🏿‍♀️ On the move

  • Harold Pettigrew Jr., ex- of the Washington Area Community Investment Fund, will become president and CEO of Opportunity Finance Network.
  • James Andrus, ex- of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, joined Franklin Templeton in the new role of sustainability global markets vice president.
  • Stephen Vicinelli, ex- of TIFF Investment Management, joins Social Finance as vice president of impact investments.

Impact Briefing

🎧 On this week’s podcast

Host Monique Aiken has the headlines and Atlas Impact Partners’ Robert Brown and ImpactAlpha contributing editor Imogen Rose-Smith join David Bank to parse how bank failures and interest rate hikes have changed the dynamics of impact investing – perhaps forever.

Deal Spotlight

💸 Catalyzing capital for Africa’s water and sanitation infrastructure 

Providing access to clean water and sanitation has long been a public-sector responsibility. But lower-income countries struggle to fund and implement critical water and sanitation infrastructure. Two Africa-focused water access funds launched ahead of World Water Day last week “to prove that the drinking water sector is investment-ready, even when targeting low-income people,” said Incofin’s Dina Pons.

Six Signals

🌱 Institutionalizing climate-risk mitigation. More than eight out of 10 investors (83%) consider or plan to consider climate risk when making investment decisions, according to a Nuveen survey of 800 institutional investors. Almost three-quarters plan to increase allocations to private investments over the next five years. (Nuveen)

🤖 AI and climate. Reducing paperwork overhead for rebates. Optimizing vehicle movement to minimize carbon emissions. Discovering new molecules to replace fossil-fuel derived plastics. Climate tech wonks answer this question from HubSpot’s Brian Halligan: How will generative AI be applied to the climate crisis? (Brian Halligan)

🍔 Lessons from the plant-based bustThe takeaway from Zora’s Venessa Bartram: Beyond’s enormous decline in market cap doesn’t reflect the failure of an industry. It tracks the return to planet Earth of an overhyped company in an overhyped stock market. (Vanessa Bartram)

👨‍🌾 Smart smallholder subsidies. Aceli Africa’s incentives are shifting lender practices in the fragmented agricultural markets of sub-Saharan Africa towards smaller ticket sizes, new value chains and more remote geographies. (Aceli Africa)

🏠 Opportunity Zone impactEarly achievements of the place-based policy: expansive geographic reach, large-scale private investment, and significant economic effects, according to Economic Innovation Group. Needed: supporting mission-driven funds, narrowing investment criteria and broadening who can invest, says Urban Institute. (Economic Innovation Group / Urban Institute)

💲 Maximizing investments in America. Trillions in federal funds are on the way. Among the ways state and local leaders can make the most of it: Establish results management offices to centralize operations, increase coordination, track spending and monitor project milestones. (Governing)

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