Water water everywhere, but not a lot to drink.
Calvert Investments realized in early 2008 that since this statement is true, it made the resource a real investment opportunity.
The company, known for its socially responsible investing strategy, launched a global water fund, which is sub-advised by KBC Asset Management International, Ltd., of Dublin, in October 2008 to capitalize on the opportunity.
“Water issues are becoming a very hot political topic,” said Jens Peers, the manager at KBC of the Calvert water fund.
“At Calvert, we believe access to water is indeed a fundamental right,” said Bennett Freeman, the senior vice president, sustainability research and policy at Calvert Group Ltd., who was in New York for a conference on the United Nations Global Compact CEO Water Mandate, a non-binding, public-private initiative launched in 2007.
The supply of fresh water is less than 1%, Peers said, but demand has been increasing exponentially because of pollution, population growth and the increase in meat consumption that competes for agricultural land.
The Calvert water fund doesn’t invest in bottled water, said Freeman, a former State Department official during the Clinton Administration. “That’s an area that troubles us,” because of the waste disposal problems the bottles present.
Peers said the fund invests in water utilities and other infrastructure such as makers of pipes, valves and pumps as well as companies that build water infrastructure, irrigation and filtration systems. Companies that engage in water-related services, such as metering and chemicals, are also part of the fund’s mix.
There are a few Chinese companies that have made their way into the fund but the majority of companies are based in the United States.
“More and more investors are looking into this space,” Peers said. The Calvert Global Water Fund has a minimum initial investment of $2,000 and subsequent minimum investments of $250.
The fund has about $15.5 million in assets with approximately 47 issues in the portfolio. Among the top ten holdings as of late last year are: Agilent Technologies Inc., American Water Works, Pentair Inc., Flowserve Corp, Suez Environment and Danaher Corp.