Amid Pandemic and Worsening Climate and Water Crisis, the Sustainability Movement Grew Stronger

Sep 24, 2020 4:45 PM ET

More than 60 investors and companies join Ceres powerful networks and major initiatives to tackle the greatest sustainability threats

Press Release

September 24, 2020 /3BL Media/ - Ceres’ influential member-based networks and initiatives of investors and companies saw significant growth in 2020, welcoming 62 new members, the sustainability nonprofit organization announced during Climate Week NYC 2020. The growth is a clear sign that the sustainability movement as a whole is bigger and stronger and more committed to sustainable business leadership than ever before. 

Ceres welcomed 25 investor and corporate members to its signature networks this year, bringing the total number of Ceres network members to 232. Ceres’ networks help to build investor and corporate sustainability leadership and drive innovative tools and solutions throughout the economy to tackle our greatest global threats — including the climate crisis, water scarcity and pollution and inequitable workplaces.

“This incredible growth in membership in the middle of a pandemic is truly inspiring and demonstrates a commitment to sustainable business leadership,” said Justin Bakule, Vice President of Networks at Ceres. “Investors and companies are joining Ceres and the broader sustainability movement because they are recognizing that acting on environmental, social and governance issues is a business imperative. We look forward to working with our new members in the year ahead to help them become leaders and thrive in the accelerated transition to a more equitable, just and sustainable net-zero future.”

Ceres’ new network members include: 

Ceres Investor Network
This network of institutional investors welcomed 9 new members in 2020, bringing the total to 176 investors managing more than $29 trillion in assets. They include: Fannie Mae, i(X) Investments, Lord Abbett, New Jersey Division of Investment, Orion Energy Partners, Pacific Global Asset Management, Prentiss Smith & Company Inc., Redwood Grove Capital LLC, and Steinberg Asset Management.

Ceres Company Network 
This network, focused on building sustainable business leadership, welcomed six companies in 2020, including Akamai, Amazon, Capital One, Edison International, Fannie Mae, and Liberty Mutual. The network now comprises 53 companies, 70 percent of which are Fortune 500 firms. 

Ceres Policy Network (BICEP)
This network focused on advancing climate and clean energy policies welcomed 10 new members in 2020, bringing the total to 68 members strong. They include Akamai Technologies, Inc., Ball Corporation, Biogen Idec Inc., Burt's Bees, Danone North America, DSM, Mass Brigham General, McDonald's Corp., Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) and Workday.

“Sustainability is no longer a niche product, it is a way of managing core financial risk and making impactful investments that will produce superior returns,” Kirsten Spalding, senior program director of the Ceres Investor Network at Ceres. “These new members in the Ceres Investor Network bring a wealth of investment expertise from different parts of the finance sector, and we are looking forward to having them join us in this critical work.” 

“Just like our existing members, the new Ceres Company Network members understand the critical importance of sustainability as a driver of business value,” John Weiss, Co-Senior Program Director of the Ceres Company Network at Ceres. “More importantly, they understand the value of inviting Ceres to challenge them when their performance falls short of stakeholder expectations or is ripe for acceleration. Our goal is to engage with companies that want to demonstrate leadership in rising to the urgency of climate change, natural resource depletion, the failure to protect human rights, and inequity in all its forms -- and to help them become and remain leaders.”

“The Ceres Policy Network keeps growing stronger every year, bringing more heft to our advocacy work at the federal and state level,” said Anne Kelly, vice president of government relations at Ceres. “We need businesses now more than ever to not only act, but to speak up. They are powerful voices that can influence policymakers on Capitol Hill and in statehouses - and now as they advocate virtually from home.  We look forward to working with our new members in the year ahead to call for science-based climate action and ambitious policy.”

Ceres also launched two new member-based initiatives this year -- the Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance and the Valuing Water Finance Task Force. Since launch they have grown to 21 and 15 members, respectively.

Ceres’ initiative members include:

Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance
This collaborative group of companies working to accelerate the U.S. transition to electric vehicles grew to 21 companies this year. Launched in January with 11 founding members including Amazon, AT&T, Clif Bar & Company, Consumers Energy, DHL, Direct Energy, Genentech, IKEA USA, LeasePlan, Lime, and Siemens US. Since launch, 10 new members have joined including American Airlines Group Inc., Best Buy Co. Inc., Edison International, Exelon Corporation, Hertz Global Holdings, Inc., JLL, National Grid plc, thyssenkrupp Elevator, T-Mobile and Uber.

Valuing Water Finance Task Force
This Task Force was launched in March with 12 investors and banks working to drive corporate action water-related financial risks. It has since grown to include a total of 15 members including AustralianSuper, California State Controller Betty T. Yee, California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS), Cathay Financial Holdings, Cathay Life Insurance, Government Employees Pension Fund of South Africa (GEPF), HESTA, Illinois State Treasurer Michael W. Frerichs, Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF), New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York State Common Retirement Fund, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, PGGM Investments, Sweden’s Sjunde AP-fonden (AP7) and Sweden’s Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB).

Ceres’ global and US partner initiatives also experienced significant growth. 

Climate Action 100+, an investor-led initiative moving the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters to take action on climate change, welcomed 44 new investors this year, including the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock. There are now more than 500 investor signatories with $47 trillion in assets under management -- this represents more than half of the total global assets under management in 2019. 

The We Are Still In coalition, a diverse coalition co-founded by Ceres, designed to ensure the US achieves its climate goals in the Paris Agreement, grew to nearly 4000 leaders strong.

Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy. For more information, visit and follow @CeresNews.