The new Morgan Stanley Sustainable Solutions Accelerator aims to address global sustainability issues, such as climate change, social justice and plastic waste, by supporting innovators of transformative solutions.
As the coronavirus pandemic takes its toll—most acutely on vulnerable communities—and social justice movements expose institutional inequalities, individuals, corporations and governments are recognizing the need for action to address the biggest threats facing our health, economy and environment.
But many would argue large-scale solutions to the world’s major sustainability challenges aren’t coming quickly enough, and that when organizations do implement solutions, they often address isolated issues, rather than the interdependencies of larger systems.
That’s why the firm is starting a new Morgan Stanley Sustainable Solutions Accelerator, which aims to help facilitate systemic change. Through an innovation award, strategic partnerships and cross-sector collaboration, the program will identify and advance wide-ranging innovation that helps address global sustainability issues, such as climate change, social justice and plastic waste.
“The challenges that have come to the forefront this year exposed just how urgently we need to address structural issues in societal and environmental design,” says James P. Gorman, Morgan Stanley CEO and Chair of the Advisory Board for the firm’s Institute for Sustainable Investing. “The Sustainable Solutions Accelerator represents Morgan Stanley’s latest commitment to scale the solutions that drive positive, sustainable and systemic change and builds on the longstanding work of our Institute for Sustainable Investing.”
For more than a decade, Morgan Stanley has been integrating sustainability into its core businesses, spearheaded by the firm’s Global Sustainable Finance group, created in 2009. The Institute for Sustainable Investing, founded in 2013, accelerates the adoption of sustainable investing strategies across capital markets and drives environmental, social and governance initiatives at the firm. The Morgan Stanley Sustainable Solutions Accelerator builds on this momentum, by aiming to identify large-scale solutions that require resources and partnership across private and public industries and disciplines.
In its first year, the Accelerator will grant five $250,000 Sustainable Solutions Innovation Awards to develop breakthrough concepts focused on systemic solutions for global challenges. Recipients will then participate in a year-long strategic partnership with the Institute for Sustainable Investing, tapping into the full range of the firm’s experience, networks and resources to help them achieve scale and impact.
Afterward, the innovators will continue to participate as part of the Morgan Stanley Sustainable Solutions Collaborative, an ongoing brain trust of leaders focused on helping to solve some of the most pressing global sustainability issues.
Whether it’s tackling climate change, social justice or plastic waste reduction, we cannot drive global, systemic change if we persist in business-as-usual thinking.
The Accelerator will draw on the expertise of the Institute for Sustainable Investing’s Advisory Board, which includes Gorman, Harvard Business School’s Linda Hill, Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, National Academy of Sciences Fellow Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, and former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Schapiro. The Institute will establish a network of independent, external nominators who will identify the innovations with the most potential from around the world. A selection committee comprised of experts from across different industries, sectors and communities will review, evaluate and recommend finalists from among the nominees.
“Whether it’s tackling climate change, social justice or plastic waste reduction, we cannot drive global, systemic change if we persist in business-as-usual thinking,” says Audrey Choi, Morgan Stanley’s Chief Sustainability Officer and CEO of the Institute for Sustainable Investing. “Now is the time to support holistic solutions that will become the next frontier in sustainable investing.”
1. What is the Morgan Stanley Sustainable Solutions Accelerator?
The Sustainable Solutions Accelerator seeks to identify and advance breakthrough innovations that could help provide solutions to key global sustainability issues such as climate change, social justice and plastic waste. The Accelerator will provide innovators with resources from the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing and the broader Morgan Stanley network to enable innovations to achieve scale.
2. Why did Morgan Stanley start the Accelerator?
Morgan Stanley has been committed to integrating sustainability into its businesses for more than a decade, since creating its Global Sustainable Finance group in 2009 and establishing its Institute for Sustainable Investing in 2013. Now that sustainable investing has gained broad foothold in mainstream finance, Morgan Stanley is seeking to advance its progress. The Accelerator aims to catalyze a systemic approach that will become the next frontier for sustainable investing.
3. What types of support does the program provide?
The initiative will have three major elements: A Sustainable Solutions Innovation Award of $250,000 to each of five recipients; a year-long intensive partnership with Morgan Stanley; and a Sustainable Solutions Collaborative that will provide an ongoing forum for cross-sector collaboration.
4. How does an innovation get nominated?
The Institute for Sustainable Investing will be fielding nominations from a broad network of independent, external nominators who will identify the innovations with the most potential globally. A selection committee comprised of experts from across different industries, sectors and communities will review and evaluate the nominations and recommend a cohort of five finalists. Applications or unsolicited nominations and proposals will not be accepted.
5. What are the criteria for selection?
Criteria for selection include:
A. Innovative thinking that addresses sustainability challenges;
B. Potential for broad reaching systemic change;
C. Potential for impact to be significantly increased through participation in the Accelerator and Collaborative.
6. Does an innovation need to be in a certain sector or industry?
The Accelerator targets systemic solutions to complex global challenges. As a result, innovations may come from a broad range of sectors and industries.
For news about the Accelerator and other sustainability initiatives and ideas, sign up for our quarterly Institute for Sustainable Investing newsletter.