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April 21, 2015
Forest Conservation Strategy Wins Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge
    by Robert Kropp

Four students from the Haas School of Business are awarded the $10 thousand grand prize for developing an institutional investment vehicle that will help alleviate drought and reduce forest fire risk.

Blue Forest Conservation Notes, a prospectus developed by four students from the Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley, has been awarded first place in this year's Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge.

The Blue Forest proposal “outlines a proactive and strategic forest thinning program that works to monetize the value forest management brings to numerous stakeholders, including public utilities and government agencies,” Morgan Stanley stated. The proposal seeks to alleviate drought and reduce the risk of forest fires in drought plagued California, while offering market rate returns for institutional investors.

The Haas School of Business is well known to many sustainable investors. Its Center for Responsible Business awards the Moskowitz Prize for Socially Responsible Investing for quantitative research in sustainable investing. The winner of the annual award is announced at the
SRI Conference on Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing.

In winning the Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge, the team from Haas prevailed over nine other finalists. Awarded second place was a team from the National University of Singapore Business School, whose CampoColombia proposal seeks to empower displaced farmers in Colombia through real estate.

Overall, Morgan Stanley reported, 380 students from 78 schools in 20 different countries submitted proposals for the competition.

“We commend all the students for creating sustainable investing concepts that combine ambitious visions for impact with a focus on financial rigor,” said Audrey Choi, CEO of the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing. “The Sustainable Investing Challenge is a call to the next generation of finance professionals to match their business acumen and investment creativity with their passion for producing a positive impact, and this year’s participants answered the call with great success.”

Collaborating with the Institute in the Challenge was the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and INSEAD Business School.

“This competition is a powerful mechanism for harnessing that interest and channeling it into creating viable solutions for some of today's pressing societal and environmental problems,” Hans Wahl, Senior Director of the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Initiative, said. “It is apparent from the impressive work of the students competing today that some of the best and brightest minds are applying themselves in this growing field.”

The Blue Forest team consisted of Zach Knight, Leigh Madeira, Chad Reed and Nick Wobbrock.

Knight, a resident of California, said, “Being able to solve an issue that's so close to home, impacting real people on a daily basis, is so important to us, and I'm glad that our passion for this project has come through today.”


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