A word from Thierry Déau, Founder and CEO of Meridiam
Blending purpose and profit, we wanted to invest in projects that could be defined as essential to the communities that welcomed them, investing on a long term basis to shepherd those projects across generations as a vehicle for capacity building, job creation and improvement of quality of life.
Equally important and simultaneously, our aim was to provide competitive returns and social equity to our investors. At inception, we also fully embraced the idea that the fast-approaching climate change tipping point would be our central challenge, irreversibly transforming our planet, giving way to massive displacement of populations, and that resiliency and sustainability were paramount to risk management.
On a broader level, we understood that it was also imperative to shape our vision into an asset class. We were confident that impact and profit were not mutually exclusive, but rather the two halves of a future-facing, responsible and inclusive whole. We subsequently reached out to the roughly 70 investors across the planet who shared our long term investment specificity and invited them to join us in the creation of the Long term Infrastructure Investors Association (LTIIA), a body that would act as our collective voice on policy, and perform two extremely important tasks: provide project data that would be pooled and Independently analyzed in leading academic institutions to provide clear benchmarking data on segment return and success, and create and promote an ESG and impact blueprint providing a roadmap to resilient and sustainable infrastructure development, laying the groundwork for a pathway that presciently mirrored what would become the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG).
The triple bottom line that had historically introduced the concept of the equal importance of people, planet, and profit found a new, more urgent iteration in this opportunity to be on the solution-side of the world’s greatest challenge to a far broader investor pool through the availability of clear data on this nascent asset class’s performance.
Simultaneously, Meridiam created and implemented its own internal initiative by developing an SDG-based scoring methodology to screen future investment decision. Based on the concrete impact per project approach and best-practices benchmarking, our proprietary system determines each project’s real contribution to SDGs at the investment phase, identifies the operational area of impact improvement, takes action accordingly and monitors performance throughout the project’s investment life. Meridiam rapidly moved in the aftermath of Paris COP 21 to address climate change through a dedicated fund that develops new sustainable business models for energy efficiency, circular economy, energy network optimization and electric mobility.
The firm also focuses on supporting developing countries in achieving the intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) and their SDGs throughout Africa and Eurasia.
Fast forward nearly a decade to the present. Today, our teams find stakeholders, both current and future, to be fluent in the necessity to align investment with the framework formalized by the UNSDGs of which Meridiam was an early and full adopter. What was once a seemingly new language at the convergence point of climate change, inclusive development, capacity building, and urbanization is now a sought-after investment opportunity in its best practice form.
Within this context, we have continued to progress in the creation of a unique methodology and capacity to consistently and concretely measure the impact of work on the environment, on quality of life within the communities we work with while on providing competitive returns and social equity to our investors. We are constantly moving further forward the frontier of what can be done to support communities worldwide for a better current quality of life in the present and for future generations. Recent milestones include:
- We joined forces with the Mayenne Biogas Cogen (France) in May 2017 to develop, implement, finance, operate, and maintain a methanation plant and 3.65MW cogeneration power plant. Our 113 farmer-partners produce approximately 20% of the 25km region’s biomass, providing 99% of the project needs. In true circular economic fashion, participating farmers recover organic matter from the fermented waste, (digestate), which is used as a quality natural fertilizer.
- Together with the city of Florence we have expanded the Tramvia inner city lightrail network being to bolster social and economic development, support tourism, and enhance quality of life for people in the city. The recently opened Line 2 of the tramway provides a strong alternative to private vehicle and produced rapidly results on the reduction the number of cars during the day’s traditional strongest affluence morning tranche.
- Our four new Health Campus in Turkey serve a population of approximately 1.6 million people with hospital and healthcare facilities, including general care women’s and children’s hospitals, psychiatric units, dental care centers, with all facilities built to modern international standards.
- We are partnering wih the Rockefeller Foundation in a new approach to develop urban resilience infrastructure. The goal of this partnership is to create an industry standard for urban resilient infrastructure.
- We have been named fund manager of the International Municipal Investment Fund (IMIF) by UNCDF—a unique initiative designed to focus exclusively on supporting cities and local governments—launched by the coalition for a financial ecosystem that works for cities and local governments, with the objective of unlocking public and private finance for underserved communities by addressing the critical global challenges of climate change and urbanization.
- This year has also brought an important new milestone reinforcing the firm’s focus on blending purpose and profit. Underlining Meridiam’s commitment to progressive, systematic and strong impact measurement practices the firm will become a Benefit Corporation, one of France’s first for an asset manager.
Today, our team is 250 members strong, with a robust portfolio of 75 projects across our three investment pillars of social, mobility, and renewable energy infrastructure, each asset bringing concrete, measured impact to communities and competitive returns to our full stake-holder spectrum.
Climate Finance Day, organized by @FinForTomorrow in Paris recently provided the opportunity for an important conversation between the public and private sector on our shared vision and priorities for a +2°C world. In coming together to share experiences and shape collective solutions, we open the door for extensive, broader participation in financing a just climate transition.