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Investing for Human Resilience

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By Amy Clarke, Chief Impact Officer of Tribe Impact Capital

Resilience will be central to investment narratives over the next decade as we confront pressing environmental and social challenges. To strengthen infrastructural, planetary and human resilience our focus as impact investors is on the systems we inhabit in order to better understand the interventions that are likely to drive the systems change required.

The investment toolkits that have been deployed over the past 45 years need to be reimagined and pivoted towards rigorous impact analysis, monitoring, measurement and engagement. Resilience, therefore, becomes less of a theme and more of the core thesis upon which everything needs to be rebuilt.

In this article, we focus on Human Resilience. The investments are designed to empower individuals and communities so that they’re able to access affordable basic services including healthcare, clean water, nutritious food, dignified employment, basic financial services, high-quality education and digital connectivity

FOOD SECURITY

From deforestation-linked monocultures to industrial livestock production, our food systems are largely predicated on carbon-intensive and ecologically harmful production techniques and inconsistent nutritional content. Roughly two billion people, or 26% of the global population, experienced moderate or severe food insecurity in 2018.[i] Global food value chains have been disrupted during the Covid-19 pandemic and will continue to be disrupted by the effects of climate change, which will undoubtedly exacerbate hunger and food insecurity into the future. At the same time, poor nutrition manifests in the form of rising levels of obesity and diabetes, with roughly one in three people considered overweight or obese globally.[ii]

As impact investors, we’re interested in supporting those companies providing access to affordable, healthy and nutritious foods, grown using regenerative organic agricultural practices[iii] that improve rather than undermine soil health. The application of technology for resource-efficient, climate-smart agriculture is also of interest. Moreover, we have a strong focus on the plant-based revolution, from both a nutritional and environmental standpoint, given the many issues embedded in conventional protein and dairy production.

EDUCATIONAL AND ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT

There are significant inequalities, both within and between nations, in terms of access to high quality education, dignified employment and basic financial services. These provisions play a significant role in breaking the cycle of poverty and improving human and emotional resilience, however, many of these inequalities have been exacerbated during the Covid-19 crisis. In 2018, at least 17% or 258 million children and young people between the ages of 6 and 17 were out of school.[iv] Meanwhile, 61% of all workers globally were in informal employment in 2016[v], and in 2019 an estimated 12.8% of young workers were living in extreme poverty.[vi] Many workers lack basic employment provisions like fair wages, sick pay, maternity leave, holiday entitlements, freedom of assembly and association and fair grievance mechanisms.

At the same time, some 1.7 billion adults don’t have access to a bank account to manage their savings and transactions.[vii] As impact investors, we look for opportunities to support the democratisation of affordable, high quality education and financial services so that everyone can be empowered by access to knowledge, as well as financial literacy and agency. Investment opportunities include banks which offer financial services like microlending and mobile savings accounts, as well as learning materials and digital learning platforms. We also pay significant attention to the nature and quality of jobs offered by the companies in our universe, and the extent to which they support lifelong learning and development for employees.

HEALTHCARE ACCESS & INNOVATION

Our ability to diagnose and treat complex communicable and non-communicable diseases is more advanced than ever, given the accumulation of medical expertise over centuries and our ability to develop new and effective medicines. Recent progress in mental health awareness and support provision is also encouraging. However, global health outcomes remain hugely unequal and these health inequalities have been starkly exposed throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

While medical innovations in the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industries provide cause for optimism, concerns remain around the use of animal testing as well as price fixing, cartel behaviour and product safety within these industries. As impact investors, we remain conscious of these issues and pursue investment opportunities that truly support the expansion of safe and affordable healthcare services and treatments. Examples include the provision of digital health services, the production of life-saving medical devices and equipment used in drugs manufacturing.

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