Investing in New York City’s Future: Pension Fund investment in Green Infrastructure? (Guest Post)

Editor's note: The content in this post was provided by Urban Agenda, a New York City-based non-profit that is working to build a sustainable New York City – thriving, green, and just.

Gotham Gazette recenty reported on remarks made by New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. that could have a major impact on the modernization of our infrastructure and the creation of green collar jobs.  At a Crain's breakfast forum in late October, Comptroller Thompson highlighted the importance of infrastructure improvements to the city's future and suggested the need for continued funding even in the present constrained financial climate. The Comptroller announced that his office is exploring use of the city's public pension funds, the deferred wages of New York's public employees, teachers, school administrators, firemen and police officers, to invest in crucial infrastructure projects: "Such an investment could help to diversify our portfolios and further advance our fiduciary goals, in terms of return on investment, while addressing the urgent need to repair and expand our roads, bridges, power plants, and schools."

Investing workers' pension funds in improving infrastructure could be an all-around positive.  Rather than putting dollars into investments that support the short-term financial thinking behind buy-outs, downsizing and the erosion of workplace rights, infrastructure investments can support projects that benefit the communities where fund beneficiaries live and work. If infrastructure investments are strategically directed, they can finance projects like expanding mass transit, retooling power plants, and modernizing the electricity grid – projects that create well-paying, green collar jobs, while laying the groundwork for a more sustainable future.  

Gotham Gazette notes, however, that infrastructure investments are not always targeted at local projects, sometimes going into funds that invest on a global scale.  As the Comptroller's initiative develops, we will get a clearer picture of how these investments will be made and if the full potential for public pension funds to support good, green jobs in New York City is being realized.

For the Gotham Gazette article:

For the Comptroller's speech: