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The world is on fire, both figuratively and literally.
Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, for years considered the world’s most important climate goal, now seems like only a distant possibility. The world is heating up, causing sea levels to rise and land to dry out. The planet is losing 7.4 million more acres of trees every year to forest fires compared with 2001. That’s a huge and devastating leap in just over 20 years.
Technology has brought enormous wealth and enlightenment to humankind. However, the negative effects of the tech boom are also becoming clear in hindsight: increased polarization and misinformation through social media, unsustainable consumption made possible through near-frictionless credit and lending platforms, and addictive mobile apps that damage our attention spans and ability to absorb complex information. Depending on your perspective, the world being built by venture-capital-fueled Big Tech can look more like a dystopia than a utopia.
It doesn’t have to be this way. As investors, we wield enormous power and influence to shape the world that future generations will inherit from us. With intentionality and commitment, we can make a real difference. Investments in technologies for decarbonization, electrification, clean energy, healthcare, and education have the potential to improve billions of lives. By supporting entrepreneurs in emerging markets, we can drive sustainable economic growth and job creation where it is most needed.
We also know for a fact that these are billion-dollar business opportunities. At Norrsken, we’ve been investing under a strict impact framework for over half a decade. We’ve invested in nearly 100 companies addressing big global challenges like clean energy, sustainable food production, and inequality. Investments in high-impact companies such as Northvolt, Einride, and 1komma5 are on track to deliver high returns. Our first Accelerator cohort of early-stage impact startups has gone on to raise nearly 10x in capital in the two years since our initial investment.
This hasn’t been some impossible challenge, quite the opposite! We work with the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a guiding light. We only invest in companies that can demonstrate measurable impact relating to at least one of the UN goals, and in business models that ensure the level of impact will scale alongside revenue and profitability as they grow.
We’re far from alone in this. Roughly a third of the signatories of this open letter are Norrsken investors, a third represent companies that Norrsken has invested in, and a third represent wholly distinct founders or investors.
Organizations like Katapult, Fifty Years, AENU, Breakthrough Energy, 2150, Astanor, and World Fund, to name just a few, are playing a crucial role in shifting the attention of global capital towards impact. Y Combinator, the world’s biggest and most influential startup accelerator, recently posted a call for applications from climate tech startups. According to the Global Impact Investing Network, global impact investments surpassed $1 trillion for the first time in 2021.
But it’s a groundswell–and we need a revolution. Data from the OECD shows a $4.2 trillion funding gap to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
We think it’s time to make impact investing the new normal. This is a call to investors worldwide to implement impact frameworks and commit to ensuring that your money is invested into companies that generate not just financial returns, but a positive global impact alongside it.
Need help getting started? All of our documentation–how we define and measure impact, and how we evaluate companies before investing in them–is publicly available. We encourage any firm to copy it.
It works. It’ll change the world. And it will deliver returns. So why aren’t you doing it already?
Niklas Adalberth, founder, Norrsken Foundation
Funda Sezgi and Sara Kappelmark, co-CEOs, Norrsken Foundation
Jenny Keisu, founder, X-Shore
Philipp Schröder, co-founder 1Komma5
Hans Otterling, partner Northzone & founding partner, Norrsken22
Carl Manneh, co-founder Mojang
Linnea Kornehed Falck, co-founder Einride
Willard Ahdritz, founder, Kobalt Music
Eric Quidenus-Wahlforss, co-founder Soundcloud, Dance
Sofie Wahlforss-Quidenus, founder Omni:us
Susana Campbell, investor and board member, Northvolt, H2 Green Steel
Björn Öste, co-founder Oatly
Jane Walerud, co-founder Paebbl, investor Walerud Ventures
Janneke Niessen, co-founder, CapitalT VC
Fredrik Jung-Abbou, co-founder KRY, investor Norrsken Accelerator
Fabian Heilemann, founder and CEO AENU
Ash Pournouri, co-founder and investor, Norrsken Accelerator
Rapelang Rabana, founder Rekindle Learning
The opinions expressed in Fortune.com commentary pieces are solely the views of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Fortune.
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