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PRI Advisory Council candidate profile: Boston Common’s Geeta Aiyer

RI profiles of the seven candidates for the open PRI Advisory Council seats.

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Geeta Aiyer, President and Founder of Boston Common Asset Management
Geeta is one of four candidates standing for the non-asset owner position on the PRI Advisory Council

RI suggested some prompt questions for the candidates:
1. Where (with examples) do you think your experience fits, and might enhance, the remit of the PRI Advisory Council?
2. What are the issues you will be campaigning on/pushing as an Advisory Council member, why, and how?
3. What is your vision of the future direction of the PRI and how can you contribute to its realization?

Geeta Aiyer:
“I think it is important for Advisory Council members to understand the nuts and bolts of where the PRI can make a difference. My firm, Boston Common, is one of the most active signatories and is currently a lead investor in dozens of pioneering PRI collaborations from climate change disclosure to sustainable palm oil & fisheries and water disclosure. I have 25 years experience in the responsible investment field with a strong track record as an investor and entrepreneur and of collaborating with fellow investors on shareholder engagements that change corporate practices. I also believe my prior experience at a leading investment consulting firm and in public administration in India will aid PRI’s efforts to expand their influence in new markets around the world. Professionally I’m affiliated with the CFA institute, social investment organizations, alumni groups from Harvard Business School, and serve on the board of the Sierra Club Foundation. Most importantly, I’m willing to roll up my sleeves and get to work!

The growth of responsible investment has been encouraging but I believe we must move further and faster. We cannot rest on our laurels. Firstly, now is a vital time for PRI to help develop ESG practices in emerging and frontier markets. It should do this by empowering others to lead responsible investment in their local regions.At the same time I want to use my experience in the US market to help the PRI to tackle its long-standing underrepresentation here, while still keeping European signatories at the heart of the initiative.

The PRI must venture across investment frontiers as well as geographical ones. I will campaign for more research into areas such as commodities, hedge funds and fixed income to make sure we normalize and entrench responsible investment concepts in mainstream finance. Finally, as the potential representative of non-asset owners on the Advisory Board one of my campaign commitments is to consult with investment managers and professional service provider signatories to ensure I understand how they can get the maximum return for their involvement with the initiative.
Our current financial system has created enormous opportunity and growth but is also at the center of market failures. Through short term thinking, by not pricing negative externalities such as carbon pollution, we have begun to threaten entire species, and the world our children will inherit. We investors can no longer afford to stand by as uninformed, disengaged, passive financial market participants. Finance must play an integral role in sustainable growth. PRI has been be at the vanguard of linking finance and sustainability, sharing best practice, educating and leading in every corner of the investment world. The PRI’s proposed strategic plan urges it “to move from awareness to impact”, and I am eager to help achieve that. At Boston Common we measure the tangible changes that our shareholder engagements bring about for employees and the environment and I hope to share our insights to help PRI to build a similar culture across its signatory network.
Ultimately, I believe that now is the time for the PRI to help its signatories to tackle the new issues, asset classes and markets to redirect capital flows through responsible investment and create a more just, sustainable world.
I’d be happy to hear your thoughts on what actions you think the PRI Advisory Council should take and if you wish to support my candidacy for the Council.”