ADRIAN – U.S. congregations of the Dominican Sisters have launched a strategic investment initiative in collaboration with Morgan Stanley to address climate change, especially as it affects marginalized communities disproportionately impacted by global warming.
The Sisters committed $46,650,000 to the initiative, seeding climate solutions funds that have attracted more than $130,000,000 in capital investments, according to a news release from the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
The fund was started on the anniversary of the publication of Pope Francis’ “Laudato Si’,” an encyclical on the “care of our common home” published June 18, 2015.
Leaders of 16 congregations of Dominican sisters, representing nearly 3,500 Catholic sisters, are participating in this collaborative initiative in partnership with the Chicago office of Graystone Consulting Group, a women-led institutional consulting practice which is part of Morgan Stanley. The Sisters’ anchor investments in this initiative have attracted additional investors, providing a pool of more than $130 million for investment in climate solutions that integrate the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals on water, sanitation, food security, energy and related challenges facing economically impoverished communities.
“Dominicans have long been engaged in addressing issues related to poverty and Earth’s degradation,” Sister Patricia Siemen, prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, said in the news release. “We are extending these efforts to Wall Street by proactively investing in marketplace climate solutions that we hope will have a catalyzing impact for the common good of people and planet.”
The initiative — five years in the making — has attracted numerous other investors, such as the Oblate International Pastoral Investment Trust and CommonSpirit Health.
“We are delighted that this integrated approach to climate investing has attracted other investors and investment managers, helping to scale this kind of approach to climate finance globally,” Siemen said. “We are bringing these resources to the marketplace to help address our deep concern about the integrity of God’s creation and the people most impacted by climate change.”
The “unusual partnership” between U.S. Catholic Sisters and a global Wall Street investment firm emerged from a commitment the Dominican Sisters made as a conference in 2015 to “develop an appropriate strategy to promote investment in climate solutions,” the release said.
The congregations formed a task force to identify a financial institution that would develop financial products addressing climate change and integrating the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.
“Partnering with Morgan Stanley’s Graystone Consulting, we seek to identify models for faith-based organizations and other institutions and individuals to proactively invest in climate solutions that will help our world shift to a renewables-based economy while assisting the neediest communities around the globe,” Siemen said. “We want to do all we can to protect Earth, our common home, and help safeguard the future for young people today and for generations to come.”
The integrated approach to climate finance echoes the call Francis issued in “Laudato Si’” for “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the underprivileged and at the same time protecting nature.” The initiative is aligned with efforts that Catholic sisters around the world have undertaken for years to address issues related to poverty and ecological degradation.
U.S. Catholic Sisters, including congregations of Dominican Sisters, are financially independent of the Roman Catholic Church, the release said. Their revenues come from ministerial earnings, which are pooled along with donations in support of their mission, Social Security payments, and earnings on investment of these resources.