Sustainability trust given green light

Iain Henderson at the Global Sustainability Trust forum in Edinburgh. Picture: Lesley Martin
Iain Henderson at the Global Sustainability Trust forum in Edinburgh. Picture: Lesley Martin
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A ground-breaking investment trust has been launched to help deliver on the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.

The roll-out of the Global Sustainability Investment Trust (GST) comes 150 years after the first investment trust was launched. Many of the early trusts were established in Scotland and billed as a “democratising of finance” – giving individual investors access to global investment opportunities, such as US railroads.

The Global Sustainability Community Interest Company (CIC) was established to develop the launch of the GST. Over the past year, it has received support from a range of private and public organisations across the UK and internationally.

The trust is said to have attracted “considerable interest” from wealth managers and IFAs. The GST will offer investors exposure to “high-impact” sectors such as microfinance, social infrastructure, green property, conservation finance and the circular economy.

The CIC is now in the final stages of a fund manager selection process and expects to be able to launch a public share offer towards the end of the third quarter of the year.

A second forum has been held in Edinburgh to discuss the progress made on the launch of the new trust. Speakers at the event included Iain Henderson, head of international cooperation at the UN Environment Inquiry, and Christoffer Dahlberg from Symbiotics, an impact investment firm in emerging markets. The event was sponsored by legal firm Dickson Minto, which is a founding supporter of the initiative.

Henderson said: “Delivering the sustainable development goals is one of the defining challenges of our time.

“We are seeing that investors representing trillions of dollars globally are interested in sustainability outcomes but are struggling with the associated complexity.

“The GST is a welcome innovation that connects the demand for high-quality, patient sustainable capital with the supply through an effective and efficient structure. It is an excellent example of how financial markets can be aligned with our global sustainability aspirations.”

Dickson Minto partner Douglas Armstrong said: “We have been delighted with the support shown by investors for the GST.

“It is clear that there is strong investor demand across all parts of the market for a genuinely unique approach to democratising SDG finance.

“We look forward to making further announcements in relation to the launch of the Global Sustainability Trust plc over the next few months.”

Dahlberg added: “Microfinance and other high-impact investment sectors need the supply of more patient and permanent capital, so we are very supportive of what the Global Sustainability Trust initiative is aiming to achieve.

“Not only can permanent capital help the microfinance sector deliver a higher social impact, but it is also a capital structure that delivers higher risk-adjusted investment returns to investors.”

The GST will be a closed-ended UK investment trust whose shares will be listed on the premium segment of the UK Listing Authority and the main London Stock Exchange.