Ceres

Ceres is transforming the economy to build a sustainable future for people and the planet.

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$21M

Annual Revenue

83%

Spent On Programs

1%

CEO Compensation

Advocacy

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Awareness

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Direct Service

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Private Sector Collaboration

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Policy Legislation

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Research

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Financials

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Management

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About Ceres

Ceres was founded nearly 30 years ago by Joan Bavaria, then-president of the Trillium Asset Management, the oldest and largest investment management firm focused on sustainable investing. Enraged by the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Ceres created a corporate environmental code of conduct for companies to follow.  Their first participating Fortune 500 company was Sunoco, an American petroleum and petrochemical manufacturer. Since then, they have expanded their document to include 20 sustainability-focused principles related to governance, stakeholder engagement, disclosure, and performance. This document has been implemented by dozens of Fortune 500 companies.

Ceres leverages their vast coalition of investors, companies, and public interest groups to discover barriers to sustainable growth within the private sector and to develop strategies to overcome them. Key allies include BlackRock, Apple, Citigroup, Prudential, and Target.  

Ceres also helped to create the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), an international independent standards organization that shows businesses and governments their impact and role in regard to climate change. Over 1,200 companies use these standards for corporate reporting on environmental performance.

Why We Chose to Feature This Organization

The Simply Virtuous team comes from the financial sector and have worked for investment banks, an asset manager, and a hedge fund. When we discovered Ceres was working directly with powerful firms such as Blackrock and Deutsche Asset Management, we knew we wanted to include them in the portfolio. The financial industry is incredibly powerful. Their decisions impact how other businesses operate, and if they can convince companies to clean up their act, we'd all be better off. 

Ceres focuses on two different programs: their Investor Network and their Company Network. Their Investor Network includes over 140 institutional investors who manage more than 23 trillion in assets. Ceres partners with the participating members to manage carbon emissions, water and supply chain risks, and increase global investments in clean energy and sustainable food and water systems. Participating members also help to pressure market regulators and global stock exchanges to improve their disclosures regarding environmental risk and increase climate and clean energy and water policies.

In their Company Network, Ceres partners with major companies and Fortune 500 firms to increase their sustainability. When you have this type of money and influence, others will want to follow what you do. By partnering with these investors and companies, Ceres impact on global sustainability is unmatchable.

Lastly, we appreciate how many women executives there are at Ceres, with the top 3 compensated executives from the fiscal year 2015 being women.

Private Sector Collaboration

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Financials

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Management

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Ceres believes in the power of the markets. Individual emissions account for only 10% of total emissions in the U.S., with the rest coming from transport and industries. Our economy was built on the back of fossil fuels, but it doesn’t need to continue that way. Ceres partners with the biggest companies and institutional investors to implement sustainable practices, lower emissions, increase transparency, and invest responsibly. We will focus on a selection of their partnerships and networks below.

BlackRock + Ceres

Managing risk is crucial to making sound investment decisions. BlackRock believes that risks related to climate change should be considered alongside traditional forms. That’s why in 2015, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with 4.6 trillion AUM (assets under management) teamed up with Ceres to create guidance for investors to invest sustainably. Their guide, titled “21st Century Engagement: Investor Strategies for Incorporating ESG Considerations into Corporate Interactions” includes techniques and case studies from over 30 engagement experts across the globe. Specific topics include how to set ESG standards, which ESG-related questions to ask companies, divesting, board of director engagement, and strategies for international engagements.

Investor Network on Climate Risk and Sustainability

Ceres works with prominent institutional investors and asset managers to improve the sustainability of their investments. These investors have large stakes in these companies and are therefore able to put the pressure on companies to make changes within their organizations to improve sustainability. Within the Investor Network, there are specific working groups centered on specific market sustainability causes. We will discuss a few of these groups below:

Disclosure Working Group

The goal of this group is to require investors and companies to disclose climate change risk in their financial filings. While numerous companies voluntarily disclose this information, there is no cohesive list of requirements, rendering the data useless and at risk of being used as a cheap PR trick. Mandatory disclosures should include consistent information across all disclosure documents, including sustainability reports and financial filings; be both credible and comparable by including quantitative and qualitative information; be informed by a long-term multi-stakeholder perspective and; be a useful tool for investment and voting decisions.

This group also encourages the use of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures. Created at the request of the G20 nations, this group is chaired by Michael Bloomberg and releases recommendations designed to help investors and companies assess climate-related material financial risks, which in turn would need to be disclosed in their public financial filings. Recommendations for assessing climate risk & improving disclosures include: improving climate scenario analysis, requiring insurance companies to assess climate risks and opportunities, sorting water data risk by geographical location and asset class, reporting on land use change from deforestation, and adopting climate risk disclosure requirements.

Investor Water Hub

As droughts become more and more frequent, sustainable water usage becomes more and more important. The Ceres’ Investor Water Hub is a group of asset owners and asset managers concerned with including water risk in their investment decision-making process. Ceres brings these parties together with affiliated investors, NGO leaders, and water experts who share their water-related practices, research, and solution methods.

The investor Water Hub recently developed an Investor Water Toolkit which helps investors better understand water risks within their investment portfolios. The toolkit was developed by over 40 institutional investors, including representatives from Citi and Macquarie. Within the toolkit, topics such as water-oriented investment policies, asset class analysis, water risk mapping, and buy/sell decision making are covered. There are numerous case studies and tools to tackle these topics. It is available online and aims to make water issues a key factor in investment decisions.

Carbon Asset Risk Working Group

What is carbon asset risk? It is the concept that if fossil fuel companies burned through their current reserves, catastrophic climate warming would ensue, and any chances of keeping warming below 2 degrees would be obsolete.

The Carbon Asset Risk Working Group launched the Carbon Asset Risk initiative in 2013. Over 75 investors who hold over 3.5 trillion in combined assets called on 45 of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies to begin assessing and releasing the real risks of their assets. In response, over 20 companies have begun to disclose relevant information, such as if they internally price carbon emissions and if/how they assess their impact on limiting global warming to 2 degrees. Being revolutionary and voluntary, much of the information varied in quality, however its success lies in the fact that the topic is becoming wide stream. From Wall Street analysts to fossil fuel executives, these once taboo and overlooked topics are beginning to be discussed and considered across industries and sectors.

Management

Ceres

Mindy Lubber

President

Experience and Education
  • Regional Administrator of the EPA
  • Founder, CEO, and President of Green Century Capital Management
  • Master in Business Administration from SUNY Buffalo
  • Law degree from Suffolk University
Compensation
$213,000

Ceres

Susan Sayers

Chief Development Officer

Experience and Education
  • Chief Development Officer at Partners in Health
  • Doctor of Philosophy in American History from Harvard University
  • Bachelor of Arts in History and Psychology from Vanderbilt University
Compensation
$186,000

Ceres

Hilary Forbes

Senior Department Director of Human Resources and Operations

Experience and Education
  • Managing Director at the Junior League of Boston
  • Master of Education from Vanderbilt University
  • Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Smith College
Compensation
$124,000

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