Tom Woelfel writes for Pacific Community Ventures on Ecomically Targeted Investments.
U.S.-based public and private pension funds have been making Economically Targeted Investments (ETIs)—investments that generate societal benefits in addition to the investment return—since the 1960s. Over this time, pension funds have sought risk-adjusted returns for their plan’s participants and beneficiaries through investments in worker-friendly affordable housing, in-state businesses, infrastructure, and other projects. The practice of pension funds making ETIs has continued amidst challenges, such as the politicization of some ETIs in the 1980s and 1990s and economic downturns that significantly impacted the U.S. economy. More recently, new types of investments such as those that incorporate environmental social governance (ESG) factors and impact investments have emerged for consideration by pension funds, and the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals are being utilized by some as a guide to investment.