Responsible Property Investing
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Gary Pivo and Paul McNamara
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International Real Estate Review
This paper was written for the principles for responsible investment project of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI). The UNEP FI is a global partnership between UNEP and the financial sector to understand the impacts of environmental and social considerations on financial performance. As recommended in this paper, the UNEP FI is organizing a Property Working Group (PWG) to further examine the issues discussed here. Information about the PWG can be obtained from the authors. Responsible property investing (RPI) means maximizing the positive and minimizing the negative social and environmental effects of property investing, consistent with fiduciary responsibilities. Our understanding of these issues has progressed a good deal over the decades due to work by the United Nations and others. Property markets are inextricably linked to urban problems and better management of both new and existing properties is needed to resolve them. The perception that RPI necessarily dilutes investment returns should be challenged. There is mounting evidence that RPI can be financially sound and socially beneficial. Leaders have emerged that are demonstrating its feasibility. Their activity should be considered as a basis for best practice guidelines. There is a need to develop metrics for comparing progress on RPI. We recommend: 1) establishing an RPI working group, 2) summarizing prior reports on urban issues, 3) identifying investment strategies that are profitable and responsive to the issues, 4) clarifying the financial effects of different responses and improving our means of measuring them, 5) identifying best practices, 6) adopting a rating system, 7) supporting RPI investment funds, and 8) recognizing leaders in the field.