Investing at the Intersection of Racial Justice & Climate Change

Over the prior nine months, we initiated multiple convenings of the RISE Community to learn how best to invest at the intersection of racial justice and climate change. We lifted up the voices of leaders in progressive movements for racial and climate justice and found a compelling connection between the two – the devastating impact of the industrial agriculture system on the planet, particularly in communities of color across the globe. Therefore, in alignment with movements at the forefront of racial and climate justice, RISE will divest from the most troubling areas of the industrial agriculture industry.

Thank you to our many social justice partners and the broader RISE Community, and a special thanks to Gopal Dayaneni from the ETC Group and Lindley Mease from the Clima Fund, for building this understanding and basis for investor action.

Highlights of What We Learned1
Industrial agriculture is strongly linked to climate change:
• Over 50% of carbon emissions are the result of industrial agriculture.
• Synthetic fertilizers are deeply tied to the fossil fuel industry.Industrial agriculture is closely linked to racial injustice:
• The majority of farmers directly impacted by the predatory practices of industrial agricultural companies are people of color in the Global South.
• Most of the labor force in the industrial food system are people of color who work in harvesting, processing, retail, and other low paying jobs.
• Six of the ten worst paying jobs in America are in the industrial food system.

Changes to the RISE Portfolio

Interestingly, due to recent mergers, the top four agrochemical companies by market share are also major seed companies. Because these and similar publicly traded companies are key players in the industrial food system, our investment team will focus on divestment and follow the recommendation from our social justice partners to divest from the biggest seed and agrochemical consolidators and the producers of synthetic fertilizers.

Our goal at RISE is to invest in ways that support the needs of people and the planet; we can no longer reconcile being invested in corporations that are at the heart of the extractive industrial agricultural system. Most of the bad corporate actors have already been screened out of the RISE portfolio due to our rigorous climate change screens and, in 2020, RISE will divest from seed, agrochemical, and synthetic fertilizer companies.

Our research and conversations showed that we may be able to further amplify these efforts by divesting from financial companies that fund or underwrite the seed, agrochemical, and fertilizer companies. With that in mind, we are seeking data sources that will allow us to properly identify and potentially divest from asset management firms, banks, or commodity traders that underwrite or fund those subsectors of industrial agriculture.

Influencing the Investment Industry

Data drives change in our industry, and commercial data providers rely on self-reported corporate sustainability data that can be unreliable. RISE will share our powerful findings and approach to addressing racial and climate justice with our colleagues in the finance industry and encourage them to join us.

Get Involved and Learn More

Learn! To learn more about industrial agriculture and its negative impacts on people and the planet, check out these resources:
Plate Tech-Tonics: Mapping Corporate Power in Big Food by ETC Group
Growing Power: Mega-Mergers and the Fight for Our Food System by TNI
Watch our Racial Justice & Climate Change: The Industrial Agriculture Connection webinar.

Donate! Want to financially support efforts to build a food system that works for people and the planet? Check out this list of organizations that our community partner, Gopal Dayaneni, compiled (this list is by no means comprehensive, but it is a good starting place).

Join us! Join the RISE Community and learn more about social justice investing.

These materials should not be construed as a recommendation, endorsement, or sponsorship by Robasciotti & Philipson, nor are they affiliated with or employed by Robasciotti & Philipson. Please note that Robasciotti &Philipson does not endorse these sites or the products and services contained therein. They are provided for informational purposes only.

1 Source citations for all claims in this section may be found in Plate Tech-Tonics: Mapping Corporate Power in Big Food by ETC Group.