Under the bonnet – Altiorem


Altiorem is a not-for-profit library and resource centre that helps people understand the role finance must play in addressing sustainability challenges and building a better future. Launched last month, Altiorem aims to help a new generation of leaders gain a solid understanding of critical sustainability issues and their relevance to business and finance. RIAA hears from Pablo Berrutti, founder of Altiorem on the success of the platform just a few weeks in.



What prompted you to establish Altiorem? What gap in the sustainable finance space does it aim to fill?


There are many barriers to sustainable finance, but good quality and relevant information shouldn’t be one of them.


Many people working in and with the finance industry are concerned about the great sustainability challenges and excited by the opportunities! They want to take action, however, despite a wealth of information, it is often hard to find or too technical, leaving non-sustainability specialists without a clear path for connecting the issues to the actions they can take.


Altiorem, therefore, seeks to bridge the gap between the wealth of information and sustainable finance advocates. Altiorem’s free, curated, and growing database is organised around practical actions for making the case for and implementing change. In a world awash with information but with limited time, brief summaries help users develop a breadth of knowledge and dive deeper into areas of greatest interest.


What response have you had since the platform launched late last month?


We have 750 subscribers to our newsletter and just reached 250 members of the library. Now that we are up and running, we would like to see our newsletter subscribers become members, which is free, and we are also focusing on growing members through social media.


In terms of the community building the library, we have 52 volunteers, of which 32 are contributors and 18 are mentors and 2 offer strategic support in marketing and fundraising. We have already published 52 research summaries, 51 organisation profiles and 109 charts, and that is just the beginning!


What topics are most visitors to the site coming to look for, and what has been the most popular piece of research used on the site to date?


Climate change, environment and the SDGs have been trending.


Mercer’s Investing in a time of climate change: The sequel 2019 is the most popular piece of research. The report uses scenarios from the Cambridge Econometrics transition-risk climate model, to consider three scenarios; 2⁰C, 3⁰C and 4⁰C temperature increases to help investors understand how climate change can influence their investment performance in both the short and long term.


Other popular research includes the PRI’s The SDG investment case and Just Capital’s The COVID-19 Corporate Response Tracker: How America’s largest employers are treating stakeholders amid the coronavirus crisis.


What can we expect to see from Altiorem over coming months?


Altiorem’s collaborative model, similar to Wikipedia, in part relies on building relationships with leading universities who offer their students the opportunity to summarise research and work with industry professionals who mentor them through to publication. This scalable, cloud-based and networked model allows for the continuing evolution and globalisation of the library as the community grows.


We believe the model and systems we have will allow us to grow all aspects of our community, including new relationships with global universities, resulting in increased numbers of student and expert volunteers and therefore, a richer library of sustainable finance research and tools. Our next milestone is 100 research summaries, then 500 and then thousands.


We are also in the process of fundraising and are happy to have been granted DGR charity status by the ATO. We have a number of improvements we would like to make to the library including a dedicated member area and the ability for members to rate content. It is a hard time for charities given COVID-19, we are keen to meet donors who see the potential of Altiorem to accelerate change in finance.


How can RIAA members contribute or get involved?


Firstly, become a member – it is free and easy, and is the only way to access the library!


Secondly, for those who can, mentoring is a great opportunity to give back while learning. As a mentor, you provide your expertise to guide contributors (university students) to summarise sustainable finance research in an area of your speciality and interest. You can sign up here.


Donating or introducing us to potential donors would be very helpful. Please get in touch with pablo@altiorem.org to discuss, or you can make a tax deductable donation directly via Paypal.


We’d also be really grateful if RIAA members could spread the word. We know there are many people Altiorem could help who have never heard of us. We need to reach those people! Please follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter as well.




Originally published in RIAA Window – June 2020.