Skip to content
Opinion
Karen Petrou

How to Make the 'S' in ESG More Relevant

New financial instruments backed, at least at first, by a federal guarantee can spur promising medical research and other social-welfare goals.

The bond market is coming for medical research.

The bond market is coming for medical research.

Photographer: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Environment, social and governance investing is all the rage, but most all investment goes into the “E” and, to a lesser extent, the “G” and not the “S.” We neglect social-welfare investment at grave risk and for no good reason. But there is a way to quickly change this by making ESG meaningful for an urgent social good: speeding treatment and even cure for diseases and disability.

Even before the pandemic, biomedical research was advancing too slowly and often without regard to critical, unmet needs. Covid-19 has seriously delayed promising research across the spectrum of disease and disability. In just one case, a major study finds that the pandemic threatens "the viability of cancer research as a whole.” New financial instruments backed, at least at first, by a federal guarantee can reverse this disastrous trend.