The Upright Project and the Quest for Net Impact

Within the period of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) integration and sustainable investing, how good are we at measuring influence?

Not very, says Annu Nieminen, founder and CEO of the Upright Project. Take carbon footprint metrics, for instance: Figuring out that one firm has twice as massive a carbon footprint as one other is principally meaningless with out context. And but, the place are the instruments that incorporate that context, amongst different components, and assist us calculate an correct and holistic influence evaluation?

On the 1st Nordic Funding Convention in Copenhagen, Nieminen guided attendees via the present challenges of calculating web influence, highlighting 4 particularly:

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  1. Present methods focus virtually solely on limiting downsides. For instance, damaging screening, or excluding blacklisted corporations and industries, with out contemplating their web influence first is a myopic strategy. “Solely minimizing the damaging or maximizing the constructive is naïve,” Nieminen mentioned.
  2. We deal with influence as if it’s not affected by scale. An excessive amount of details about secondary components can overshadow really significant information. For instance, a big firm with a horrible environmental document can create a whole advertising marketing campaign round their recycling efforts. This greenwashing diverts our consideration and leads us to view the agency as impact-positive as we ignore extra consequential components. Thus we skirt round even an approximation of the corporate’s precise web influence.
  3. We focus virtually fully on inside and upstream influence. Not often is the whole worth chain thought-about. Why? Partly, as a result of monitoring and measuring these inputs is difficult and time consuming, and so . . .
  4. Knowledge is often hidden in lengthy, esoteric sustainability experiences. Lack of knowledge consistency amid prolonged PDF paperwork, which look extra like intensive advertising brochures than information sources, add to the thriller round calculating an correct measure.

The reality is that there is no such thing as a such factor as constructive influence solely, in response to Nieminen. As an alternative, by together with the damaging information within the equation, we will, in her phrases, “convey out the influence form of an funding/fund/portfolio.”


The Upright Undertaking has developed a quantification mannequin that calculates a web influence profile of services. This mannequin is presently out there to institutional traders and B2B companies corporations. Leena-Leena, the Upright Undertaking’s web influence synthetic intelligence (AI) is accessible to the general public as properly. Customers can seek for information on tens of 1000’s of merchandise and firms. Leena-Leena additionally learns from customers, requesting suggestions based mostly on their experience, analyzing their enter, and incorporating new information into the mannequin.

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How does this quantification mannequin work? First, a taxonomy of an organization’s choices is created, then a blueprint of the corporate’s principal impacts is developed. The 2 are then overlaid on a database of 130-million scientific articles, and utilizing pure language processing (NLP) and deep neural networks, the AI produces a web influence profile.

For Nieminen, a techniques engineer and self-proclaimed nerd, and her crew of equally nerdy idealists, that they’ll create this self-improving mannequin and produce significant outcomes might have been sufficient. However the undertaking’s true influence — pun supposed — lies within the very Twenty first-century realization that income and influence needn’t be mutually unique and even unconnected penalties of distinct actions.

By utilizing the Upright Undertaking mannequin, traders cannot solely measure the complete influence of their property, but additionally decide what they’ll spend money on to satisfy particular sustainability targets and consumer wants. And so they can guarantee their investments are in sync with their monetary and influence standards on the similar time.

Within the Nordics, the place ESG is king, an AI- and NLP-powered quant mannequin has been born. The query is: Does the Upright Undertaking mannequin mark the start of an period the place web constructive influence and funding returns are in full alignment?

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All posts are the opinion of the writer. As such, they shouldn’t be construed as funding recommendation, nor do the opinions expressed essentially mirror the views of CFA Institute or the writer’s employer.

Picture courtesy of CFA Society Denmark

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Anastasia Diakaki

Anastasia Diakaki is director of constant skilled improvement content material for the EMEA area at CFA Institute.

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