Dia Mirza, an actor and producer, is a UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Environment and the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals. She is also an eco-investor and global ambassador for the International Fund for Animal Welfare in addition to being a green entrepreneur.
An environmental advocate, she puts her money where her convictions are and has invested in sustainable ventures such as home and kitchen products company Beco India, children’s wooden toy company Shumee, an organic baby and toddler clothing brand Greendigo and Bamboo the diaper and wipes company. Alter.
In a conversation with Forbes Advisor India, Mirza spoke about why she thinks sustainable investing is the need of the hour, why it’s urgent to rethink the investments being made and ways to get started with sustainable investing.
What different aspects of investing do you explore and why sustainable investing?
Let me start by making it clear that I am no expert. The only way I react to the market is from my heart. And I truly believe in the power that sound investments can have in contributing to the health of the planet.
A lot of what I do right now, allocating my resources towards investments, comes from a place of understanding conscious capitalism and investing in companies and organizations that care about people as much as they care about the planet. And that’s really the benchmark.
I believe in the importance of doing a healthy amount of research and understanding if the companies they claim to be are really walking the talk and are they truly aligned with the SDGs and are they really delivering on the promise of the values they espouse? And what really interests me are these very important factors.
The idea is really 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 to become more discerning about how we spend our money, not only on our daily needs and essentials, but also on how we invest.
How can people even be inspired to think before they invest, and how can they really get involved and commit to their efforts in sustainable investing?
So if you’re dealing with a bank—many people tend to go the traditional route of asking their banks to help them invest—the first thing you should do is do a little research on what your bank is financing. Does your bank finance fossil fuels? Does your bank finance those organizations or companies that destroy natural systems? If the answer is yes, you need to change your bank. That’s the first step.
The second is to then align yourself with investment firms that are asking all the right questions. And if you want to know which company is actually doing good for people and the planet, any company should be able to answer those questions. If the answer is no, you know, you shouldn’t put your money there.
Even if they come to you with a portfolio and say this is a great investment, you should work with these mutual funds or these bonds, ask your investment advisor to give you data and research or some kind of information about the companies that they’re asking you to invest in. in, based on whether the company is aligned with the ESG index and how it affects the planet.
What is the biggest challenge for sustainable investing?
When we think about wealth, I think the first thing we need to address directly is that human well-being, growth, peace and prosperity are directly related to the health of the planet. When we make investments with this in mind, the long-term benefits of such investments will be enormous.
Do you think the efforts of the influential sustainable investing fraternity need to be stepped up?
Oh, absolutely. I think what we need to recognize together is that we are living through a time of deep crisis. And we have to stop living in denial, and all our attitudes, all our choices affect everyone, everywhere. So forget that you are part of any industry. I think that just like individuals as well as human beings, we have to consider the fact that we really have to change the dynamics, we have to change the systems that we need to change a lot of things around us. And that means breaking old habits. This means that we understand that what we consider convenient or comfortable is sometimes harmful.
And I absolutely agree with you that our choices need to get tougher. We need to make stronger informed choices when it comes to what we project in our daily lives. What do we support, what do we promote? Who do we support?, what kind of stories do we tell, it affects everything. And I truly 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 thinking about sustainable investing; Are they interested but don’t know the way forward?
There will be no progress if we do not take a sustainable path. And this is the truth that the human species is facing. We have wiped out 69% of wildlife in just 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 consumption patterns, it’s going to be a very, very dark future for our children and our grandchildren, and in our lifetime, we’re going to witness or find changes. So it really is time to wake up and make the changes we need to see.