Director, Investor Initiative, Water Program
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Monika researches corporate and investor exposure to risks related to growing water scarcity and water quality issues. She explores capital markets solutions to these challenges and ways that businesses and investors can more proactively manage water risks and limit impacts to water resources. Her work looks to reshape how economic actors value water and drive better water management, recognizing that healthy water resources are an economic imperative.
Monika focuses on working with investors on deepening their integration of environmental, social and governance factors, and in particular water, into portfolio management and engagement processes. She directs the Investor Water Hub, which is a working group of INCR that promotes peer-to-peer learning and is developing an investor water risk assessment model or approach. Many of the ideas and resources developed for investors interested in water risk integration can be found at www.ceres.org/investorwaterhandbook.
Monika also studies water risks in shale energy development and supports the Water Program’s work on water issues across a variety of sectors including agriculture, infrastructure and municipal systems.
A major theme in all of her work is to more closely connect the scientific and financial fields. Prior to Ceres, Monika worked as a research consultant for the Initiative for Responsible Investment at Harvard, publishing a white paper that explored the roots of the concept of sustainability from a variety of fields to inform the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB). Previous to this she worked as a financial analyst for an emerging market equity fund and in fixed income sell-side research. Monika was awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for her work on wetland ecosystems earning a Masters of Science in aquatic ecology, has an undergraduate degree in finance, and is a chartered financial analyst.
Recent Blog Posts
Ceres is launching a new Q&A series as part of its Clean Trillion campaign aimed at elevating clean energy investments globally by an additional $1 trillion a year in order to minimize damaging climate change impacts. The series will focus on investment thought leaders who are paving the way in this fast-growing space. Today’s interview is with Monika Freyman, director of Investor Initiatives, Ceres’ Water Program about the launch of a new ‘green’ standard for water bonds.
Devastating droughts in California, Brazil, South Africa and elsewhere, coupled with global trends of groundwater depletion and water quality degradation are motivating investors to become more water aware. With support from The Rockefeller Foundation, Ceres leverages the power of institutional investors, who own or lend to many of the world’s largest companies, to play a more decisive role in protecting the Earth’s freshwater resources.
Growing competition for water, climate variability, pollution from agricultural runoff, weak water management and regulation, and aging infrastructure all contribute to a water availability crisis that was recently named the top global risk in terms of impact by the World Economic Forum.
My previous article, “Liquidity Risks of the H2O Variety,” explored growing investor awareness about water risks within their portfolios and how that awareness plays into their investment decision making. Here, I will examine some of the increasingly sophisticated approaches that investors can take to integrate water risks into portfolio management.
The fact is water — or the lack of it — poses investor risks. Companies and investors can no longer ignore increasing competition over limited water resources. Some investors view water as one of the many environmental, social, and governance (ESG) variables that can have very tangible payoffs — if studied and the lessons applied properly.