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The Appeal of Sustainable Investing

Amid a demographic shift, more investors want to have an impact.

Sustainability is on a lot of people's minds these days. Jeremy Grantham opened his keynote address at last summer's Morningstar Investment Conference by outlining several issues that he said were "obsessing" him, among them long-term resource limitations, climate problems, food problems, income inequality, and the loss of corporate stakeholders.

Grantham's obsessions reflect widespread concerns of investors over sustainability issues, as well as the growing recognition of the need to move toward a more sustainable global economy. In areas such as consumer choice and workplace satisfaction, surveys report widespread support for sustainability concepts. According to the 2014 Nielsen Global Survey of Corporate Social Responsibility, more than half of consumers surveyed globally said they would be willing to pay more for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact.(1) Two thirds said they would prefer to work for a socially responsible company.