The Future of Investments in Transformative Change

James Anderson of the Scottish investment firm Baillie Gifford plays a crucial role in the Deep Transitions project. He has not only been a driving force in realising a substantial donation to the project but can be seen as an ambassador of investments into long-term system change at the most pivotal time.

“Actual investors think in decades. Not quarters” –  Baillie Gifford

In his investment philosophy, James depicts in a comprehensible yet querying manner how current prediction and investment mechanisms have evolved. He’s pleading for breaking up old habits and moving away from committing to seemingly safe options towards embracing uncertainties and experimentation. Only then we’ll be able to overturn those dominant unsustainable practices that are deeply rooted in our mainstream markets and institutions.

 “The struggle to move into a new golden age becomes much more explicable if we acknowledge that what is churning away underneath our economies is the need for a complete re-thinking of our societies and philosophies.” – James Anderson

According to Deep Transitions project leader Johan Schot, the acceptance of uncertainties that come with investing in disruptive technologies and arguing for long-term commitment are excellent building blocks for progressing transformative change towards sustainable development and thus addressing the climate, biodiversity and inequality crises.

Professor Schot emphasises the major influence investment decisions have had during the First Deep Transition on the directionality of Great Surges of Development, for example after the Second World War, and elaborates, “I expect the same to happen for the Second Deep Transition. How investors will invest in so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence, and 3D printing to name a few will have a great impact on the world.” Whether these technologies will be used to address social and ecological issues remains a key question, he concludes.

Johan Schot hopes that academics and investment bankers can continue to collaborate in developing evidence for the Second Deep Transition and to co-create and articulate new futures for example through scenario analyses, “this will help the investment community to generate a new philosophy for transformative change, so they can become a positive force in the world.”

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