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New digital library helps financiers dig deeper into sustainability

library

There has been plenty of talk recently about a sea change in attitudes regarding climate-related financial risks but making the business case for sustainable finance isn’t always easy.

Responsible investment expert Pablo Berrutti is hoping to change that with a not-for-profit digital library and resource centre that will help people understand the role finance must play in addressing sustainability challenges.

Dubbed Altiorem after the Latin for “higher, deeper”, the library will be launched on 17 March at the Responsible Investment Association Australia 2020 conference in Sydney.

“We are trying to find a higher purpose for the finance industry so that was the genesis of the name,” Mr Berrutti told The Fifth Estate.

The finance industry has significant influence on business, and social and environmental issues through the way it allocates

Pablo Berrutti

Pablo Berrutti

capital. In his years of experience working in the sector, Mr Berrutti was often asked for help in forming a case for sustainable investment. But even he found it difficult at times to track down the best and most relevant research.

He found also that specialists like him were becoming bottlenecks for change.

I thought we needed better tools,” said Mr Berrutti, who is also a senior investment specialist in the sustainable funds group at Stewart Investors.

It is about taking [sustainable financial expertise] out of the hands of specialists and making it more accessible to a wider group of people who are interested in changing the industry,” he said.

Similar to Wikipedia, Altiorem relies on a community of researchers, including university students and academics, who identify and review high-quality research, tag it for easy location, and create summaries of the most salient points.

Users – anyone in business, industry or the general public – can suggest content they would like to access.

Using tabs on the website, users can find research and tools that can help make a business or ethical case for sustainable finance, and help implement a sustainable finance framework in an organisation, among other things.

“It could be anything from human rights to climate change, to the financial performance of companies,” Mr Berrutti said.

Altiorem, a registered charity, was kick-started with donations and will soon be seeking more funds. The service will remain free but the longer-term plan is for the library to be financially sustainable via funds raised from webinars, EBooks and corporate sponsorship of awards nights.

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