August 2017 Newsletter

The theme of this month’s IEN newsletter is passive strategies for investing in environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria.  

Our feature article is a Q&A with Thomas Kuh, Executive Director, MSCI and Paul Schutzman, Executive Director, MSCI, and offers an overview of the significant ESG trends and developments that we should be aware of in 2017, as well as what first steps institutions that are grappling with how to approach ESG can take. The School Spotlight highlights the University System of Maryland Foundation and their seed investment in the iShares MSCI ACWI Low Carbon Target ETF, a fund that addresses two dimensions of carbon exposure – carbon emissions and fossil fuel reserves.

We are very excited to be holding a Roundtable for endowment decision-makers and stakeholders focused on low-carbon strategies and climate solutions next week, and have included more information below. Also, be sure to save the date for the 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership SummitFebruary 4-6, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona.

As always, your contributions to the conversation are welcome and needed. Please be in touch with any questions, news or ideas for the IEN.

Warm regards,

Georges, Tony, Nicole & The IEN Team

 

Feature Article: ESG Investing Trends: Common Approaches and Benchmarking

Q&A with Thomas Kuh, Executive Director, MSCI and Paul Schutzman, Executive Director, MSCI 

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In this Q&A, Thomas Kuh and Paul Schutzman, Executive Directors at MSCI, discuss the significant ESG trends and developments that we should be aware of in 2017,  some of the ESG concerns, demands and questions they hear most frequently from asset owners in the US, and what first steps institutions that are grappling with how to approach ESG can take. Read their full insights on the IEN Blog.

 

School Spotlight: University System of Maryland Foundation

University System of Maryland (USM) students have been driving change at The USM Foundation for several years. In 2013, students circulated a petition to divest from fossil fuels with nearly 600 signatures from students at Towson University, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and other colleges. In response, in 2014, along with the United Nations, the USM Foundation was a seed investor in the iShares MSCI ACWI Low Carbon Target ETF.The ETF tracks the results of the MSCI ACWI Low Carbon Target Index and addresses two dimensions of carbon exposure – carbon emissions and fossil fuel reserves. The fund was designed for individuals and institutions interested in environmental sustainability without divestment and provides transparency to the carbon footprint of their investments. On January 29th, 2015 a member of the USM Foundation investment team rang the NYSE's closing bell to officially usher in the new fund’s ticker onto the exchange.

“Being able to address socially responsible concerns while maintaining our fiduciary standards is critical to our investment approach,” said Sam Gallo, Chief Investment Officer of the University System of Maryland Foundation. “The iShares MSCI ACWI Low Carbon Target ETF is a low-cost investment solution that allows us to maintain full exposure to global equities while incorporating a carbon exposure reduction strategy.”

Read more about sustainable investing at the University System of Maryland Foundation in this article on IEN's Blog

Featured Event: 2017 Bay Area Intentionally Designed Endowment Roundtable  

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Building on the success of previous events, the Intentional Endowments Network, in partnership with the Center for Responsible Business at Berkeley-Haas and BlackRock, is pleased to host an Intentionally Designed Endowment Roundtable for endowment decision-makers and stakeholders from institutions interested in enhancing their leadership on sustainable investing. The event will focus on low-carbon strategies and climate solutions.

Tickets are still available for endowment & foundation (asset owner) representatives-- we invite you to register here(Please note that we are sold out of tickets for investment firms and companies.) To read more about the event click here, and follow this link to see the agenda.

 

Updates from the Network 

New Contributing Members

We are pleased to welcome the following organizations to the Network as contributing members: University of WinnipegThe Sant Charitable FoundationBreckinridge Capital Advisors3Sisters Sustainable ManagementSeamans Capital ManagementEastern Washington UniversityUniversity of Southern MaineMetro PartnersNatixis Asset ManagementCommunity Investment ManagementTotal Impact CapitalGreenbacker CapitalMartin Investment Management, LLCAmalgamated Bank, and Northland College. To see a full list of contributing members, click here. To learn more about the leadership opportunities and benefits of IEN membership, click here.


Webinars

In the past few months, IEN has hosted the following webinars. Follow the links below for more information and to view recordings of each:


Working Groups

IEN Working Groups meet regularly to advance key strategies in support of the network's goals. Below is a brief update of what current Working Groups have accomplished.

  • Fiduciary Duty & Policy:  This group is now focusing on a briefing paper for trustees summarizing the latest thinking on fiduciary duty and sustainable / ESG investing to be published in early fall. Group members are also contributing to the development of a Roadmap that lays out the key steps investors can take to create intentionally designed endowments, and the Group if also identifying opportunities for educating others on fiduciary duty topics at conferences and within other networks.

  • Clean Energy: This working group is currently developing a resource on how to most effectively enable endowments to make impact investments in solar PV projects. This framework will build off of the Clean Energy White Paper that was released last fall, and will provide guidance to fund managers on how endowments can approach this market.

  • Student Managed Funds: This working group connects student managed fund advisors, academics focused on sustainable investing, and students involved in student managed funds to share best practices and resources to advance sustainable investing curriculum and strategies in each fund. The Group is currently developing a toolkit on How to Start a Student-Managed Fund, and working to pull information together on different student-managed funds across the country, including information on where they are in the process of establishment and how they are managed. If your school has a student-managed fund, we would greatly appreciate your assistance in entering the fund’s information in the database. Please reach out to Nicole at nicole@intentionalendowments.org to access the database.

  • Trustee Peer Group: The Trustee Peer Group is currently focused on bringing new members into the group to create more opportunities for peer-to-peer learning among college and university fiduciaries on sustainable investing. In the next few months the group will be focusing on reaching out to more trustees to participate in the 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit. If you are interested in participating in this group, please reach out to Tony at tony@intentionalendowments.org


IEN Annual Member Survey 

Earlier this week, we sent out a survey for our Network Members to assess how effectively we are meeting the goals of the Network in accelerating and enhancing endowment leadership. This annual membership survey will inform strategic priorities and identify areas for improvement, and we are eager to gather feedback to identify ways we can improve our membership program, events, resources, and engagement. To our members, if you haven't yet filled out the survey, please do so! And to learn more about the leadership opportunities and benefits of IEN membership, click here.

Opportunities For Action

The SRI Conference Student Scholarship 
  • IEN is pleased to support The SRI Conference Student Scholarship. The scholarship is run by a group of First Affirmative Financial Network alumni and longtime affiliates to bring qualified young people to The SRI Conference. Their goal is to ensure that the culture, commitment, and competence of the pioneer SRI movement be sustained into the next generation. Applications are accepted through September 11thclick here to apply. Winners are announced in late September. For questions or additional information on this program, please contact SRIscholarship15@gmail.com

Upcoming Events

  • Five Fund Forum | Big Path Capital, September 26-28, 2017, Park City, UT (on 9/26); San Francisco, CA (on 9/27); and New York, NY (on 9/28) 
  • AASHE Conference and Expo: Stronger in Solidarity l AASHE, October 15-18, 2017, San Antonio, TX
    • IEN will be hosting a session on investing in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals and participating in a session on investing in clean energy.

To view more upcoming events, click here

Featured Resources

Below are some recent resources from the Intentional Endowments Network and other organizations. To see more reports, articles, videos and other resources by topic, visit the resource page on our website.

Resources from IEN:

Other Resources:

In the News

Below is a sampling of recent news articles we've posted on our Newsfeed, ranging in topics from Sustainable Investing, Climate Risk, Science & Regulation, Sustainability in Higher Education, Divestment, Clean Energy, and more.

IEN in the News:

Other News:


If you have an original piece you would like to submit for an upcoming newsletter, or for more information about the Intentional Endowments Network and how you can support this work, please contact Georges Dyer at georges@intentionalendowments.org.