Robert Massie Honored – Twice – for Long String of Achievements in Building a Sustainable Global Economy
Minister, Activist, Prize-Winning Historian, and Global Reporting Initiative Founder Sweeps 2009 Joan Bavaria Sustainability Awards
Robert Massie has co-founded a homeless shelter. He’s led a parish. He’s run for statewide public office, lectured for years at the Harvard Divinity School, led the world in battling South African apartheid and then written the definitive history of America’s role in that movement.
On top of all that he’s built one of the most effective systems ever for monitoring and improving corporate performance on environmental and social impacts.
For all those achievements, Massie, of Boston, was honored tonight by Ceres and Trillium Asset Management as this year’s winner of two Joan Bavaria Awards for Building Sustainability into the Capital Markets. The awards were announced at the opening reception of the Ceres annual conference, which runs through Thursday at the Fairmont Hotel.
“Bob Massie’s legacy in weaving social and environmental considerations into our global economic accounting system is far-reaching,” said Ceres President Mindy S. Lubber at the awards reception. “Whether by launching the Global Reporting Initiative or introducing global investors to the concept of climate change risks, Bob has always been a step ahead in understanding the linkages between capital markets and the long-term sustainability of our planet – and the steps needed to strengthen those linkages.”
Massie received two awards, the Bavaria Award for Innovation and the Bavaria Award for Long-Term Impact. The awards honor the late Joan Bavaria, a pioneer of social investing who founded both Ceres and Trillium Asset Management. Bavaria passed away last November.
The Bavaria Awards honor two types of leaders – a proven innovator and a long-term results-getter – in the effort to move capital markets from a focus on short-term profits toward a system that balances financial prosperity with social and environmental health.
Cheryl Smith, senior portfolio manager at Trillium and one of the award judges, said Massie "clearly exemplifies the spirit of both these awards. In this very meaningful ceremony, the first since Joan's passing, we are delighted to honor Bob's inventiveness and significant contributions that have helped shift capital markets toward Joan’s vision."
Massie fits the bill as both innovator and results-producing leader in spades.
Bob Massie the innovator co-founded the Global Reporting Initiative in 1998, one of the most ambitious worldwide efforts to boost corporate disclosure on their environmental, social and human rights performance. Massie the results-getter turned GRI into one of the most effective worldwide tools of that cause. More than 1,500 companies now report their impacts through GRI.
Massie the innovator took the helm in 1996 of a four-person nonprofit group called Ceres – seven years after its founding by Joan Bavaria – and launched it on the path to becoming the largest coalition of investors, environmental and public interest organizations in North America.
Massie the innovator promoted the idea of engaging with institutional investors on the financial risks posed by climate change. That helped pave the way to the first Investor Summit on Climate Risk at the United Nations and the formation of the Ceres-led Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) in 2003. INCR has since grown from 10 investors managing $600 billion in assets to 80 investors managing more than $7 trillion in assets.
Ceres board co-chair Norm Dean called Massie “an intellectual powerhouse” in his letter supporting him for the Bavaria Awards. And he added that Massie “ also has an ability to sell the need for change that is among one of his great strengths – Bob’s efforts speak to Joan (Bavaria’s) strengths and ideals and embody the spirit of this award.”
Before her death last November, Joan Bavaria praised Massie as “a person whose intellectual scope and ability to communicate complex concepts in passionate speeches or elegant and forceful writing are almost without equal.”
A few highlights from Massie’s speeches and writing over the years:
“We are taught – falsely – that we must accept injustice because of the physical limits of the earth. We accept – wrongly – that what is defines what will be. We think that we are confined by our material conditions, but I believe that we are mostly hemmed in by our lack of dreams.”
“What transformations will be possible in the future? We will only find out if we dream the biggest possible dreams … If there is one motto that I would like you to write down and pin by your bedsides so that you see it every morning when you wake up, it is this: Reality follows ideas.”
“Every day we make choices that (either) support or suppress the moral immune systems of our society. Do we seek security, or do we seek justice? Do we blame, or do we forgive? Do we fear, or do we love? It will be up to you - and people like you – whether tomorrow's inventions will be stolen by the cruel and the powerful – or employed to achieve prosperity and democracy for all.”
The Bavaria Impact Award honors an individual or organization whose work has created lasting change in moving capital markets from a short-term focus on profits toward a system that balances financial prosperity with social and environmental health.
The Innovation Award goes to a person or organization whose recent work has great potential in catalyzing markets to change their focus.
Founded in 1989, Ceres is a leading coalition of investors, environmental groups and other nonprofit organizations working with companies to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change. For more information, visit www.ceres.org
Trillium Asset Management, founded by Joan Bavaria in 1982, is the oldest and largest independent investment management firm devoted exclusively to socially responsible investing. Her pioneering work there laid the groundwork for the tremendous growth and interest in the socially responsible investing industry today. For more information, visit http://www.trilliuminvest.com.