Dia Mirza, an actor and producer, is the UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador and United Nations Secretary-General’s Advocate for Sustainable Development Goals. She’s also an eco-investor and the global ambassador for the International Fund for Animal Welfare besides being a green entrepreneur.
As an environmental advocate, she puts her money where her beliefs are and has invested in sustainable ventures such as home and kitchen care products company Beco India, wooden toys for children enterprise Shumee, organic baby and toddler clothing brand Greendigo and Bamboo diapers and wipes company Allter.
In a conversation with Forbes Advisor India, Mirza spoke about why she thinks sustainable investing is the need of the hour, why a rethink on the investments being made is urgent and the ways in which one can get started with sustainable investing.
What different aspects of investing are you exploring and why sustainable investing?
Let me start off by clarifying that I am not any kind of an expert. The only way that I respond to the market is from my heart. And I truly believe in the power that healthy investments can make in contributing towards the health of the planet.
A lot of what I’m doing right now with allocating my resources towards investments, comes from a place of understanding conscious capitalism and investing in companies and organizations that care for people as much as they care for the planet. And that’s really the benchmark.
I believe in the importance of doing a healthy amount of research and understanding whether the companies that are making the claims that they are, are truly walking the talk and are genuinely aligned with the sustainable development goals and are they truly delivering to the promise of the values that they espouse? And what really gets me interested are these very important factors.
The idea really is to encourage more people to understand how important it is to use our resources to build a healthier planet in a healthier world for our children. Because it’s time that we became more discerning about how we were spending our money, not just on our everyday needs and essentials, but also on how we invest.
How can people at large be inspired to think before they invest, and how to really involve and indulge their efforts in sustainable investing?
So if you are dealing with a bank—a lot of people tend to take that traditional route of asking their banks to help them invest—the first thing one needs to do is to do a little bit of research on what your bank is funding. Is your bank funding fossil fuels? Is your bank funding the kind of organizations or companies that are destroying natural systems? If the answer is yes, you need to change the bank. That’s the first step.
The second is to then align yourselves with investment firms that ask all the right questions. And if you want to know which company is actually doing good for the people and the planet, any firm should be able to answer those questions for you. If the answer is in the negative, you know, you shouldn’t be putting your money there.
Even if they come to you with a portfolio and say that this is a great investment, you should be doing these mutual funds or these bonds, ask your investment advisor to give you data and research or some kinds of information about the companies that they’re asking you to investment invest in, based on whether the company is aligned with the ESG index and how is it impacting the planet.
What is the biggest challenge to actually be able to invest sustainably?
When we think about wealth, I think the first thing that we need to directly address is that human well-being and growth, and peace and prosperity is directly linked with the health of the planet. When we make investments keeping that in mind, the long-term benefits of such investments will be huge.
Do you feel that the efforts for sustainable investing from the influential fraternity need to be fiercer?
Oh, absolutely. I think what we collectively need to recognise is that we’re living through a time of deep crisis. And we have to stop living in denial, and all of our attitudes, all of our choices, impacts everyone, everywhere. So forget being a part of any industry. I think, just as individuals as human beings, we need to take cognizance of the fact that we really need to shift the dynamic, we need to shift the systems we need to change many things around us. And that means breaking old habits. That means understanding that sometimes what we perceive as convenient or comfortable is damaging.
And I absolutely agree with you that our choices need to become more fierce. We need to make stronger and more knowledge-based choices when it comes to what we’re projecting as well, in our everyday lives. What are we endorsing, what are we promoting?Who are we backing?, what kind of stories are we telling, it impacts everything. And I really believe in the power of choice. And I think that when we choose, we can inspire more people to do so.
What would you like to say to people who are still not taking a look at sustainable investing; they’re interested, but they don’t know the way ahead?
There will be no way ahead if we don’t take the sustainable path. And that is the truth that the human species is confronted by. We have wiped out 69% of wildlife in only the last 50 years. Our ecosystem is in complete collapse.
If we as human beings don’t change the way we do business, if we don’t change the way we live, if we don’t change our patterns of consumption, it’s going to be a very, very dark future for our children and our grandchildren, and within our lifetime, we are going to witness or find changes. So it’s really time for us to wake up and make the changes that we need to see.