04 Nov A globally responsible community foundation: Clayoquot Biosphere Trust
Investing in a fossil-free portfolio offers new possibilities for impact to foundations with a specific, local mission. Clayoquot Biosphere Trust’s impactful local programs are supported by a customized fossil free investment fund that, in turn, has its own positive impacts.
In January 2000, Clayoquot Sound became British Columbia’s first UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The UNESCO designation celebrated Clayoquot’s unique ecosystems and the respectful relationship of its people with their environment. As some of the only remaining intact temperate zone rainforest watersheds left in the northern hemisphere, the Reserve’s 3,000 km2 were significant to biodiversity conservation. Residents were looking for ways to be more sustainable while continuing the traditional economic activities of the region, such as logging and fishing.
A socially ethical investment mandate
Upon the UNESCO Reserve’s inception, the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust was granted a $12 million endowment fund by Environment Canada for research, education and training purposes relating to sustainable development and conservation. The fund came with a mandate for sustainability and socially responsible investment. To help them meet these terms, Clayoquot Biosphere Trust turned to Vancouver-based Genus Capital who customized a fossil free investment fund that has supported earnings of $550,000 to $600,000 annually for the last 15 years.
“Genus’ SRI fund has given us a means of delivering on our mission, not just locally, but on a larger global citizen scale.”
Rebecca Hurwitz, Executive Director, Clayoquot Biosphere Trust
Sustainability & financial performance
Rebecca Hurwitz, Executive Director at Clayoquot Biosphere Trust, is happy with the fund’s “thriving” performance, with returns not only comparable, but often better than conventional funds. According to the Responsible Investment Association, 87% of impact investors who targeted portfolio competitiveness either met or outperformed expectations in 2013.
As a community foundation, Clayoquot Biosphere Trust’s impacts from programs are mainly felt in the local community. As a socially responsible investor, they have been able to increase their impact to a global scale while maintaining their financial sustainability.