Shareholder activism for sustainability

How can we take shareholder activism to a new level as a force for global sustainability?

Millions of people are shareholders, and therefore owners, of corporations around the world. Shareholder activism, where shareholders influence a company’s behaviour by exercising their rights as owners, holds great potential for conservation. However, much activism has focussed on issues of governance and short-term economic gains, with significant implications for environmental sustainability.


This Luc Hoffmann Institute, in collaboration with SustainAbility and the University of Zurich, aims to innovate thinking and practice on the issue of activist shareholding and the environment. It seeks to support new networks for collaboration and research, increase information sharing on existing and emerging ideas and promote best practices on shareholder activism for sustainability for a global impact.

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25 May 2018

A convening on “Activist shareholder impacts on corporate sustainability” is held in Gland, to improve overall understanding of the issue, identify pathways for influence, and find a shared agenda for action, with participants from multiple horizons (MAVA foundation, IUCN, WWF, The University of Zurich, etc.).


Renewed vigour in the movement to engage shareholders to vote for sustainability at corporate shareholder meetings, and the emergence of a champion – an individual or an organisation – to continue to drive activist shareholder policy and practice toward sustaining biodiversity.

Timeline ends here

Related resources

Unleashing people power
A January 2019 thought piece by Elisabeth Losasso, consultant with the Luc Hoffmann Institute.

Sustainable investing is growing – should we be excited?
A November 2018  thought piece by Julian Kölbel, Post-Doctoral Researcher at the University of Zurich.

Exploring the Impacts of Shareholder Activism on Sustainability
A May 2018 report by SustainAbility in collaboration with the Luc Hoffmann Institute, building on the earlier Shareholder activism: standing up for sustainability analysis.

Owning capitalism
An April 2018 thought piece by Adrian Dellecker, Head of Strategy and Development (ad-interim) at the Luc Hoffmann Institute.

Shareholder activism: standing up for sustainability
An April 2018 analysis  by the Luc Hoffmann Institute that examines the current landscape and highlights opportunities, risks and challenges of shareholder activism for sustainability.