Weekly News Round-Up: March 17th, 2017

Opportunities for Action

Launching the Investment for Impact Research Prize l University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business

  • The Center for Responsible Business at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business has just launched a $5,000 research prize for work on the role of impact investment aimed at improving society or the environment. The deadline for submitting papers is 11:59 PM Pacific time on April 3, 2017.  A distinguished panel of judges will select the winning paper in late June 2017 and publicly award the prize in September. The competition is open to studies from all disciplines tied to business, economics, law, public policy, or other social sciences. Unpublished working papers suitable for publication in peer-reviewed journals are eligible, as well as papers published in peer-reviewed journals in or after 2016.
  • The Put A Price On It campaign is seeking endorsements from college and university presidents in support of carbon pricing, as an effective and pragmatic solution to climate change. The campaign, led by the non-profit Our Climate and the National Geographic series Years of Living Dangerously, works with student leaders across the country to build support for carbon pricing, and elevates the importance of the policy through film, celebrity endorsements, and social media. The president endorsement letter can be found online here, and questions can be directed to Page Atcheson at page@ourclimate.us
 
 
Upcoming Events
 
Superbugs & Super Risks: The Investment Case for Action l Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (FAIRR) Initiative, March 20th, 2017, 3:30 - 6:00 p.m. EST, New York, NY
  • The FAIRR Initiative is pleased to invite members of the IEN community to join them for an event on antibiotic resistance and investment risk in New York City on Monday March 20th 2017, kindly hosted by BlackRock. The event will be a forum for investors to learn more about the material risks associated with this issue, to explore strategies to identify and manage these risks, and to share investor and company perspectives on opportunities and challenges in addressing resistance. RSVP by emailing events@fairr.org
Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference 2017 l University of Maryland, March 26-28, 2017, College Park, MD
  • IEN members will be presenting a panel session on "Higher Ed Endowments & The Paris Climate Agreement" 
Impact Investing Forum 2017 l Opal Group, April 23, 2017 - April 25, 2017, Boca Raton, FL
  • The Impact Investing Forum will look at many of the asset classes that encompass this space. Themes of defining impact investing, portfolio construction, asset class opportunities, and the role of the investor will be covered at this event. This conference will exclusively feature dialogue driven panel discussions led by consultants and family offices.
The Impact Capitalism Summit l Big Path Capital, April 25-26, 2017, Chicago, IL
  • The Impact Capitalism Summit is the Largest Convening of Impact Investors Globally. This year at the Impact Capitalism Summit in Chicago we will explore the progress of leading impact investment portfolios, discover the latest innovations across sectors, themes and asset classes, and identify the steps needed to harness the power of capital markets to build a sustainable, fair and just economy where opportunity and prosperity are shared by all.

Ceres Conference 2017: Sustainability is the Bottom Line, Inspiring Action l Ceres, April 26-27. 2017, San Francisco, CA

  • Across the globe, leading investors and corporations are accelerating innovative sustainable solutions that are building long-term value, while protecting the health of our planet and the economy. The Ceres Conference will bring together leaders who are catalyzing the biggest breakthroughs on sustainability issues and recognize that, regardless of political headwinds, sustainability is the bottom line.
New Reports
 
  • For anyone with an interest in real estate or sustainability, this report will give insights about how the asset class has performed and is expected to perform in an era of uncertainty about climate change policy
 
 
Sustainable / ESG Investment
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how getting BlackRock to commit to a stronger position on climate change ironically took the threat of a public vote on the issue at its own shareholder meeting; Calpers will back more proxy solicitations on climate risk; Northern Trust sees demand for ESG REITs; Prudential Financial Vice Chairman Mark Grier on the firm's plan for $1 billion in impact investments; Companies are focused more on measuring social effort than effect, an NYU study shows.
European Parliament Passes ESG-Boosted Shareholder Rights Directive (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • The plenary session of the European Parliament has today passed legislation to amend the EU Shareholder Rights Directive with an ESG-driven focus, after the so-called ‘trialogue’ agreement reached in December 2016 between the EU law-making institutions. The resolution passed by 646 votes to 39, with 13 abstentions. The final compromise text between the EP, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union aims at promoting long-term shareholder engagement and touches on core corporate governance and stewardship issues.
Inside the Big Business of Investing in Supply Chains l Green Biz
  • This article, which is an excerpt from the State of Green Business 2017 report, examines the financial and societal opportunities of embedding sustainable practices into supply chain management. Published by GreenBiz in partnership with Trucost, the full report provides a global view of the year's trends in sustainable business. 
Why and How Investors Use ESG Information: Evidence from a Global Survey l Harvard Business School
  • Survey data from more than 400 senior investment professionals provides insights into why and how investors use ESG information as well as the challenges in using this information. This study also documents what investors believe will be important ESG styles in the future.
  • Some of Europe's biggest asset managers have been called out by a pressure group for failing to be clear about fees, and being uncommunicative on responsible investment issues, such as the way they vote at company AGMs. The UK lobby group ShareAction conducted research on 40 managers overseeing €21 trillion ($22.3 trillion) between them, ranking them out of 90 on responsible investment criteria.
  • A recent report just out finds striking variation in both the performance and the transparency of the largest asset managers operating in Europe. Research conducted by ShareAction, a non-profit group in the U.K. that campaigns for responsible investment, ranks the 40 mega-managers who, between them, invest over €21 trillion ($22.4 trillion) on behalf of pension schemes, charities, universities, and individuals across the world. All of them bar one - - Santander Asset Management - are signatories to the PRI. 
Five ESG Stocks Poised For Big Turnarounds l Forbes
  • This article lists five companies that score well on ESG practices and also have strong elements of a turnaround in their financial performance. Many of these are higher-quality companies already, and so their valuations tend not to be overly discounted but still offer attractive upside potential.
Investing in ‘Sustainable Democracy’ l Barron's
  • The Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision opened the floodgates to corporate political contributions. For that reason, socially responsible investors should favor companies that provide political spending transparency, have policies governing how they donate and have strong board oversight of managements’ campaign contributions. To learn how companies rate in terms of “sustainable democracy,” go to the Center for Political Accountability (CPA) website. CPA examines the websites of S&P 500 companies to gauge whether they have 24 qualities pertaining to campaign contributions. 
UK: Sustainable Investment And ESG Compliance ─ Emerging Litigation l MONDAQ
  • There is an increasing desire amongst PE firms to publicise value creation through the use of bespoke metrics to measure improvements and value derived from ESG policies including improved reputational risk management; better and more transparent governance; better health, environmental and safety standards; heightened efficiency; less disruption as a result of sanctions and protest; etc. here is more to this evolving area than simply general compliance and being a good corporate citizen. Real reputational, legal, political and financial consequences can arise from failing to align business practice with ESG statements and policies.
Five ESG Stocks Poised For Big Turnarounds l Forbes
  • Listed in this article are five companies that score well on ESG practices and also have strong elements of a turnaround in their financial performance. Many of these are higher-quality companies already, and so their valuations tend not to be overly discounted but still offer attractive upside potential.
  • One concern that frequently arises among those new to sustainable investing is performance, specifically whether investors have to sacrifice returns if they invest sustainably. There is no good evidence of any significant performance difference between sustainable and non-sustainable mutual funds, as Morningstar director of sustainability research Jon Hale has noted in a couple of recent studies. Similarly, an article from 2012 surveys the academic literature showing no significant performance penalty for sustainable funds.
ESG/SRI Investing: Can Investors Have Their Cake and Eat it too? l Community Capital Management
  • Despite SRI's growing popularity, some investors have voiced their concern regarding a returns trade-off.  ESG investors and managers, including the 1,500 signatories of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, will point to numerous studies showing that returns need not be sacrificed when investing in ESG issues. However, it appears that some still need convincing.  This past month, the California Public employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) announced a request for asset managers to show historical performances of ESG investing in order to prove outperformance of cap-weighted benchmarks or benchmark.
RI Interview: Rhode Island’s Seth Magaziner on Long-Term Investing, Trump and Proxy Voting (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • Seth Magaziner was elected General Treasurer of the state of Rhode Island, in charge of, among other things, its $7.5bn public pension fund in January 2015. In this interview, Magaziner talks about what it was like to move from Trillium Asset Management to become Treasurer for Rhode Island, proxy voting, and Rhode Island's fund performance.

Shareholder Engagement
 
  • BlackRock Inc, which wields outsized clout as the world's largest asset manager, planned on Monday to put new pressure on companies to explain themselves on issues including how climate change could affect their business as well as boardroom diversity. The move could bolster efforts like climate-risk disclosure practices developed by the Financial Stability Board, the international body that monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system. BlackRock's top "engagement priorities" for meetings this year with corporate leaders include climate risk and boardroom diversity.
  • A shareholder resolution calling on Royal Dutch Shell to set greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets, promoted by the NGO Follow This, has seen growing support from leading investors. According to one investor, “Last year the resolution was a bit prescriptive and too much focused on renewables. There are other ways in which Shell can align with the Paris Agreement outcomes. It’s not up to investors to decide it. This year however, we appreciate that Follow This have consulted us about the initiative and feel comfortable about it because the text aligns with our goals.”
  • A coalition of institutional investors, including many Catholic religious orders and the CoE Church Commissioners, who have four trillion dollars under management, led by New York State Comptroller Thomas P DiNapoli, as trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund (CRF), and the Church Commissioners for England, have again asked ExxonMobil to disclose how it will ensure its business will remain resilient as global efforts to mitigate climate change proceed. The CRF and the Church Commissioners filed a similar proposal for consideration at Exxon's 2016 annual meeting. Despite Exxon's unsuccessful attempt to exclude the proposal from a vote at the meeting, it received support from 38.2% of voting shareholders, a record for a climate change resolution at the company.
 
 
Impact Investing
 
  • Sustainable investing - a common catchall term for socially responsible, ESG, and impact investing - has become sufficiently mainstream so it isn't a great idea for an investment advisor to say, "We don't do that," said Jon Hale, head of sustainability research for Morningstar Investment Management. "Conversely, advisors who make it a specialty will be gaining a valuable differentiator." To help advisors learn about what can appear to be a daunting topic, Hale presented four keys for sustainable investing success at IMCA's 2017 Investment Advisor Forum.
Impact Investing Growing Among Alternative Managers l Private Wealth
  • Impact investing is growing in importance among the alternative investing community, according to a new survey by the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association.The CAIA survey showcases the tailwinds driving impact investing’s growth: 77% of respondents to the survey agree that responsible investing is more important than it was three years ago, while 78% anticipate it will be more important three years from now
Green Bonds
  • Crédit Agricole CIB is pleased to announce the completion of Premium Green 2017-2, a $3 billion synthetic risk transfer related to the bank's portfolio of project finance and object finance loans. This transaction is a first-of-its-kind Green Capital Note, blending best practices from capital management with the objectives of socially responsible investing. Mariner Investment Group, through its IIFC platform, has purchased notes corresponding to the $3 billion Structured Finance portfolio through two of its managed funds, bringing Mariner's overall transaction volume to more than $8.2 billion in synthetic securitization risk transfer.
Corporate Governance
 
Board of Directors Compensation: Past, Present and Future l Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation
  • There has been a massive shift in how outside Board Directors have been paid over the past 20 years. This has largely been fueled by changes in corporate governance practices over time. Overall, the shift has been away from paying Directors like executives and towards paying outside experts for their time and contributions during their term of service.
Fiduciary Duty
 
Why Investors Have Fiduciary Duty for the Environment l GreenBiz
  • The sustainable investing tide will rise ever higher in 2017 as more investors incorporate sustainability criteria into equity shareholder issues and consider sustainability criteria as part of corporate lending and credit risk. The net effect for corporations? Greater scrutiny and use of environmental disclosure data, as investors aim to uncover quantifiable links among environmental performance, risk and company value. Businesses and investors are increasingly aware of climate-related risks, whether it is the physical impacts (water scarcity or rising sea level) or policy risks if a carbon- or water-intensive asset becomes subject to policies or regulations that would make the asset less valuable, or "stranded."
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
  • California pension giants CalPERS and CalSTRS and their New York peers are among 1,000 investors and corporates that have today taken full-page ads in US newspapers including the Washington Post urging President Trump to support low-carbon policies and stay in the Paris climate accord. Signatories include not only the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the California State Teachers Retirement System and the New York City Comptroller’s Office and the New York State Common Retirement Fund but also investors such as Wespath Benefits and Investments and many others too numerous to mention.
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently launched a campaign dubbed ‘BreatheLife’ to make people more aware about the fact that air pollution – which it calls the invisible killer – is a major health and climate risk. WHO says more than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed the normal limits. They note that while all regions of the world are affected, populations in low-income cities are the most impacted.
A Makeover for the World's Most Hated Crop l Nature
  • Oil palm has a reputation as an environmental menace. Can the latest genetic research change that? Orion Biosains technicians are testing plant shoots to send growers a report on the quality of their young plants. If adopted on a large scale, the test could raise industry revenue by about US$4 billion per year. And, importantly, it could do so without expanding plantations. “We can get more oil for an equivalent area of land — this could help take the pressure off deforestation."
  • EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said on CNBC “I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do, and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” This is consistent with Pruitt’s previous public statements and writings on climate change. Mr. Pruitt has a lot of science homework to do if he is to make good on his oath and bring his science grade up to a passing level.
Shell Oilsands Divestment Shows Carbon Tax Will be Opposition Cudgel for Years to Come l Edmonton Sun
  • News broke this week that Shell was selling almost all of its oilsands assets in Alberta province. With Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. buying most of Shell's assets, one thing it does mean is that Canadian firms now dominate the oilsands. It's worth examining why Shell left, just as much as it's worth asking why CNRL chose to make such a big investment in the oilsands, said Andrew Leach, a professor of economics at the University of Alberta, and one of the architects of the province's Climate Leadership Plan, which included a carbon tax. "CNRL certainly sees enough value to, for all intents and purposes, bet their company on this transaction," he said.
General Higher Education Endowments News
 
  • In a white paper published this month by the TIAA Institute, it is argued that grouping endowments by size makes for poor benchmarks of endowment performance. According to the report, the practice disregards key differences in goals and objectives among similarly sized endowments -- and can even result in worse performance outcomes.
University of Michigan Endowment Banks on Funds That Make Loans l Bloomberg
  • The University of Michigan is betting its endowment can make money on loans to small businesses from Barcelona to Beijing. The endowment, valued at $10.5 billion as of Dec. 31, has added more managers who specialize in lending -- through private credit, distressed and other forms of debt -- according to annual reports and other public documents. The strategy accounted for about 30 percent of new managers the endowment invested with in the year through June 30. The board of regents approved commitments of about $400 million to these managers.
  • The $10.5 billion University of Michigan endowment is making a big bet on small business lenders worldwide. In an expanded strategy to access the global private lending market, the endowment has added new managers who would account for 30% of all the endowment’s managers specializing in private credit, distressed and other forms of debt. In total, the new managers would receive $400 million. The endowment did not release how many new managers were hired or their names.
Dartmouth Taps Wealth Manager Ruth to Run $4.5 Billion Endowment l Bloomberg
  • Dartmouth College hired wealth manager Alice Ruth as chief investment officer overseeing the Ivy League school’s $4.5 billion endowment. Ruth, 55, an alum who’s a member of Dartmouth’s investment committee, will succeed Pamela Peedin in April, the college said Monday in a statement. Peedin in November announced her plan to step down after six years as head of Dartmouth’s 13-person investment office.
University of California Endowment Doubles Private Equity in New Asset Allocation l Pensions & Investment
  • University of California Board of Regents' investment subcommittee approved on Tuesday changes to the long-term target asset allocation of its $10.3 billion endowment, which included a significant increase to private equity and reduction to public equity.
Berkeley Investing Chief Steps Down From $1.6 Billion Endowment l Bloomberg Brief
  • The University of California Berkeley started a search for a chief investment officer to oversee its $1.6 billion endowment after John-Austin Saviano announced his departure. Saviano, who was hired in 2009 when Berkeley established a management company to oversee investments for its foundation, will step down in the coming weeks, Jose Rodriguez, a spokesman for the school, said this week.
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment on Campuses
 
  • Building on Columbia’s longstanding commitment to addressing climate change, the University’s Trustees have voted to support a recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing (ACSRI) to divest from companies deriving more than 35% of their revenue from thermal coal production and to participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Climate Change Program.
  • As a part of the February 2017 meeting, the Mount Holyoke Board of Trustees spent some time discussing the College’s endowment performance, including the question of divestment of fossil fuel funds from portfolio of holdings. The College’s investment advisors, Cambridge Associates, provided a presentation and updated the Board on the status of the investments, as well as their ongoing evaluation of all current and potential portfolio managers regarding how they are incorporating environmental sustainability in their investment decisions. While the Board took no vote on divestment, they plan to determine  position this academic year and will share our decision widely with the College community.
  • The UC has been divesting and will continue to divest from Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics, two companies involved in the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, according to CIO Jagdeep Bachher. Bachher, however, noted that the decision was purely economic. He stated that the “headline risks, social risks, and environmental risks” of these investments would erode the financial returns. “We do not divest in our office,” Bachher said during the meeting. “The world is complicated and you have to incorporate thinking about sustainable investing as part of your investment decision making, not as some isolated, headline-grabbing event.”
  • Efforts are afoot to put divestment motions on the floor at teachers union meetings as OTPP continues to pour a hefty $24.8 billion of its $170 billion in total retirement holdings into oil, coal and natural gas projects.
University of Winnipeg Students Push School to go Fossil-Fuel Free l Winnipeg Free Press
  • Divest UWinnipeg is advocating for the University of Winnipeg to divest from fossil fuels. To date the university administration had offered to investigate the idea and present its finding to the board of regents at the school, which has the ability to direct the school’s endowment fund to divest.
Sarasin to Re-Tender for Climate Mandate as Bristol University Divests Fossil Fuels (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • Long-term incumbent fund manager Sarasin & Partners says it plans to re-tender for a climate change-aware mandate at Bristol University as the academic institution seeks to divest from fossil fuels. Bristol University in western England became the latest to join the fossil fuel divestment campaign which has seen a reported 43 UK universities, representing £10.7bn in assets, divest.
Divest Concordia Stopped From Mobilizing l The Concordian
  • Student members of Concordia University's divestment movement protested outside the Board of Governors (BOG) meeting last week as a means to push the BOG to put fossil fuel divestment on their agenda. However, Divest members were met with Concordia security, who blocked access to the entrance of the fourth floor of the GM building.
  • National University of Ireland Galway has officially committed to divest from fossil fuel shares by the end of 2017. The Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Society had submitted a petition of over 1,000 signatures, and a report highlighting the case for divestment of the €3.4 million worth of shares that NUI Galway has invested in companies such as Gazprom and Statoil in late November. This report was welcomed by University President Dr James Browne, who highlighted divestment of fossil fuel shares is in line with the values held by NUI Galway with regards to sustainability.
 
Divestment in Other Sectors
 
  • Norwegian mutual insurer and pension fund manager KLP has excluded four companies involved in the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) joint venture: Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), Phillips 66, Enbridge Inc. and Marathon Petroleum Corporation. This decision came after a recent statement by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples that the approval of the DAPL was granted “without an adequate social, cultural or environmental assessment” and in “the absence of meaningful consultation or participation by the tribes”. KLP has published a fourteen-page document explaining the rationale for excluding the companies. It said it has engaged the companies and that they haven’t announced any intention to halt the construction in response to the UN Special Rapporteur’s statement.
  • At last night's city council meeting, Berkeley officials voted unanimously to divest of any company that involves itself with President Trump's border wall. This includes not just contractors who construct the proposed divider, but any company that designs, finances, or works in any way on the project. Berkeley is the first city in the country to pass such a law.
San Francisco Moves To Divest $1.2B From Companies Financing Dakota Access Pipeline l CDB San Francisco Bay Area
  • The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday in support of efforts to divest from banks financing the Dakota Access Pipeline. The board approved a resolution introduced by Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer urging City Treasurer Jose Cisneros to add the Dakota Access Pipeline to the list of screening factors he considers when making city investment decisions.
Investment Manager News
 
  • Morgan Stanley Wealth Management today announced the launch of two sustainable investing model portfolios with reduced account minimums of $10,000 on its Investing with Impact platform. These new portfolios – Investing with Impact Access Balanced and Investing with Impact Access Equity – will provide investors with diversified goal-specific solutions to help align financial goals with personal values.
  • Early-stage investing in emerging markets is hard. A commitment to serve low-income customers makes it even more challenging. Scaling that up around the world? Next to impossible. In this article, Capria Network discusses why they think they've cracked the code. With its latest $2 million in investments in early-stage impact funds in west Africa, South Africa, Colombia and Brazil, the Seattle investment firm now has stakes in nine emerging market fund managers investing in businesses providing low and lower-middle income customers in emerging markets with life- and environment-enhancing products and services. 
Add your reaction Share

Weekly News Round-Up: March 10th, 2017

Upcoming Events
 
Superbugs & Super Risks: The Investment Case for Action l Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (FAIRR) Initiative, March 20th, 2017, 3:30 - 6:00 p.m. EST, New York, NY
  • The FAIRR Initiative is pleased to invite members of the IEN community to join them for an event on antibiotic resistance and investment risk in New York City on Monday March 20th 2017, kindly hosted by BlackRock. The event will be a forum for investors to learn more about the material risks associated with this issue, to explore strategies to identify and manage these risks, and to share investor and company perspectives on opportunities and challenges in addressing resistance. RSVP by emailing events@fairr.org
  • Join moderator Janine Guillot of SASB, and panelists Robert Herz, former Chairman of FASB, Rakhi Kumar of State Street Global Advisors, Malcolm Ryerse of Columbia Threadneedle Investments for a roundtable discussion aimed to help attendees gain a broader understanding of why investors care about ESG info and how investors use the information.
Webinar: Mission-Aligned Investing: What New Positive Deviance Research Can Tell Us About What Moves Institutional Investors to Action l Intentional Endowments Network, March 15, 2017, 12:00 - 1:00 PM ET
  • Dr. Abigail Abrash Walton of Antioch University New England will share research findings related to mission-aligned investing, leadership, and the decision-making process to divest from fossil fuels by philanthropic organizations with assets under management from $5 million to $1 billion. We will explore what factors supported decision makers in moving to mission-aligned investing while simultaneously exercising their fiduciary duty to steward institutional assets. 
Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference 2017 l University of Maryland, March 26-28, 2017, College Park, MD
  • IEN members will be presenting a panel session on "Higher Ed Endowments & The Paris Climate Agreement" 
Impact Investing Forum 2017 l Opal Group, April 23, 2017 - April 25, 2017, Boca Raton, FL
  • The Impact Investing Forum will look at many of the asset classes that encompass this space. Themes of defining impact investing, portfolio construction, asset class opportunities, and the role of the investor will be covered at this event. This conference will exclusively feature dialogue driven panel discussions led by consultants and family offices.
The Impact Capitalism Summit l Big Path Capital, April 25-26, 2017, Chicago, IL
  • The Impact Capitalism Summit is the Largest Convening of Impact Investors Globally. This year at the Impact Capitalism Summit in Chicago we will explore the progress of leading impact investment portfolios, discover the latest innovations across sectors, themes and asset classes, and identify the steps needed to harness the power of capital markets to build a sustainable, fair and just economy where opportunity and prosperity are shared by all.
 
 
New Resources
 
  • America’s colleges and universities are positioned to lead the transition to 100 percent renewable energy, according to a report released today by Environment America Research & Policy Center. The report stresses that a complete shift to clean, renewable energy is the best way for colleges and universities to achieve their carbon reduction goals and highlights schools across the country that are taking measures to make the transition to renewable energy.
Systems-Level Considerations and the Long-Term Investor: Definitions, Examples, and Actions l The Investment Integration Project (TIIP)
  • This Occasional Paper from The Investment Integration Project (TIIP) addresses the question of how asset owners and managers can identify environmental, societal and financial systems-level issues relevant to their investment processes. Integration of these systems-level considerations can help investors manage long-term risks and rewards while seeking competitive portfolio-level returns.
The Global Risks Report 2017 l World Economic Forum
  • The Global Risks Report 2017 features perspectives from nearly 750 experts on the perceived impact and likelihood of 30 prevalent global risks as well as 13 underlying trends that could amplify them or alter the interconnections between them over a 10-year timeframe.
 
 
Sustainable / ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights Bloomberg's first ever ranking of U.S. funds with a sustainability bias; Mariner Investment Group's new impact deal aimed at freeing up bank capital for green loans; Iona Capital raising a bioenergy fund; the potential for Saudi Aramco's green energy push to widen its IPO appeal?; and an exploration into the best paid maternity and paternity leaves in financial services.
  • Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath) is a non-profit agency of The United Methodist Church with fiduciary responsibility for the benefit plans it administers and the assets it invests. Over the past two years, as this report illustrates, they have made considerable progress in their sustainable investment approach. They have made new investments in companies that they believe will support the transition to a low-carbon economy while providing diversification to their funds. They intensified our shareholder engagement on critical ESG issues with companies —and successfully created positive change. 
Responsible Investing Growing in Importance Driven by Ethical Principals, Institutional Investor Demands, and Business Opportunities, Says New Survey from CAIA and Adveq l Business Wire
  • Responsible investing, including the incorporation of ESG factors and ethical principles, is growing in importance in the alternative investment management industry, driven by ethical principles, constituent demands, and new business opportunities, according to a new survey conducted by the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association, and Adveq, a global institutional private equity investor. More than three quarters (77%) of respondents to the survey agree Responsible Investing is more important than it was three years ago, while 78% anticipate it will be more important three years from now.
Impact Investing in the Age of President Trump l Investment News
  • It's too soon to tell what effect the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency will have on impact investing. But if implemented, Mr. Trump's policies could have a profound effect on issues near and dear to a growing number of investors: the environment, social issues and corporate governance. In the age of President Trump, investor pressure may help to offset relaxed governmental regulations on the nation's companies and industries.
Asset Manager Put a Statue of a Defiant Girl in Front of the Wall Street Bull to Raise Awareness of Lack of Women on Boards l Business Insider
  • The world's third-largest asset manager installed a bronze statue of a defiant girl in front of Wall Street's iconic charging bull statue on Tuesday morning as part of its new campaign to pressure companies to add more women to their boards. State Street Global Advisors, a nearly $2.5 trillion investor and unit within State Street Corp., is rolling out the campaign ahead of International Women's Day on Wednesday.
Graduate Students from 15 Countries Vie for Sustainable Investing Challenge l Just Means
  • The 7th annual Kellogg-Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge announces 10 finalist teams chosen from 196 students at 37 schools around the world. Each year, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and Morgan Stanley's Institute for Sustainable Investing present the Kellogg-Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge. The aim is to provide inspiration and incentive for graduate students to innovate conventional financing and investment tools – or even devise new ones – in ways that could address environmental, social and governance problems.
Trump Could be Fueling SRI l IR Magazine
  • U.S. President Donald Trump is seemingly indirectly encouraging some investors to focus more on impact investments and SRI in the US. Robert Johnson, president and CEO of the American College of Financial Services, a nonprofit private educational institution, forecasts the election of Trump to be a ‘boom for impact and socially responsible investing.’
  • The online brokerage Motif lets you invest in various themes — such as “battling cancer,” which includes biotech companies developing cancer drugs and innovations, or “healthy and tasty,” which invests in companies that sell organic and farm-raised foods. Despite the increasing interest in impact investing, the CEO of Motif told Yahoo Finance “this product wouldn’t have launched if Trump hadn’t gotten elected.” Walia has seen a surge in interest in sustainable investing and smart money since Trump got elected. It appears that now, more than ever, people are realizing that their money speaks volumes.
Analysis: International Women’s Day: RI’s Investment, Research and Policy Round-Up (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • To mark International Woman’s Day, Responsible Investor profiles some of the latest research, products and policies focused on gender diversity issues.
  • While responsible investment continues to gain momentum in the hedge fund sector, progress is slow. This is due to prevailing misconceptions surrounding both RI and hedge funds. Investors with limited knowledge of RI practices still think it’s all about ‘socially responsible investing’ or ‘ethical investing’ and many believe that RI is only about positive or negative screening.
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation

  • Science-based policies and regulations have resulted in tremendous gains in environmental quality and reduced the population’s exposure to harmful pollutants. In the United States, the gains have been driven by major laws that were passed and amended by Republican and Democratic administrations alike. The intended policy directions described to date by President Donald Trump and his appointees, and likely to be supported by Republicans in Congress, raise concern about future environmental regulations and protection. The authors' of this article outline the scientific evidence that provides the foundation for environmental protection and underscores the necessity, enshrined in U.S. environmental laws, of protecting human health.
As Trump Talks Coal Revival, China Seeks Props on the Fuel's Decline l Marketplace
  • We now have three years of data points on where China’s coal and carbon emissions are heading: downward. It may have to do with China’s economy becoming less energy-intensive as it moves away from infrastructure and heavy industry. It may also have something to do with policy. Beijing has shuttered coal plants already in construction. And renewables use is growing to nearly 20 percent of the country’s energy mix. Despite what President Donald Trump plans on energy and climate deregulation, most other countries are moving toward decarbonizing.
Australia Must Put a Price on Carbon, Say Institutional Investors l The Guardian
  • The Turnbull government needs to put a price on carbon to unlock new investment in the electricity sector and drive an orderly transition to low-emissions power sources, according to the Investor Group on Climate Change. The group, which represents major institutional investors in Australia and New Zealand, has used its submission to the Finkel review to argue that the government’s oft-repeated concerns about network reliability, energy affordability and emissions reductions will be addressed if concrete steps are taken to unlock new investment.
  • Norway's Sovereign Wealth Fund (which holds 1.3 per cent of the entire world's listed equity) is threatening companies around the world found guilty of a raft of unethical practices — including heavy polluting, corruption and human rights — abuses with divestment. Firms under scrutiny cover telecoms, defense, energy, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, labour recruitment and textile industries.

Clean Energy

University of Mississippi Offsets Electricity Use with Renewable Energy Certificates l Ole Miss University of Mississippi News

  • The University of Mississippi has offset a portion of the electricity it uses through the purchase of renewable energy certificates. The purchase, which came about as a recommendation of the UM Energy Committee, allows the university to lower its carbon footprint, support the development of renewable energy technologies and practice resource stewardship, a tenet of the UM Creed.
Why US President's Fossil Friendliness Could Fuel a Brighter Future in Green Energy Sector l The Independent
  • Eyebrows may have been raised worldwide by Donald Trump's selection of oil-drilling advocate Rick Perry as his energy secretary, and of climate-change sceptic Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. But, these and other fossil-fuel-friendly picks may actually lead to investment opportunities in renewable energy and sustainable natural resources. Any drop in funding from political sources represents an opportunity for investors to bridge the gap. As a result, Mr Trump's election and his climate-change-sceptic cabinet may increase the role of pension schemes and other institutional investors in this area.
Shell CEO Urges Switch to Clean Energy as Plans Hefty Renewable Spending l Reuters
  • The oil and gas industry risks losing public support if progress is not made in the transition to cleaner energy, Royal Dutch Shell Plc Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said on Thursday. The world's second largest publicly-traded oil company plans to increase its investment in renewable energy to $1 billion a year by the end of the decade, van Beurden said, although it is still a small part of its total annual spending of $25 billion.
 
General Higher Education News
 
Why Small to Midsize Endowments Shouldn't Follow the Ivy League l Pensions & Investments
  • Large endowments, admired for their asset allocation strategies and long-term approaches, are often touted as the ideal model for other endowments. However, as evidenced by the 2016 NACUBO Commonfund Study of Endowments, small and midsize endowments need to take a different approach or risk continuing to see negative returns.
Simon Fraser University Launches Community-Developed 20-Year Sustainability Vision and Goals l SFU News
  • After a year-long envisioning process, SFU students, faculty, staff and senior leadership joined President Andrew Petter to launch the University’s finalized 20-Year Sustainability Vision and Goals. The vision includes ambitious plans for SFU to be a globally recognized leader in sustainability, move towards 100 per cent renewable energy sources, become a zero-waste university and more.
Hood College Receives Almost $2 million Endowment for Biofuels Professor l The Frederick News Post
  • A near $2 million endowment will be used to help Hood College continue developing its biology department and build collaborations with the biotech industry. The college recently received $944,000 under a matching endowment for the “Endowed Chair in Advanced Bioproducts Research and Education” from the Maryland Department of Commerce.
Could Exits From Harvard Fund Spur Investment Startups? l Boston Globe
  • In 2016, the directors of Harvard Management Co. decided to abandon the school’s once-vaunted practice of managing a big chunk of the fund internally. The new strategy: Outsource most of the work. By endowment standards, it’s a seismic shift. About half of the fund’s 230 highly paid employees are being shown the door, sending a wave of veteran investors out to start their own firms — and vie for Harvard money. 
Becker's Robert Johnson Named Chancellor of UMass Dartmouth l 
  • Lauded as a visionary leader with a demonstrated commitment to innovation, academic excellence and the transformative power of higher education, Robert E. Johnson, president of Becker College since 2010, today was named chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth by a unanimous vote of the UMass Board of Trustees.

 

Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
Barnard College Endowment to Divest From Climate Change Deniers l Bloomberg
  • Barnard College’s board of trustees voted to divest from energy companies that deny climate change, putting into question the $286 million endowment’s relationship with its money manager Investure. The board approved the measure last week, saying the college will “distinguish between companies based on their behavior and willingness to transition to a cleaner economy.” In 2014, Investure lost a client, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which decided to divest from fossil fuel companies.
NYU Divest Works to Hold Board Member Larry Fink Accountable l Washington Square News
  • NYU Divest Trustee Of The Week goes to Larry Fink. As part of the group’s new initiative #OnBoardWithDivestment, Divest has nominated a new member of the board each week since Feb. 17. According to its website, Divest wants to hold NYU’s board accountable to the University Senate’s decision to divest university funds from fossil fuels. Each week, the group focuses on a different trustee, and reaches out to them about the board’s responsibility to listen to community members. Fink, the CEO of the financial planning company BlackRock, was nominated this week because of his connections to ExxonMobil and President Donald Trump’s campaign.
Smith College Climate Demonstrators Push Trustees for Fossil Fuel Divestment l Boston Business Journal
  • Students demonstrators last week pushed Smith College's Board of Trustees to remove all fossil fuel investments from the college's $1.7 billion endowment fund. Divest Smith College held a rally at the campus center on Elm Street and marched to Pierce Hall, where students and others sang protest songs, unfurled a banner, and delivered speeches. Meanwhile, a five-member student negotiating team walked into the back door of the hall for a scheduled meeting with trustees.
University of Denver Green Fund Offers Promise of Sustainability, But Still No Divestment l DU Clarion
  • Last month Chancellor Chopp and Chair of the Board of Trustees, Doug Scrivner, sent out an email informing stakeholders that the Board decided not to divest from fossil fuels, instead opting to create a revolving green fund.
  • Students at Connecticut College are building off of a 2008 faculty proposal for a general financial plan for clean investments that aimed to foster justice on campus by circulating a student petition for signatures supporting fossil fuel divestment.
Two UK University Divestment Wins in Two Days l Fossil Free
  • The Fossil Free UK campaign to break all ties between Britain’s 160+ higher education institutions and the fossil fuel industry received a massive boost this week.   With over 100 campaigns now active on campuses across the country, People & Planet have supported students and staff in almost a third of UK universities to divest from fossil fuels in the last 3 years.
University of Puget Sound  Board of Trustees Meeting Met with Frustration, Divestment Issue Continues l The Trail
  • Members of Puget Sound’s Environmental Campus Outreach (ECO) club attended an open meetingheld by the Board of Trustees last week to pressure the Board to divest from Fossil Fuels. After ECO club’s student led “Divest UPS” campaign last spring, the Board did not divest from fossil fuels but created an alternative Fossil Fuel Free Portfolio instead. Potential donors can choose which portfolio to contribute to, but the new portfolio is not advertised.
University of Bristol Announces New Fossil Fuel Divestment and Carbon Reduction Plans l University of Bristol Press Release
  • The University of Bristol announced this week bold plans to divest its endowment funds from the most carbon intensive sectors of the fossil fuel industry. Investments in the energy sector will now focus on companies which are having the greatest impact on reducing carbon emissions.
Investment Manager & Strategies News
 
Legg Mason Files For First Two ESG ETFs l City Wire Selector
  • Legg Mason is prepping to launch its first two environmental, social and governance (ESG) exchange-traded funds (ETFs) through affiliate ClearBridge Investments. The firm has registered the ClearBridge Dividend Equity Strategy ESG ETF and the ClearBridge Large Cap Growth ESG ETF with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • Community Capital Management, Inc. (CCM), a leading fixed income impact investing manager, announced this week that it has become a signatory to the United Nations-Supported Principles for Responsible Investment (UN PRI), enhancing its 18-year commitment to incorporating ESG criteria into its investment philosophy and processes.
Finland’s Varma Licenses New ‘TCFD-aligned’ Climate Index Incorporating CDP Methodology (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • The Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Company, whose €42.9bn of assets make it the largest private investor in Finland, has licensed a new climate change index from index provider STOXX that also excludes controversial weapons and tobacco. It’s part of a new index series that STOXX says is a first because it incorporates methodology of the CDP climate data body and aligns it with the Financial Stability Board’s high-level Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.
A New ETF for Green Bond Investing l Barron's
  • Fixed-income investors who favor exchange-traded funds and want to own green bonds now have a vehicle. VanEck announced this week it launched the VanEck Vectors Green Bond ETF. Green bonds are issued to fund environmentally sustainable projects. Issuance of green bonds has about doubled in the past year, according to one non-profit that tracks the sector.
UBS Wealth Management Americas Partners with Rethink Impact to Contribute to Raising Industry's Largest1 Impact Investing Fund with Gender Lens Overlay l Yahoo Finance
  • UBS Wealth Management Americas partnered with Rethink Impact, a venture capital fund, to contribute to raising $110+million, more than half of which came from UBS clients, including high net worth individuals, family offices, private foundations, and universities, for the closing of Rethink Impact. Rethink Impact is an impact investing venture capital fund investing in gender diverse, tech-enabled companies working to solve the world's biggest challenges based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

 

Add your reaction Share

Weekly News Round-Up: March 3rd, 2017

New Members

Upcoming Events

Responsible Investment Forum l Private Equity International & UN PRI, March 7-8, 2017, New York, NY
  • Find out why leading global investors are putting increasing pressure on US managers to adopt stricter ESG principles as they consider investing in private equity and other alternative asset classes. Building on the success of the longest-running ESG event in Europe, the Responsible Investment Forum comes to New York to bring together the most sophisticated LPs, GPs and service providers to discuss why, when, and how your firm should be implementing an effective ESG strategy.
Webinar: Proxy Preview 2017 Report Release l As You Sow, the Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2), and Proxy Impact, March 8, 2017, 2:00 pm ET
  • Proxy Preview 2017 is the 13th annual edition of the insider’s guide to social and environmental shareholder proposals. This free publication is the #1 resource for shareholders looking to align their values and investments. Proxy Preview provides the most comprehensive data on more than 300 resolutions—including corporate political spending, climate change, energy, human rights, diversity, sustainability, and much more. This webinar will offer a preview of the reports findings.
Webinar: Sustainable Investing through Hedge Funds l Intentional Endowments Network, March 9, 2017, 1:00 - 2:00 PM ET
  • This webinar will focus on the ESG and sustainable investing strategies that have historically been less prevalent in hedge funds than other areas of investment. Because of their ability to sell short, hedge funds can benefit not only from investing long in winning companies, but also from shorting companies on the losing end of the shift to sustainable business models or companies with high levels of ESG risk. 
  • Join moderator Janine Guillot of SASB, and panelists Robert Herz, former Chairman of FASB, Rakhi Kumar of State Street Global Advisors, Malcolm Ryerse of Columbia Threadneedle Investments for a roundtable discussion aimed to help attendees gain a broader understanding of why investors care about ESG info and how investors use the information, learn about the current regulatory environment as it relates to corporate reporting on sustainability issues, and understand the landscape and state of disclosure for climate-related risks.
Impact Investing Forum 2017 l Opal Group, April 23, 2017 - April 25, 2017, Boca Raton, FL
  • The Impact Investing Forum will look at many of the asset classes that encompass this space. We invite you to join us and meet top influencers, experienced investors, money managers, and service providers that are leading the charge in this ever growing space. Themes of defining impact investing, portfolio construction, asset class opportunities, and the role of the investor are just a few of the stimulating topics to be covered at this event. This conference will exclusively feature dialogue driven panel discussions led by consultants and family offices.
The Impact Capitalism Summit l Big Path Capital, April 25-26, 2017, Chicago, IL
  • The Impact Capitalism Summit is the Largest Convening of Impact Investors Globally. This year at the Impact Capitalism Summit in Chicago we will explore the progress of leading impact investment portfolios, discover the latest innovations across sectors, themes and asset classes, and identify the steps needed to harness the power of capital markets to build a sustainable, fair and just economy where opportunity and prosperity are shared by all.
Sustainable / ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how investors continue to push for more diversity on corporate boards; Natixis' launch of ESG target date funds aimed at 401(k)s; John Goldstein, managing director of ESG and impact investing at Goldman says the "core secular trend'' favoring ESG "outweighs the short-term effects" of the U.S. election; and the ongoing enthusiasm for renewables.
How Investments in Agriculture Intersect with Human Rights l Foodtank
  • Kaitlin Y. Cordes heads investments in land and agriculture at the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), as well as the Center’s work on the intersection of human rights and international investments. In this Q&A, Ms. Cordes discusses potential solutions to challenges and opportunities in international agricultural investment and how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can help improve land tenure and human rights for farmworkers.
Ranking Oil, Gas and Mining Companies on Indigenous Rights in the Arctic l Academia.edu
  • This ranking evaluates the public commitments, formalized procedures and institutional arrangements of oil, gas and mining companies for handling indigenous rights in the Arctic.The purpose of the ranking is to support norm formation and to contribute to improving the performance of companies on indigenous rights by highlighting which companies have made a public commitment to indigenous rights, and to what extent.The ranking covers 92 oil, gas and mining companies involved in onshore resource extraction above the Arctic Circle. 
  • Two major US-based investment groups – Fidelity and JP Morgan Asset Management – have signed up to responsible investments bodies. First: Fidelity Investments, the fourth largest mutual fund and financial services group in the world with $2.1trn in assets under management, has become a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). Meanwhile, JP Morgan AM has become a member of the Institutional Investor Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) – a London-based NGO representing European investors who want to address climate change risks and opportunities.
  • In a letter to President Donald Trump’s director of the National Economic Council, Gary Cohn, a trade group chaired by executives like JP Morgan Chase & Co. chief executive Jamie Dimon and Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson asked the administration to consider or reconsider 16 federal regulations, four of which concerned finance and corporate governance. The financial rules include regulation on the shareholder proposal process, a delay of the CEO Pay Ratio Disclosure Rule, a reconsideration of the Conflict Minerals Disclosure Rule, and a delay of the Margin Requirements for Un-cleared Swaps rule.
ESG Not Going Away, But a Lot of Work Left — CII Conference Panel l Pensions & Investments
  • ESG investing is a “slow moving, unstoppable train,” said Rebecca Fender, head, future of finance, head of the Future of Finance initiative at the CFA Institute, speaking on a panel on next-generation investing at the Council of Institutional Investors' Winter Conference in Washington on Tuesday. She added that there's a “pipeline issue that needs to be thought about,” as the institute has heard from many top business schools that their students are less interested in going into finance.

The Rise of ESG at KKR l Privcap

  • In a keynote interview with Georges Dyer of the Intentional Endowments Network, and Ken Mehlman, the head of public affairs at KKR—also a veteran of the political scene—discuss the motivations behind KKR’s embrace of ESG as a tool for value creation.
BlackRock Rapidly Expanding ESG Reach l ETF.com
  • The iShares lineup of funds has a broad and growing offering of ESG and SRI ETFs. In this Q&A, Deborah Winshel, BlackRock’s global head of impact investing, discusses why this investment space is expanding so quickly.
  • One of 2016's big themes was the mass of filings and launches for exchange-traded funds focusing on ESG, nearly doubling the space. By ETF.com’s count, there are nearly 50 funds that focus on sustainable investing, a catch-all term that covers ESG factors, socially responsible investing and other values-based investing. In 2016 alone, there were 21 sustainable funds launched, with the majority of those coming in the second half of the year.
Impact Investing
 
  • Recent research has shown that companies with more women in management and on boards, as well as those with better gender diversity reflected throughout their businesses, tend to outperform companies with fewer women in management and with lower gender diversity. The SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity ETF, the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund, and a Barclays-sponsored exchange-traded note, are the only public offerings focused on investing in a gender-aware manner, although most funds that actively incorporate ESG factors into their investment process include employee-diversity policies and board composition as considerations.
  • The Science Communication Unit of the University of the West of England has produced what it calls a “future brief,” a discussion of environmental impact investing focused especially on the European context. This article outlines some of their findings.
  • Between research, teaching and talent development, elite MBA programs might be one of the most important cogs in the growth of impact investing. Some schools are already leading the budding field and sending elite talent into the most interesting and important development in the capital markets.

General Endowment News
 
Harvard’s Endowment Plans to Continue One Tradition l The Wall Street Journal
  • Harvard’s endowment is sticking to one tradition: investing early with some traders that leave to start their own shops. Harvard Management Co. is currently remodeling its operations under a new chief executive — laying off half its staff and changing its investment philosophy. Even as it makes these big changes, Harvard also plans to back the next ventures of two internal trading groups, a fixed income team run by Graig Fantuzzi and Michele Toscani, and a credit team headed by Rene Canezin, said people familiar with the matter. Harvard expects to invest at least $300 million with each of the teams, one of the people said.
Johns Hopkins Taps Money Manager Specialist for Endowment Post l Yahoo Finance
  • The new chief investment officer for Johns Hopkins University’s endowment specializes in selecting outside money managers. Jason Perlioni, 43, will use his expertise at the Baltimore-based university, where he’ll be charged with finding and managing outside advisers for more than $6 billion for the endowment of both the university and hospital as well as other assets, the university said Tuesday. Perlioni starts July 1.
  • Three years ago, UBC’s Board of Governors approved an endowment responsible investment policy that established best practices that take into account ESG factors when making investment decisions. Building on that commitment, the university is now allocating $10 million in seed money from its Trek endowment funds to the new Sustainable Future Fund that will invest in low-carbon emission and high ESG equity funds.
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
Amazon Deforestation, OnceTamed, Comes Roaring Back l The New York Times
  • A decade after the “Save the Rainforest” movement captured the world’s imagination, this article explores how Cargill and other food giants are pushing deeper into the wilderness.
Why ExxonMobil's New CEO, Like the Old One, Backs a Carbon Tax l Green Biz
  • ExxonMobil chairman and CEO Darren Woods has signaled his backing for the Paris Agreement and called for a carbon tax to reduce U.S. emissions in one of his first major public communications since taking the reins at the oil giant in January. In a blog post on the ExxonMobil website, Woods emphasized the importance of managing the risks of climate change and highlighted his company's plans to boost natural gas generation, energy efficiency, biofuels and carbon capture and storage (CCS) to help drive down its emissions.
New ExxonMobil CEO Calls for Socially Responsible Energy as Investors Re-file Climate Proposal l Responsible Investor (Subscription)
  • A coalition of institutional investors with $4trn under management, led by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and the Church Commissioners for England, have re-filed their climate change disclosure proposal at oil major ExxonMobil that gained a massive 38% support last year. 
Boston Common and ShareAction Working on Transatlantic Bank Engagement on Climate Change l Responsible Investor (Subscription)
  • ShareAction, the UK-based campaign group, and Boston Common Asset Management, the US SRI specialist, are working together on a shareholder engagement programme with banks in Europe and the US on climate change. Speaking to Responsible Investor, Juliet Phillips, campaign manager at ShareAction, said it would be co-ordinating a transatlantic strategy for engagement with banks with US-based Boston Common during the upcoming AGM season that could involve co-ordinated statements and letters.
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
King's College London PhD Student Goes Hungry to Protest Fossil Fuel Investment l Energy Live News
  • A PhD researcher at King’s College London (KCL) has started a hunger strike protest to call for fossil fuel divestment. The student is part of the King’s Climate Change Emergency (KCCE) group, which alongside Fossil Free KCL, is campaigning against the university’s continued investment in fossil fuels. The campaign is now planning what it says will be the largest act of civil disobedience ever undertaken by the fossil fuel divestment movement – covering the front of the university’s buildings with hundreds of flowers, statements, balloons and paintings this coming weekend.
Global Divestment Movement Announces a Major Mobilization l EcoWatch
  • From 5-13 May, the Global Divestment Mobilisation will intensify the demand for individuals and institutions to divest from the companies most responsible for causing climate change. Thousands worldwide will take action to push cities, universities, churches, pension funds, museums and other institutions to demonstrate climate leadership by breaking their financial ties to fossil fuel companies.
Smith CollegeProtesters to Demand Divestment From Fossil Fuels l masslive.com
  • Smith College student climate activists are demanding that Smith College withdraw all investments from the fossil fuel industry, and are planning a protest and vigil this week. Students will hold a "vigil for victims of climate change and the fossil fuel industry" while organizers with Divest Smith College meet with the college's Board of Trustees, according to a spokeswoman for the group.
Swarthmore College Mountain Justice Stages Sit-in and Protest After Board’s Divestment Decision l The Phoenix
  • Last week members of Swarthmore's Mountain Justice staged a sit-in protest in the office of Chief Investment Officer Mark Amstutz, following the Board of Manager’s decision to continue investment in fossil fuel industries despite a student referendum that urged the Board to divest. Later in the day, the Parrish Hall sit-in transitioned to a rally in Kohlberg Hall to disrupt the Board meeting taking place.
Private Prison Divestment

Vanderbilt Student Opinion Piece: Private prisons, (Y)our Contributions and The Need to Divest l Vanderbilt Hustler

  • In this opinion piece, Vanderbilt University student Shawn Reilly discusses why the University should divest from private prisons.
 
Investment Manager News
 
Nuveen NuShares ESG ETFs: ETFs For The Socially Conscious l Seeking Alpha
  • This article takes a quick look at the 5 newly launched Nuveen NuShares ETFs. The funds employ a 2 stage ESG screen which creates the TIAA ESG Indexes, and the 5 available funds cover the 9 Morningstar style boxes.
Lyxor Makes Foray into ESG With Green Bond ETF Launch l Investment Week
  • Lyxor Asset Management has launches its first "pure" environmental product, the Lyxor Green Bond UCITS ETF, in response to growing investor appetite for ESG strategies and new regulation in France.
Natixis Launches First ESG Target-Date Funds l Wealth Management
  • Natixis Global Asset Management has launched the first series of 401(k) target-date funds to focus on ESG investing. The Natixis Sustainable Future Funds feature vintages ranging every five years from 2015 to 2060 and rely heavily on the expertise of Mirova—a Natixis-owned asset management company with 30 years of ESG investing experience—among other investment constituents and sub-advisors.

 

 

Add your reaction Share

Weekly News Round-Up: February 24th, 2017

Upcoming Events

Webinar: Proxy Voting and Shareholder Engagement for Endowments l Intentional Endowments Network, February 27, 2017, 12:30 - 1:30 PM ET

  • The webinar will provide an overview of the value of proxy voting and additional forms of engagement for endowments that are involved in commingled funds through an outsourced CIO – including the current landscape, trends, specific issues, and why it is important for investors. Guidelines and opportunities of how to take action will also be provided.

Webinar: Sustainable Investing through Hedge Funds | Intentional Endowments Network, March 9, 2017, 1:00 - 2:00 PM EST

  • This webinar will provide an overview and opportunities of sustainable investing through hedge funds.  Because hedge funds have an ability to sell short, they can benefit not only from investing long in winning companies, but also from shorting companies on the losing end of the shift to sustainable business models or companies with high levels of ESG risk. 

Webinar: Mission-Aligned Investing: What New Positive Deviance Research Can Tell Us About What Moves Institutional Investors to Action | Intentional Endowments Network, March 15, 2017, 12:00 - 1:00 PM ET

  • Based on in-depth new research about what facilitates mission-aligned investing, presenter Abigail Abrash Walton, PhD, will share her research findings related to mission-aligned investing, leadership, and the decision-making process to divest from fossil fuels by philanthropic organizations with assets under management from $5 million to $1 billion.  This will include what factors supported decision makers in moving to mission-aligned investing while simultaneously exercising their fiduciary duty to steward institutional assets and how the divestment decision affected the decision makers personally and their organizations. 

Responsible Investment Forum l Private Equity International & UN PRI, March 7-8, 2017, New York, NY

  • Find out why leading global investors are putting increasing pressure on US managers to adopt stricter environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles as they consider investing in private equity and other alternative asset classes. Building on the success of the longest-running ESG event in Europe, the Responsible Investment Forum comes to New York to bring together the most sophisticated LPs, GPs and service providers to discuss why, when, and how your firm should be implementing an effective ESG strategy.

Impact Investing Forum 2017 l Opal Group, April 23, 2017 - April 25, 2017, Boca Raton, FL

  • The Impact Investing Forum will look at many of the asset classes that encompass this space. We invite you to join us and meet top influencers, experienced investors, money managers, and service providers that are leading the charge in this ever growing space. Themes of defining impact investing, portfolio construction, asset class opportunities, and the role of the investor are just a few of the stimulating topics to be covered at this event. This conference will exclusively feature dialogue driven panel discussions led by consultants and family offices.

The Impact Capitalism Summit l Big Path Capital, April 25-26, 2017, Chicago, IL

  • The Impact Capitalism Summit is the Largest Convening of Impact Investors Globally. This year at the Impact Capitalism Summit in Chicago we will explore the progress of leading impact investment portfolios, discover the latest innovations across sectors, themes and asset classes, and identify the steps needed to harness the power of capital markets to build a sustainable, fair and just economy where opportunity and prosperity are shared by all.
 

Sustainable / ESG Investing

PrivCaps's Private Equity ESG Summit Report | PrivCap

  • This publication presents an overview of the intelligence that was shared at Privcap’s Private Equity ESG Summit, which brought together limited partners, general partners, operating experts, investor-relations professionals, and advocates for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) objectives in investing. 

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance

  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights deals this month from Fannie Mae and BBVA that show green loans pushing beyond project finance for renewable energy, with an eye toward securitization or syndication that could appeal to sustainable investors; Quebec following Ontario into green bonds; Big batteries coming of age; Companies based in Europe saying more about the United Nations sustainable development goals; and if investors use their hard-fought proxy access rights?

Why Governance Matters In Sustainable Investing l Forbes

  • Many people focus on the 'E' in ESG probably because environmental factors, like reducing emissions or using renewable energy, are easy to understand. But social issues are also important. It may include treating diseases, producing safe products for consumers and creating healthy workplaces for employees. Governance—the 'G' in ESG—often gets the least attention, but it’s another important way that companies can make a positive impact. Good governance seeks to effectively balance the needs of executives and shareholders, which should be good for investors.
Venture Capitalist: Managers Need to Take More Risks in Impact Investing l Wealthy Management
  • Speaking on a panel at The Economist’s Impact Investing conference last week, Nancy Pfund, the founder and managing partner of DBL Partners, was critical of larger institutions and said their lack of aggressiveness in impact investing was holding back the asset class. 
Columbia Threadneedle Wins ESG Strategy Contract With Zurich l Actuarial Post
  • Columbia Threadneedle Investments, a leading global asset management group, has been appointed by Zurich Germany to manage its new European equity ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) strategy.
Mission-Related Investing Gains Traction l Chief Investment Officer
  • Mission-related investing is gaining strong momentum among non-profit institutional investors, with 31% making investments aligned with environment and climate change, healthcare, housing, job creation, and education, according to a survey by Cambridge Associates, a global investment firm. None of the investors surveyed expect to decrease their allocations. It’s no secret that public demand has been high for colleges and universities to divest from fossil-fuel related investments, and the survey found climate risk a top consideration for 41% of colleges and universities and 30% of foundations.
Green Investing Takes Hold with New Partnership l Seacoast Online Blogs
  • Progressive Asset Management (PAM) has partnered with Securities America, allowing PAM to begin expanding its reach throughout New England, starting with the December 2016 opening of a Vermont office. The drive to merge values with long-term investments has grown dramatically over the past two decades as the cumulative impact of SRI and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) initiatives has taken hold.
  • Sonen Capital announced the final close of its Global Sustainable Real Assets Fund, a $75 million private global real assets impact investment fund. The strategy seeks to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon environment, promote resource use efficiency and increase the stock of land, water and trees under sustainable management. The fund achieved its capitalization target with contributions from a global mix of family offices, foundations, and financial institutions.

Schroders' Global Investor Study (Pension Fund Investors) – Focusing on Investment Outcomes and ESG Issues l Pensions & Investments 

  • The Schroders Global Investor Study takes place at a time when financial markets are – potentially – at a turning point, moving from widespread expectation of deflation, to one where inflationary pressures are starting to re-emerge. The ability to beat inflation is increasingly weighing on the minds of institutional investors. The Study also finds that institutional investors are leading the charge on ESG issues, which are becoming a more important factor in investment strategies. Investors are taking a closer look at their investments' ESG impact and becoming willing to sell investments for transgressions.

When Impact Investing Is All About the People | Sanford Social Innovation Forum 

  • Impact investing strategies often focus on returns, but one family foundation’s sights are set on building human capacity, collaboration, and diversity in the field.

 

Fiduciary Duty

Understanding UPMIFA: Delegation of Management and Investment of Endowment Funds l JDSUPRA Business Advisor

  • The Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA or the Act) was adopted in 2006 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, as the successor to the Uniform Management of Institutional Funds Act (UMIFA), and has (on 1/1/2017) been enacted in every state except Pennsylvania. UPMIFA provides guidance and authority to charitable organizations concerning the management and investment of charitable funds and for endowment spending.
Leading Practice Briefing on Fiduciary Duties for Endowments and Foundations | Intentional Endowments Network, prepared by Megan Jackson and Keith Johnson at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c., February 2017

Updated Regulatory Guidance on Proxy Voting and Sustainable Investment | Intentional Endowments Network, prepared by Megan Jackson and Keith Johnson at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c., February 2017

 

Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
University of Guelph Student Activist Group Holds Presentation on Divestment l The Ontarion
  • Fossil Free Guelph (FFG) hosted an information panel at the Grad Lounge on Feb. 8 to discuss the first steps in rolling out their Special Action Policy (SAP) proposal to the University of Guelph on divestment. The group believes that there is deception in the University’s “green” image in relation to their actual investments in fossil fuels.
Yale Corporation Scrutinizes Exxon Investments l Yale Daily News
  • The Yale Corporation received an update from Yale’s responsible investments committee about ongoing research into the oil company Exxon Mobil Corp., whose efforts to sow doubt about climate change have led to calls for divestment from students and faculty. In an interview with the News, Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility Chair Jonathan Macey LAW ’82 said he doubts that the Corporation, which deliberates in secret, made a decision on whether to divest from Exxon at last weekend’s meeting.
Protesters Call for Chico State University to Cut Ties With Banks Lending to North Dakota Access Pipeline l The Orion
  • After Seattle voted to cut ties with Wells Fargo because of its ties to the Dakota Access Pipeline, Chico protesters are asking Chico State to do the same. Chico State was the first public university in the United States to fully sever ties with fossil fuel companies in 2014. This raises concern as to if the current divestment plan from fossil fuels coincides to working with organizations who are helping fund projects such as installing a crude oil pipeline.
Why the Swarthmore College Board Should Listen to the Divestment Referendum (Opinion) l The Phoenix
  • In this article, the author shares their opinion on why Swarthmore College should consider divestment.
Fossil Free Penn Members Don Surgical Masks at UCouncil Forum to Protest University's Decision Against Divestment l The Daily Pennsylvanian 
  • At the University Council Open Forum on Wednesday, members of Fossil Free Penn staged a demonstration to speak out against the Penn administration’s continued investment in the fossil fuel industry. The forum was protesting the administration’s decision to reject a divestment proposal put forth by the group in October 2015.
Pipeline Protesters in Iowa City Call for Solidarity with Standing Rock, Divestment from Banks l Press-Citizen
  • Iowa City protesters standing with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation against the Dakota Access Pipeline made stops to U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and the offices of U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack on Wednesday, urging divestment from the financial institutions the same day officials arrested and evicted people from North Dakota camps created to help stop the pipeline's construction.

 

Add your reaction Share

Weekly News Round-Up: February 17, 2017

New Member
 
Sign-On Opportunities

Dodd-Frank Section 1502 (Conflict Minerals Rule) Investor Statement

  • Boston Common Asset Management, Responsible Sourcing Network, Trillium Asset Management, Mercy Investment Services, and US SIF invite you to sign an investor statement expressing support for continued implementation of Section 1502 (Conflict Minerals Disclosure) of the Dodd Frank Act. Last week, a proposed Executive Order was leaked which ordered that the required disclosure be put on hold for two years as other options were reviewed.  Please sign on by completing the form by Friday, February 17th.
 
 
New Resources

2017 ICCR Proxy Resolutions and Voting Guide l Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, 2017

  • This guide presents ICCR member-sponsored resolutions — whether as lead or co-filer — for the 2017 proxy season, as of January 27. If you are a shareholder, we invite you to read through it, review our members’ argumentation and support those resolutions you can. Bearing in mind that any abstention is counted as a vote for management by default, we strongly urge investors to be active shareowners and vote all their proxies as an important exercise of shareholder rights, whenever possible.
 
Upcoming Events
 
Webinar: Proxy Voting and Shareholder Engagement for Endowments l Intentional Endowments Network, February 27, 2017, 12:30 - 1:30 PM ET
  • The webinar will provide an overview of the value of proxy voting and additional forms of engagement for endowments that are involved in commingled funds through an outsourced CIO – including the current landscape, trends, specific issues, and why it is important for investors. Guidelines and opportunities of how to take action will also be provided.
Responsible Investment Forum l Private Equity International & UN PRI, March 7-8, 2017, New York, NY
  • Find out why leading global investors are putting increasing pressure on US managers to adopt stricter environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles as they consider investing in private equity and other alternative asset classes. Building on the success of the longest-running ESG event in Europe, the Responsible Investment Forum comes to New York to bring together the most sophisticated LPs, GPs and service providers to discuss why, when, and how your firm should be implementing an effective ESG strategy.
Impact Investing Forum 2017 l Opal Group, April 23, 2017 - April 25, 2017, Boca Raton, FL
  • The Impact Investing Forum will look at many of the asset classes that encompass this space. We invite you to join us and meet top influencers, experienced investors, money managers, and service providers that are leading the charge in this ever growing space. Themes of defining impact investing, portfolio construction, asset class opportunities, and the role of the investor are just a few of the stimulating topics to be covered at this event. This conference will exclusively feature dialogue driven panel discussions led by consultants and family offices.
The Impact Capitalism Summit l Big Path Capital, April 25-26, 2017, Chicago, IL
  • The Impact Capitalism Summit is the Largest Convening of Impact Investors Globally. This year at the Impact Capitalism Summit in Chicago we will explore the progress of leading impact investment portfolios, discover the latest innovations across sectors, themes and asset classes, and identify the steps needed to harness the power of capital markets to build a sustainable, fair and just economy where opportunity and prosperity are shared by all.

 

Sustainable / ESG Investing

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance

  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how some U.S. companies are anticipating a new wave of tax breaks under President Donald Trump, while some of their investors say they are not receiving enough information about how any windfalls will be used; some European green bonds are trading at a premium; the London Stock Exchange Group has a new ESG guide; Sustainability professionals say Trump is their black swan; and in a Q&A, Calyxt CEO Federico Tripodi says gene editing can boost food supply without GMO headaches.

  • The Generation Foundation, 2° Investing Initiative, Mercer, Morgan Stanley and S&P Global Ratings are to co-launch two reports later this month exploring the potential of misallocation of capital over the long-term due to the inability of the finance sector to capture long-term risks with short-term risk-assessment frameworks. 

A New Era of Sustainable Investing Emerges l Barron's

  • President Donald Trump’s flurry of policy directives has fueled activism across the country. It may also light a fire under some investors focused on sustainable business practices. In the 12 weeks since the election, investors have put $383 million into ESG stock funds, according to EPFR Global. The political backdrop “could have a galvanizing effect, as investors look for ways to more explicitly support sustainable ideas,” says Jon Hale, head of sustainability research at Morningstar.
Can You Do Well as an Investor and Still Do Good? (Opinion) l Market Watch
  • Materiality is anchored in the idea that specific risks or opportunities can be identified through sophisticated ESG analysis. This analysis can discount as obvious a risk as the imposition of a carbon-pricing mechanism, or as subtle as the importance of gender and race diversity in the boardroom, C-suite, and the employee base. This opinion piece looks at the accumulating evidence that you can make many while also making a better world.
How to Solve the Imbalance in ESG Investing l GreenBiz
  • Investors are actively demanding more information about different components of ESG investments. During a GreenBiz 17 program Wednesday, Dmitri Sedov, vice president of innovation and digital strategy at S&P Global, said their acquisition of Trucost will help solve a gap between the demand for sustainable investing and the supply of these investments. Sedov said one of the first steps to help solve this imbalance is to create a unified system that looks at environmental risks similar to the way S&P Global Ratings look at credit risk.
Nearly a Third of Non-Profit Institutional Investors Say They Make “Mission-Related” Investments, According to Cambridge Associates Survey l SAT Press Releases
  • Mission-related investing, which includes impact investing and ESG investing, is gaining significant momentum among non-profit institutional investors, according to a survey by global investment firm Cambridge Associates. The most common thematic focus among impact investors is the environment and climate change, with healthcare, housing, job creation, and education also cited as areas of interest by respondents in Mission-Related Investing: Current Practices and Views of Non-Profit Investors.

 

Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
  • A coalition of over 130 investors representing over $685 Billion in assets under management called on banks financing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to address or support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request to reroute the pipeline and avoid their treaty territory. Lead investor Boston Common Asset Management is joined by Storebrand Asset Management and Calvert Research and Management, with support from First Peoples Worldwide—along with CalPERS and the Comptroller of the City of New York.
Universities Better Than Governments at Achieving SDGs l University World News
  • The task of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, are beyond the capabilities and interests of governments, which means universities around the world have a unique role to play, according to world-renowned economist Dr Jeffrey D Sachs. "I do think the academic and university sector have a unique role to play; I do not believe the SDGs can be achieved without the university sector,” said Sachs when addressing the World Sustainability Forum held in Cape Town, South Africa last month.
Investors with $2.8 Trillion in Assets Unite Against Donald Trump’s Climate Change Denial l The Independent
  • The world’s biggest investors are joining forces to unite against Donald Trump in the fight against climate change. As G20 foreign ministers meet on Thursday to prepare for a climate change summit in Hamburg in July, managers of funds with assets totalling more than $2.8 trillion - more than the entire annual GDP of the UK - called for leading economies to phase out fossil fuel subsidies within the next three years to avert a catastrophe.
EPA: US Greenhouse Gas Emissions Declined in 2015 l The Hill
  • Greenhouse gas emissions in the United States declined by 2.2 percent between 2014 and 2015, federal officials reported on Tuesday. The EPA attributed the overall decline to lower carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels, which itself came about because of less coal consumption in favor of natural gas, warmer winter weather that decreased heating fuel demand and lower electricity demand overall.
Canada’s Arctic Glaciers Now a Major Contributor to Sea-Level Rise l Global News
  • Canada’s Arctic glaciers have become a major contributor to sea level change, according to glaciologists at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). The Queen Elizabeth Islands, which include Ellesmere Island and dozens more, saw surface melt on its ice caps and glaciers accelerate by 900 per cent over the course of a decade. It went from three gigatons per year in 2005 to 30 gigatons per year in 2015, the research shows.
Moody's: Future US Climate Policy Shifts Would Not Stall Global Emissions Reduction Efforts l Moody's
  • Institutional and private sector forces will continue to drive global efforts to reduce carbon emissions, even if US climate policy is moderated or reversed by the new US administration, Moody's Investors Service said in a report titled "Environmental Risks: Shift in US Climate Policy Would Not Stall Global Efforts to Reduce Carbon Emissions" this week. "We believe that powerful structural forces at play, including robust institutional and private sector momentum, will continue to drive global sustainable and climate agendas regardless of the direction of US federal climate policy," said Rahul Ghosh, the report's co-author. 
Investors Welcome Australian Financial Regulator’s Major Statement on Climate Change and Prudential Risk (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • A major speech today by the Australian financial regulator APRA focusing on climate change and prudential risk has been warmly welcomed by investors. The address by Geoff Summerhayes, Executive Board Member of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, which oversees banks and most of the superannuation industry, was made at the Insurance Council of Australia and noted how climate risks are ‘financial’ in nature. The wide-ranging speech touched on stranded assets and the system-wide implications of climate change.
Clean Energy
 
New Energy Outlook 2016 l Bloomberg New Energy Finance
  • New Energy Outlook (NEO) is Bloomberg New Energy Finance's annual long-term view of how the world's power markets will evolve in the future. This year’s edition sees $11.4 trillion investment in global power generation capacity over 25 years, with electric vehicles boosting electricity demand by 8% in 2040. The levelised costs of generation per MWh for onshore wind will fall 41% by 2040, and solar photovoltaics by 60%, making these two technologies the cheapest ways of producing electricity in many countries during the 2020s and in most of the world in the 2030s.
General Higher Education & Endowment News
 
Students Target Their School's Underperforming Investments l Bloomberg
  • College students decades ago protested endowment investments in South Africa during apartheid, and more recently, fossil fuels. Now there’s a new target: hedge funds. Wright State is among a dozen Ohio schools targeted in a report to be published Friday by Hedge Clippers urging them to sell stakes in hedge funds because they don’t make good financial sense. The survey examines the role of hedge funds in the economy, and touched on another point that’s important to students: since individual hedge fund holdings aren’t always disclosed, it’s hard to determine if the investments run counter to their school’s ethics or values.
States Are Investing More in Higher Education l The Atlantic
  • A new report finds that state funding for higher education continues to show growth overall, but each state has its own tale to tell. Support for higher education in state budgets rose by 3.4 percent across the country from the 2015-16 to 2016-17 fiscal years, preliminary data from the latest Grapevine survey shows. The compilation of state-taxpayer support is jointly produced by the Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, but does not include more in-depth factors like inflation and enrollment.
  • A study released last week by the Council for Aid to Education found that university endowment funds pulled in $41bn worth of donations in 2016, a shade higher than the total for 2015. That would be more of a cause for celebration if returns had not dropped 2 per cent. A further chill to college money managers may come from Trumpian tax reform that could be unkind to charity.
University of Oregon Foundation’s Endowment Strategies Pay Off l The Register Guard
  • The overall UO endowment grew 5.5 percent last year compared with an average loss of 2.2 percent for peer endowments, according to the annual survey by the National Association of College and University Business Officers and the money manager Commonfund.
Once 'King of Hedge Funds,' College of Wooster Becomes a Skeptic l Standard Examiner
  • Hedge funds once seemed crucial to helping the College of Wooster boost the value of its endowment. Now school officials have “increasing skepticism" of active management. Hedge funds are the classic example of super-active management. Wooster’s decision to slash hedge fund holdings to 25 percent of its portfolio from almost half in the past five years is part of a wider trend of institutions, including public pension funds, questioning the value of hedge fund investments.
Harvard Endowment Managers Leave to Launch New Funds l Investopedia
  • Like other traditional hedge funds, Harvard Management Co. has been plagued with problems associated with the recent investment climate of low returns, investor fatigue, and more. As part of an effort to turn the tide on its endowment's profits, managers at the fund are cutting roughly half of the 230 jobs and making significant internal restructuring plans. At the same time, some leaders at the fund are looking to this as a chance to leave Harvard in search of new opportunities in the hedge fund world.

Case Western CIO Exit Marks Fourth Woman to Depart College Funds l Bloomberg

  • Case Western Reserve University Chief Investment Officer Sally Staley has retired, making her at least the fourth woman departing from the helm of a university endowment in recent months. At least a half-dozen schools have announced leadership changes at their endowments following lagging performance. Women run endowments for about 15 percent of the richest 100 colleges, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters Urge CalPERS Divestment l The Sacramento Bees
  • Activists packed this week's CalPERS Board of administration meeting, urging the retirement fund to divest from the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. The CalPERS board is considering an Assembly bill that would compel it to divest from the project, as well as with any business that is helping to fund or finance it. The activists plan to hand the board about 52,000 signatures they collected from people who want the fund to divest from the project.
Laval Becomes First University in Canada to Divest From Fossil Fuels l Ricochet 
  • A student group at Quebec City’s Laval University has been campaigning for their school to divest from fossil fuels for three months. This week they got yes for an answer, when Laval became the first Canadian university to commit to divest from all fossil fuel holdings.
University of British Columbia's Sustainable Investment Fund to be Free of Fossil Fuel Companies l CTV News
  • The University of British Columbia will exclude fossil fuel companies from its low-carbon investment fund, a move being applauded by a campus group that has been pushing for divestment. The university has rejected calls to divest entirely from fossil fuels, but last year it established the $10-million Sustainable Future Fund to invest in companies with low carbon dioxide emissions. On Tuesday, the school said in an emailed statement that its board of governors voted to approve a framework for the fund that would see it invested in a fossil fuel-free portfolio managed by investment firm Jarislowsky Fraser.
Campaign Group Targets London Pension Fund Over Dakota Pipeline Holdings l Investments & Pensions Europe
  • London’s largest public pension fund is facing renewed calls to divest from fossil fuel-related holdings as it emerged it held companies involved in the Dakota Access Pipeline. The London Pension Fund Authority (LPFA) had holdings in three companies involved in the controversial US development, according to portfolio data from 30 September 2016 circulated by campaign group Divest London. The investments were bonds issued by Energy Transfer Partners, ConocoPhillips, and Marathon Petroleum, worth roughly £393,000 collectively.
London Pension Fund Authority Feels Divestment Pressure l Pensions Expert
  • The London Pensions Fund Authority is under pressure from London Mayor Sadiq Khan to divest entirely from fossil fuel holdings, but says it prefers working with companies and fund managers over divesting.
  • Refuel our Future, a student-led fossil fuel divestment group at Hopkins, celebrated Valentine’s Day on Tuesday by handing out cards to raise awareness for Global Divestment Day and the University’s investment in fossil fuels. The group has a divestment proposal currently under consideration by the Public Interest Investment Advisory Committee (PIIAC), which was reconvened near the end of last semester. 
University of South Florida Court Finds Divestment Referendum Constitutional l The Oracle
  • The controversial topic of divestment of the USF Foundation will be sent to the student body after the Student Government (SG) Supreme Court deemed a student referendum constitutional. The referendum, titled “USF Divest From Fossil Fuels, Private Prisons and Companies Complicit in Human Rights Violations,” calls for the Foundation to end investments in companies that have a direct connection with contributing to the use of fossil fuels, funding private prisons and investing “in human rights violations in Palestine and Yemen.”
Divestment is a Mirage – Here’s What We Can Do Instead (Opinion) l The Varsity
  • In this opinion the piece, the author argues that  instead of divesting from fossil fuels, Cambridge University should use the money to invest in reducing the cost of renewables.
Editorial: University of Iowa: Divest from Dakota Pipeline l The Daily Iowan
  • In this piece the author argues that each day the university remains invested in U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo it is a blemish on their reputation. They say that University of Iowa (UI) President Bruce Harreld must take a stand and actively represent the values an institution of higher education such as the UI holds, and the university cannot claim to be a liberal-arts school devoted to fostering diversity when it continues to fund forms of oppression.
Letter to the Editor: An Open Letter to President Brown, in Response to His Rejection of Divest Boston University’s Petition Demands l The Daily Free Press
  • In this Open Letter to Boston University (BU) President Brown, student members of the BU divestment movement make the case for why there should be an open dialogue on fossil fuel divestment on their campus.
City of Austin Activists Urge to Divest in Chase Bank l Austin Chronicle
  • About 80 ralliers organized outside the JPMorgan Chase Bank on Sixth Street on Monday to demand that residents and the city alike divest from the financial titan. The lunch-hour protest called on the city to follow Seattle's lead in divesting. Along with other big-name banks, Chase has loaned over $300 million to Energy Transfer Partners, the company backing the Dakota Access Pipeline and the planned Trans-Pecos Pipeline in West Texas. The city currently holds a $1.16 million contract with the bank.

Investment Manager & Strategies News
 
Low Carbon, High Returns With These ESG ETFs l ETF Trends
  • ESG investment principles have been gaining increased prominence in recent years with exchange traded funds providers helping increase ESG accessibility to all investors. The SPDR MSCI ACWI Low Carbon Target ETF and the iShares MSCI ACWI Low Carbon Target ETF are two of the more successful ESG ETFs. CRBN and LOWC are up an average of 4.6% this year. The two ETFs target the MSCI ACWI Low Carbon Target Index, which tries to address carbon exposure by overweighting companies with low carbon emissions relative to sales and per dollar of market capitalization, compared to the broader market. Both ETFs were created for the U.N. Joint Staff Pension Fund.
PKH Mandate Catalyses New BlueBay High Yield ESG Bond Fund l Investment & Pensions Europe
  • PKH, the NOK22bn (€2.4bn) Norwegian pension fund for health authorities, has seeded a global high yield ESG themed bond fund run by BlueBay Asset Management. The fund was kicked off by a mandate from PKH for an ESG strategy for their global bond portfolio, according to My-Linh Ngo, ESG specialist at BlueBay. The main requirement from PKH was for the fund to comply with the exclusion criteria applied by Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) for Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global, Ngo told IPE. It covers companies involved with controversial weapons, tobacco, and coal-based energy.

 

 

Add your reaction Share

Weekly News Round-Up: February 10th, 2017

New Member

Upcoming Events

 2017 Presidential Climate Leadership Summit | Second Nature, February 13-15, 2017, Tempe, AZ

  • IEN members will be delivering a plenary panel on factoring climate and sustainability considerations into the endowment investment process; and IEN will be hosting a half-day workshop on endowment investing. 

Webinar: Gender Lens Investing l Intentional Endowments Network, February 17, 2017, 12:00 - 1:00 PM ET
  • Research shows that companies where women are better represented in leadership simply perform better. And the financial power of women continues to grow. Yet, staggering gender inequality persists in varying forms across the globe. In this session, Kathleen McQuiggan and Julianne Zimmerman will explore why we should be investing more in women, the economic, social, and financial investment case for investing in companies led by women, how investors can make an impact when it comes to gender diversity, and the role we can play in closing the gender gap.
Webinar: Proxy Voting and Shareholder Engagement for Endowments l Intentional Endowments Network, February 27, 2017, 12:30 - 1:30 PM ET
  • The webinar will provide an overview of the value of proxy voting and additional forms of engagement for endowments that are involved in commingled funds through an outsourced CIO – including the current landscape, trends, specific issues, and why it is important for investors. Guidelines and opportunities of how to take action will also be provided.
Responsible Investment Forum l Private Equity International & UN PRI, March 7-8, 2017, New York, NY
  • Find out why leading global investors are putting increasing pressure on US managers to adopt stricter environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles as they consider investing in private equity and other alternative asset classes. Building on the success of the longest-running ESG event in Europe, the Responsible Investment Forum comes to New York to bring together the most sophisticated LPs, GPs and service providers to discuss why, when, and how your firm should be implementing an effective ESG strategy.
Impact Investing Forum 2017 l Opal Group, April 23, 2017 - April 25, 2017, Boca Raton, FL
  • The Impact Investing Forum will look at many of the asset classes that encompass this space. We invite you to join us and meet top influencers, experienced investors, money managers, and service providers that are leading the charge in this ever growing space. Themes of defining impact investing, portfolio construction, asset class opportunities, and the role of the investor are just a few of the stimulating topics to be covered at this event. This conference will exclusively feature dialogue driven panel discussions led by consultants and family offices.
The Impact Capitalism Summit l Big Path Capital, April 25-26, 2017, Chicago, IL
  • The Impact Capitalism Summit is the Largest Convening of Impact Investors Globally. This year at the Impact Capitalism Summit in Chicago we will explore the progress of leading impact investment portfolios, discover the latest innovations across sectors, themes and asset classes, and identify the steps needed to harness the power of capital markets to build a sustainable, fair and just economy where opportunity and prosperity are shared by all.
New Resources
 
Measuring The Economic Impact of Short-Termism l McKinsey Global Institute
  • Companies identified as “long-term” outperform their shorter-term peers according to new research from professional services firm McKinsey for FCLT Global, the investor/corporate coalition that promotes long-term investment. Read a summary of the results from Responsible Investor (subscription) here.
Sustainable / ESG Investing

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how some investors in Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc. (including IEN Founding Member Arjuna Capital) are growing worried about how the tech giants manage "fake news" on their platforms could drag down profits and leave them vulnerable to regulatory risks. Other highlights include Seattle council unanimously voting to withdraw about $3 billion of the city's funds from Wells Fargo & Co. as it seeks to distance itself from the bank's involvement with Dakota Access Pipeline, a new start-up that thinks newly moneyed millennials will be willing to pay extra for a passive investment that gives them more of a voice, and AOL Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong setting a goal to have women represent 50 percent of the organization’s leadership by 2020.
Details on the U.S.'s First Organic Farm REIT l Crain's Chicago Business
  • Access to capital is notoriously difficult for farmers. To make the process easier, Dr. Stephen Rivard and David Miller created Iroquois Valley Farms (An IEN-Member) to invest in land leased to farmers who convert conventional operations to organic. The Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT public benefit corporation, includes 32 farms across nearly 4,500 acres in Michigan, Maine, New York, Kentucky, Montana, West Virginia, Illinois and Indiana; 73 percent of that acreage has transitioned into certified organic land. It has some $30 million in assets, with 41,500 shares valued at $568 per share.
  • This article discusses Kevin Parker's Sustainable Insight Capital Management and the various dynamics of the ESG market.
London Stock Exchange Responds To 'Investor Demand' Launching ESG Reporting Guidance l Forbes
  • The London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) has issued guidance, through its Global Sustainable Investment Centre, which sets out recommendations for "good practice" in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting. The global guide brought calls today from a member of the World Bank Group for other stock exchanges around the world to follow the bourse’s example and lead. The guide responds to “demand from investors” for a more consistent approach to such reporting that now forms a core part of the investment decision process and to enable investors to make more informed investment decisions.
ESG Investing to Confront Climate Change l Northern Trust
  • Nearly 200 nations agreed in Paris in 2015 to take steps to limit the increase of the global average temperature to no more than 2°C (from pre-industrial times) by the end of the century. The physics of climate change demands an exceptional and immediate response. The world remains on track for 3.6°C of warming, according to the United Nations, and 2016 marked another year of record breaking high temperatures. Further, the U.S. election results created more uncertainty. Amidst these challenges, investment tools and strategies to fight climate change are increasingly important and already available.
Shareholder Engagement & Fiduciary Duty
 
DOL Updates Guidance on Proxy Voting and ESG l Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.
  • On December 29, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued new guidance for ERISA plans regarding proxy voting, statements of investment policy (including proxy voting policies) and other shareholder rights. The new guidance, Interpretive Bulletin (“IB”) 2016‑1, withdraws previous guidance which had been interpreted to restrict ERISA plans in voting proxies and exercising shareholder rights unless a cost‑benefit analysis had been conducted. The new guidance also confirms that material environmental, governance and social factors are permissible considerations when developing statements of investment policy. Trustees of ERISA plans may wish to review their proxy voting policies, statements of investment policy and investment manager contracts to ensure they reflect the new guidance.
Legal Guidance and Sustainability: Hiding Places and Conflated Concepts, Four Things We Can Do l LinkedIn
  • People often talk about barriers to ESG integration. Hiding places might be a better metaphor. If you ask an investment fiduciary to do something new, some (though not all) will seek out a number of things to hide behind as to why they can’t. The most popular hiding places have tended to be: fiduciary duties, investment consultants and lawyers. PRI is interested in eliminating hiding places. Through their work on fiduciary duty, building on the work of countless initiatives on that subject, we’ve reduced the size and effectiveness of that hiding place. This article discusses evidence that investment consultants are increasingly advising clients on ESG risks and analysis, though of course, laggard practices remain common.
  • This week Trillium Asset Management and more than 100 sustainable investors and businesses signed a letter urging the Administration and Congress to continue support for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Jointly organized by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and the American Sustainable Business Council, the letter defends the CFPB, which has provided strong regulatory oversight of the financial sector to protect the interests of consumers, communities, and businesses since 2010. Members of Congress have begun to re-write CFPB regulations, which have the power to limit funding in the future and remove the director.
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
Sweden Pledges to Cut All Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2045 l The Independent
  • Sweden has committed to completely phase out greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and called for all countries - including the US - to “step up and fulfill the Paris Agreement." In one of the most ambitious emissions plans published by a developed nation, the Swedish government has reaffirmed the urgency of tackling climate change, ignoring uncertainties about global policies under Donald Trump’s administration.
A Conservative Answer to Climate Change l The Wall Street Journal
  • This proposal, co-authored by conservative thinkers Martin Feldstein, Henry Paulson Jr., Gregory Mankiw, Ted Halstead, Tom Stephenson and Rob Walton, outlines a climate solution based on a sound economic analysis that embodies the conservative principles of free markets and limited government. It consists of four pillars: (1) a carbon tax to reduce emissions, (2) A “carbon dividend” payment, distributed to the American people on a quarterly basis, (3) a border adjustment for carbon content offering rebates for American companies exporting products and fees for carbon content of imported goods from other countries, and (4) the eventual elimination of regulations no longer necessary after the enactment of a carbon tax.
  • From stranded assets to increasing credit risks to missed opportunities in renewables, climate change could have a profound impact on banks. But, according to a recent report by Boston Common Asset Management, many banks are falling behind when it comes to assessing climate risk and only a few banks are performing environmental "stress tests." The report shows, however, that banks have improved in adopting climate strategies, and 23 out of the 28 banks surveyed implemented substantive policy changes related to climate-risk since 2015. In addition, over 80 percent of the banks have adopted more explicit oversight of climate risk at the board level.

Intentionally Designed Endowment Forum at Loyola University Chicago l IEN Blog

  • On November 1-2, 2016, a dynamic group of endowment leaders convened at Loyola University Chicago to connect with their peers and learn from investment experts about the fast-evolving field of sustainable investing -- covering a broad range of concepts and strategies including ESG integration, impact investing, mission-aligned investing, shareholder engagement and more. Participants heard from a variety of high-level speakers, including Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, as well as David Blood of Generation Management, Jeremy Coller of Coller Capital and the Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (FAIRR) initiative, and more. Visit the Forum page for more details on the event including links to presentations and videos of speaker sessions. 

Clean Energy 

Green Gigawatt Partnership: How to Apply for AASHE's On-Campus Solar Project Support | AASHE

  • AASHE is offering cost-free support for up to five campuses to develop and implement on-campus (or near campus) solar projects. Support will include site screening, stakeholder education, RFP development and support, and contract negotiation support. One page applications are due March 17th. More information is available in the recording of their recent webinar

General Endowment News
 
NEPC Survey: Endowment and Foundation Confidence near All Time Highs l Yahoo Finance
  • NEPC, LLC, one of the industry’s largest independent, full-service investment consulting firms to endowments and foundations, today made public the results of its Q4 2016 NEPC Endowment and Foundation Poll, a measure of endowment and foundation views on the economy, investing, and key market trends. The results show a significant increase in investor confidence, with 64% of respondents saying the US economy is in a better place now than at this time last year. This was a dramatic change from last quarter, when 25% indicated the same sentiment, and it was the second highest confidence reading since NEPC launched this survey in 2013. Only 7% of respondents this quarter feel the US economy is in a worse place now than one year ago.
Endowment Sweepstakes: How Tiny Houghton College Beat Harvard l The New York Times
  • The hotly competitive returns of college endowment performance are out, and the results have again shaken the higher education elite down to their Ivy League roots: The smallest endowments — those with total assets under $25 million — outperformed their billion-dollar-plus rivals for the second year.
Fossil Fuel and Private Prison Divestment
 
Cambridge University Clashes With Own Academics Over Climate Change l Financial Times
  • The University of Cambridge has become embroiled in an internal battle after executives at the UK’s richest educational institution clashed with academics over proposals to divest from fossil fuels.Last month the university’s governing body, which is made up of senior academic and administrative staff from its 31 colleges, passed a motion to divest Cambridge’s £5.8bn endowment from fossil fuels. In an unprecedented break from university tradition, Cambridge’s council, its executive arm that sets policy, has said it will not follow through with the governing body’s calls for divestment within the next 12 months.
Grinnell College Students Hold Sit-in to Demand Divestment in Fossil Fuels l The Des Moines Register
  • Nearly 10 percent of the Grinnell College student body occupied the Nollen House and the office of President Raynard Kington during a sit-in last week, working to convince him to endorse divesting the portion of Grinnell College's endowment in fossil fuels. "Our President has a choice to stand with the Trump administration or he can stand with students and Iowa community members. Climate change is real, and it's a crisis," one student said.
University of California-Wide Protest Urges UC Divestment from Fossil Fuels l The Bottom Line
  • The UC-wide protest, held last week across all nine UC campuses, was sparked by President Donald Trump’s approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline construction, reversing the decision made in the last month of President Obama’s term. Students gathered on to express outrage against the order and urge the UC regents to take a stand by divesting the remaining $1.7 billion invested in fossil fuels by the UC system. The total $1.7 billion supports both the Dakota Access Pipeline and fracking across the state.
  • In this guest column, Matthew Countryman, a Yale alumnus ('86), discusses the movement in the 70s and 80s to divest from South Africa and how that movement and its results compare to the fossil fuel divestment movement and the political climate today.
Potential Referendum Urges University of South Florida Foundation to Divest l The Oracle
  • A controversial petition that urges the USF Foundation to divest from "companies complicit in human rights violations," among other issues, is being pushed for placement as a referendum on the Student Government (SG) election ballot next month. The petition, titled "USF Divest From Fossil Fuels, Private Prison and Companies Complicit in Human Rights Violations," also calls for the Foundation to divest from companies that have a direct connection with contributing to the use of fossil fuels, funding private prisons and investing "in human rights violations in Palestine and Yemen."
Tulane University Student Government Passes Legislation Encouraging Tulane to Divest From Fossil Fuels l Tuland Hullabaloo
  • This week, Tulane's Undergraduate Student Government passed legislation that calls on the University to divest funds from fossil fuel companies. The debate around this resolution lasted around 40 minutes and led to a 27-6-1 vote in favor. A significant part of this resolution was based on a referendum in Spring 2016 of around 2,100 students which led to a 54 percent to 28 percent result in support of divestment. 
Oregon State University Nudges Toward Divestment of Some of its Fossil Fuel Holdings l Portland Tribune
  • Oregon State University affiliates have taken two steps to advance the divestment movement targeting fossil fuel companies. The OSU Board of Trustees voted 11-0 in late January to approve an amendment to the state Public University Fund Investment Policy that calls on the fund to divest its current intermediate and long-term assets in fossil fuel-related stocks, and to restrict future investment in those assets. In a separate action, the OSU Foundation recently agreed to establish a second portfolio for donors that will be free of fossil fuel holdings. The foundation decided it was best to give donors the choice of where their money goes, said OSU President Ed Ray.
Ithaca College Refrains From Fossil Fuel Divestment l The Ithacan
  • Ithaca College  currently has about 2.1 percent of its $270 million endowment invested in fossil fuels, said Janet Williams, interim vice president for administration and finance. Williams said the college does not want to divest from fossil fuels because it would require changing the college’s investment policies and portfolio. She said the current portfolio and policies allow for the college to participate in sustainable practices like the solar array, which went live in November, LEED Certified buildings and environmental research.
The University of Maryland Should Divest From the Prison-Industrial Complex (Opinion) l The Diamond Back
  • This opinion piece outlines The University of Marylands involvement with Maryland Correctional Enterprises, the history behind the issue, and the movement to divest from all involvement.

Investment Manager & Strategies News

Deutsche AM Launches Fixed Income ESG ETF l Investment Week

  • Deutsche Asset Management is launching a fixed income ETF focusing on investing in ESG corporate bonds. To be included, index bonds have to be investment-grade rated and be at least €300m in size as well as meeting the ETF's SRI requirements.

MSCI Launches ESG Universal Equity Indexes for Long-Term Global Investors l Business Wire
  • MSCI Inc., a leading provider of research-based indexes and analytics and the world’s largest provider of environmental, social and governance (ESG) indexes2, announced today the launch of new MSCI ESG Universal Indexes and the renaming of two MSCI ESG Index families. The MSCI ESG Universal Indexes are designed to enable pension funds, endowments and other asset owners to better focus on ESG issues in their investment decision-making processes.

 

 

 

Add your reaction Share

Weekly News Round-Up: February 3rd, 2017

New Initiatives / Action Opportunities 
 
Framework for U.S. Stewardship and Governance | Investor Stewardship Group (ISG)
  • The corporate governance Framework articulates six principles that the ISG believes are fundamental to good corporate governance at U.S. listed companies. They reflect the common corporate governance beliefs that are embedded in each member’s proxy voting and engagement guidelines, and are designed to establish a foundational set of investor expectations about corporate governance practices in U.S. publicly-listed companies. The Framework goes into effect January 1, 2018 to give U.S. companies time to adjust to these standards in advance of the 2018 proxy season. ISG encourages other investors to sign up and support the framework. 
  • Nearly 20 leading global banks and investors, totaling $6.6 trillion in assets, launched today the Principles for Positive Impact Finance - a first of its kind set of criteria for investments to be considered sustainable.The Principles are part of a broader process under the Positive Impact Manifesto, launched in 2015 to call for a new, impact-based financing paradigm to bridge the gap in financing for sustainable development.
Month of Action #DAPL | First Peoples Worldwide
  • First Peoples Worldwide has issued a call to action for investors to engage in shareholder advocacy with the companies and banks involved with the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Proxy season is from March to July. If you are an asset owner or asset manager interested in joining the Investors and Indigenous Peoples Working Group contact SHeim@BostonCommonAsset.com 

 

New Reports
 
  • The 2016 NCSE results are based on 805 U.S. college and university endowments and affiliated foundations, representing $515 billion in endowment assets. Of the participants, 17% said they seek to include in their portfolios investments ranking high on ESG criteria, a 2% increase year over year. 27% said they exclude or screen out investments that are inconsistent with the institution’s mission, also up 2% from the previous Study, while 17% said that they allocate a portion of the endowment to investments that further the institution’s mission compared with 16% that did so last year. 8% said they were considering changing their investment policy to include integration of ESG practices in their investment process, up from 7%, while 69% said they were not doing so, compared with last year’s 70%. 
  • This new document from Ceres aims to increase understanding, transparency, and accountability regarding responsible palm oil production by providing a shared set of reporting guidance for companies across the supply chain. Its primary purpose is to inform the content of public corporate communications and transparency on responsible production and sourcing activities including and beyond certification.
The State of Green Business 2017 l Green Biz
  • This report, published by GreenBiz Group in partnership with Trucost, provides a global view on sustainable business, from basic emissions to leadership attributes, such as how many stock exchanges around the world require listed companies to disclose environmental data, or the amount of money being divested from fossil fuel company stocks.
Scaling Up Green Bond Markets for Sustainable Development l Climate Bonds Initiative
  • Scaling up Green Bond Markets for Sustainable Development offers detailed action plans and best-practice examples on how to scale green bond markets. This Public Sector Guide is the result of a partnership between the Climate Bonds Initiative and the UNEP Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System. The Guide includes an annex from the World Bank Group as an additional resource for policymakers in emerging economies to assist them in foundational bond market development.
 
Upcoming Events

2017 Presidential Climate Leadership Summit | Second Nature, February 13-15, 2017, Tempe, AZ

  • IEN members will be delivering a plenary panel on factoring climate and sustainability considerations into the endowment investment process; and IEN will be hosting a half-day workshop on endowment investing. 

Webinar: ICCR's 2017 Proxy Season Overview l Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, February 13, 2017 11:30 AM ET

  • Join ICCR as they discuss which issues ICCR members are focused on this proxy season, and to feature new and interesting resolutions/campaigns being launched this year. Featured speakers include Tim Smith, Walden Asset Management; Austin Wilson, As You Sow; Mary Minette, Mercy Investment Services; and Cathy Rowan, Trinity Health.

Trillion Dollar Transformation Outreach Event l Trillion Dollar Transformation, February 23, 2017, New York City, NY
  • During this event Trillion Dollar Transformation will outline the results of their reports and offer useful advice and tips to take back to the boardroom. Trustees of public pension plans though staff and advisors may find the information relevant. The event is free to attend.

Webinar: Proxy Voting and Shareholder Engagement for Endowments l Intentional Endowments Network, February 27, 2017, 12:30 - 1:30 PM ET

  • The webinar will provide an overview of the value of proxy voting and additional forms of engagement for endowments that are involved in commingled funds through an outsourced CIO – including the current landscape, trends, specific issues, and why it is important for investors. Guidelines and opportunities of how to take action will also be provided.

Visit the website for more upcoming events

 

 Socially Responsible / ESG Investing

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how investors may start asking retailers and restaurants for more transparency on their treatment of cows, pigs and chickens; banks and investors target sustainable development financing; Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. has plans for a new climate change fund; asset managers and owners team up on governance principles; and a Q&A with Green Century Capital Management's Leslie Samuelrich reveals that she prefers divestment to engagement with fossil fuel companies.
$17trn Group of US and Global Institutional Investors Launch US Stewardship Code l Responsible Investor
  • Some of the world’s leading institutional investors have got together to set up a multi-point US stewardship code. Under the banner of the Investor Stewardship Group they have unveiled the ‘Framework for U.S. Stewardship and Governance’ after a two-year effort. The group is calling on “every institutional investor and asset management firm” investing in the the country to sign up to the framework. They are calling it a “historic, sustained initiative” to establish a framework of basic standards of investment stewardship and corporate governance for institutional investor and boardroom conduct. The framework features six fundamental principles for both investors and companies and is the latest ‘stewardship code’ since the first in the UK back in 2010.
  • Investors - from individuals to institutional giants – are seeing the social and financial value of aligning purpose with profit and it’s increasingly important for your brand to define, measure and share your purpose driven-mission for the benefit of humanity and your bottom-line. This article lists five steps you can use to leverage your purpose to make your company more attractive to investors and improve financial performance.
American Investment Titans Push Back Against Trump on Green Issues l NIKKEI Asian Review
  • Institutional investors are voicing concern about the impact of U.S. President Donald Trump's administration on the environment and climate change. Participants at the December conference of the International Corporate Governance Network -- whose members comprise mainly large American and European institutional investors -- expressed interest in corporate ESG efforts and information disclosure. Their discussions generally suggested strong concern about the Trump administration.
ESG: UN Goals Strike a Chord l Investments & Pensions Europe
  • The UN Sustainable Development Goals, agreed by world leaders in September 2015, have captured the imagination of many in the European institutional investment community. In this article, Susanna Rust asks why.
  • ESG issues are no longer just about excluding so-called sin stocks or applying value judgements-- they can be a source of added value, says Minsters and Missionaries Benefit Board's Matthew Sherwood in this Q&A. 

 

Impact Investing
 
More Evidence Of Impact Investing Growth--And What It Means For Social Entrepreneurs l Forbes
  • Sustainable, responsible and impact (SRI) investing is expanding, offering new opportunities for social enterprises, especially those registered as Benefit Corporations. Those are some of the implications of a recent study conducted by the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (US SIF) Foundation ‘s report, US Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing Trends 2016, according to Meg Voorhes, director of research. Specifically, the biennial report found that SRI assets have expanded to $8.72 trillion in the U.S., a 33% increase from 2014. That’s a significant portion of total assets under management.

 

Green Bonds
 
Green Bonds Highlights 2016 l Climate Bonds Initiative 
  • June this year will mark a decade since the very first green bond was issued by the European Investment Bank (EIB). 2016 has shown how far the market has developed, with annual issuance aligned with international definitions reaching a record USD81bn, equivalent to approximately USD9.2m raised every hour!

 

General Endowment News
 
  • College and university endowments’ net returns declined for the second straight year in 2016, dropping into negative territory and posting their worst results since the depths of the financial crisis. Endowments returned an average of -1.9 percent in the 2016 fiscal year that ended in June, net of fees, according to an annual survey released Tuesday by the National Association of College and University Business officers and the nonprofit asset management firm Commonfund. That’s significantly below last year’s return of 2.4 percent and follows a decade of volatile ups and downs.
College Endowment Returns Sink to Their Lowest Level Since The Financial Crisis l The Washington Post
  • University endowments posted the lowest investment returns since the 2008 financial crisis, yet schools upped their spending in fiscal 2016, according to a survey released Tuesday by CommonFund and the National Association of College and University Business Officers. Endowments have been on shaky ground coming out of the recession. Average annual returns have volleyed since plummeting 18.7 percent in 2009. In the 12 months ending June 30, endowments at 805 colleges and universities recorded a negative 1.9 percent return, compared to 2.4 percent growth the prior fiscal year, according to the survey.
Endowment Gains Aren’t Enough for Schools Facing Rising Expenses l Bloomberg
  • School endowments contribute annually to student aid, faculty salaries and other costs in their operating budgets. Spending, which is often determined by three- or five-year averages of investment returns, is coming under increasing pressure as endowments struggle to keep up with historical results. Boards of trustees and investment committees are re-calibrating expectations for performance, said Paul Dimitruk, chairman of Partners Capital, which handles investments for clients including endowments and foundations.

 

Climate Science, Risk & Regulation
 
  • ExxonMobil has appointed a leading atmospheric scientist to its board as it bolsters its response to concerns about climate change. Susan Avery, a former director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, was elected a director with effect from February 1. Ms. Avery is a respected scientist who has specialized in atmospheric dynamics and variability, and has worked extensively on climate change. 
Investor Groups React to US Plans to Become ‘World’s Largest Energy Producer’ (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • US investor groups have called on President Donald Trump to ensure a swift transition to a low-carbon economy, as Trump advisor Myron Ebell says the US will clearly change its course on climate policy, withdraw from the Paris Agreement and remain a fossil fuel-based economy.
Scientists Grade Climate Risk For Investors l pys.org
  • A new report by CICERO Climate Finance identifies the biggest risks of climate change for investors. The report finds that some impacts are already happening earlier than anticipated and new ones are expected in the time horizon used by investors. The report shades climate risks red, orange or yellow, reflecting whether impacts are observed and likely to increase (red), are expected in the next decade (orange), or by mid-century (yellow).

  • Surrounded by students, Colorado State University President Tony Frank signed a pledge Jan. 25 to commit the university to being powered by 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030. More than 4,300 students, faculty and staff had signed a petition encouraging the university to consider the pledge. Faculty, staff and students from The President’s Sustainability Committee, Live Green Teams, and the Green Guard also endorsed the pledge.
SparkFund Raises $7 Million to Transform Access to Energy Technology l Yahoo Finance
  • SparkFund, a Washington D.C.-based financial technology company, announced today the close of a $7 million Series B investment led by Energy Impact Partners. Round participants include existing investor Vision Ridge Partners and new strategic partners in the energy and utility space, with a total expected raise of $10 million. The new funding will allow SparkFund to rapidly grow partnerships and customer reach, giving organizations across the U.S. a simpler way to access new energy technology. Customers understand that they can save money with energy-efficient equipment upgrades, such as LED lighting or smart HVAC technology, but widespread adoption in the commercial sector has been slow.

 

Fossil Fuel Divestment

Interview with Don Gould, Trustee at Pitzer College, About Their Decision to Divest From Fossil Fuels l Toward Ecological Civilization

  • Don Gould is the president and chief investment officer of Gould Asset Management. He is also a trustee of Pitzer College, one of the five prestigious Claremont Colleges. Working together with other trustees, Mr. Gould played an important role in the recent board decision to divest Pitzer’s portfolio of fossil fuel stocks. In this interview, Mr. Gould describes the board and community process that led to the divestment decision, and the deeper values that motivated him to play a leadership role in this process.
‘Divestment is Our Goal’: Seattle City Council to Vote on Pulling $3 Billion From Wells Fargo over Dakota Access Pipeline l Seattle Times
  • Hundreds of anti-pipeline demonstrators gathered Wednesday morning in downtown Seattle to encourage City Council members to pull $3 billion from Wells Fargo Bank because of its role as a Dakota Access Pipeline lender. The committee voted unanimously to forward the bill to the full City Council on Monday. In addition to terminating the city’s contract with Wells Fargo, the bill would also require that social-justice principles be considered when awarding all city contracts, including construction projects.
As Wells Fargo Divestment Approaches, Where Should Seattle Put Its $3 Billion? l Seattle Weekly
  • “We’re all here today to make sure we divest from Wells Fargo,” said Councilmember Debra Juarez, of the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods & Finance Committee. The question on councilmembers’ minds wasn’t whether or not to divest from Wells Fargo—which the committee voted unanimously to do. “The challenge,” a councilmember said, “is to find alternatives.” A full Council vote will take place next Monday, but if Wednesday’s committee discussion was any indication, Seattle will likely become the first city in the country to move all of its money from a financial institution in part for its ties with the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • The Navajo Nation is making moves to join a growing number of tribes that have already respectfully, but conclusively, shown Wells Fargo the door.
Irish Parliament Passes Historic Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill l Good News Network
  • Last week, Irish Parliament passed a historic bill that would lead Ireland to becoming the first country in the world to divest its sovereign wealth from coal, oil, and gas. The Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill will divest over $8.5 billion from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund. The legislation passed in a 90 to 53 majority vote will be reviewed by the financial committee before becoming law.
  • According to a report assembled by UW System Student Representatives, as of December 2016, 641 institutions across the nation have made a commitment to divest from fossil fuel companies, equaling an approximate value of $3.4 trillion. In the spring of 2016, a motion was introduced to the UW System Student Representatives calling for their support in total financial divestment from fossil fuel companies. The UW System Student Representatives passed the resolution, which was sent to all UW foundations and chancellors, demonstrating student backing in complete divestment from the top 200 fossil fuel companies by all UW System foundations by 2022. Students are currently waiting for a response from the foundations.
Student Petition Calls for Washington University Divestment From Fossil Fuels l studentlife.com
  • Fossil Free WashU (FFWU), the Washington University chapter of a national Fossil Free movement, is calling for the University to divest from fossil fuels through an online petition launched last week that has garnered over 300 signatures. The group demands that Chancellor Mark Wrighton and the Board of Trustees immediately divest the University’s endowment from the 200 “dirtiest” fossil fuel companies headquartered in St. Louis. In addition, FFWU is calling for all endowment investments and proxy voting to be made completely transparent.
Appalachian State University Students Walk Out To Campaign For Fossil Fuel Divestment l The Appalachian
  • Students at ASU gathered last week as part of a national day of action to petition ASU to reinvest its fossil fuel assets into more socially responsible alternatives.
Swarthmore College Students and Professors Walkout, Teach-In for Divestment l The Daily Gazette
  • Last week students At Swarthmore College walked out of classes and gathered to send a message protesting the dangers of climate change denial. Around the nation, similar movements have been occurring in a myriad of academic institutions. This was the Walk out and Teach-in, organized by Mountain Justice, a group advocating divestment from fossil fuel industries to aid in the fight against climate change. Spurred by the recent political situation in our nation’s highest offices, the group endeavored to inform the attendants about the effects of climate change and emphasized the urgency they feel due to the recently appointed administration surrounding the new president, Trump.
University of Montana Students Agitate Against Climate Deniers in Trump Administration, Advocate for Divestment l The Missoulian
  • Last week roughly 100 students and a least a couple faculty members at the University of Montana demonstrated against the climate skepticism in Trump's administration by walking out of class and standing together. Reinvest Montana organized the event, part of a national walkout, as part of its campaign to urge the UM Foundation to divest of fossil fuels.
University of Denver Rejects Divestment as “Unrealistic” l Inside Sources
  • Last Tuesday, the University of Denver’s board of trustees announced its decision not to divest. The board agreed with students’ concerns about climate climate and the need to develop alternative sources of energy. Instead of divestment, though, the university opted to establish a new “green fund” to investigate new sustainability efforts and will offer donors alternative investment options if they are morally opposed to making an endowment donation that might be invested in fossil fuels.

 

Investment Manager and Product News

UBS Launches Sustainable Corporate Bond ETF l FT Adviser

  • UBS Asset Management has launched an exchange-traded fund (ETF) providing access to eurozone corporate bonds that have been screened for sustainability. The UBS ETF Barclays MSCI Euro Area Liquid Corporates Sustainable product seeks issuers with an MSCI ESG rating of BBB or higher from its index. Securities issued by corporations whose business activities are "inconsistent" with socially responsible investing (SRI) criteria are excluded. This includes alcohol, tobacco, gambling, civilian firearms and military weapons.
Northern Trust unveils industry-first sustainable real estate index | ETF Strategy
  • Northern Trust Asset Management has launched the Northern Trust GRESB Developed Real Estate ESG Index, a unique sustainable real estate index tracking the performance of developed market real estate investment trusts (REITs) with strong responsible investment characteristics. It may serve as the basis for future investment products including exchange-traded funds. The index was created in collaboration with GRESB, an investor-driven organization committed to assessing the ESG performance of real assets globally, and representing over $3tn in assets under management.

 

 

 

Add your reaction Share

Weekly News Round-Up: January 27th, 2017

New IEN Members
 
New Reports
 
  • Just published by the Journal of Sustainable Finance & Investment and available on Granito's website, the study relied on the Dow Jones Sustainability index to identify 157 companies that have good ESG performance. To contrast, and in order to bring statistical significance to the results, it randomly selected a greater number of companies — 809 — that are not listed on the DJSI. As the materiality of the ESG factors is highly related to the industry in which the firm operates, the study grouped equity stocks into 12 industries.  In all 12 industries studied, the group of ESG companies listed in the DJSI, shows lower stock return volatility in comparison to the reference companies — on average by 28.67 percentage points less.
Better Business, Better World l Business and Sustainable Development Coalition
  • Over the past 30 years, the world has seen huge social improvements and technological progress. We have experienced unprecedented economic growth and lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. We’re benefiting from a life-changing digital revolution that could help solve our most pressing social and environmental challenges. Yet despite these successes, our current model of development is deeply flawed. This report offers a positive alternative: setting business strategy and transforming markets in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Climate Investing in 2017 l Cornerstone Capital Group
  • The imperative for an effective response to climate change only grows following the hottest year on record. This commentary discusses the risks climate investing faces in 2017, particularly from the incoming US administration, and looks to nuanced opportunities that exist for positive environmental and social impact coupled with attractive potential returns. 
 
 
Sustainable / ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how State Street Global Advisors, which oversees $2.47 trillion, is pressing companies to disclose much more about how they are preparing for the impact of climate change on their businesses, as well as Pimco betting it can turn the bond market onto sustainable investing; Sarona Asset Management raising a new fund-of-funds to invest in ESG vehicles; annual isurance of green bonds reaching a record $95.1 billion; and the opportunity that is arising from growing consumer demand for plant-based protein.
  • In this Q&A, Erika Karp discusses what it takes, besides imagination,  to operationalize a regenerative and inclusive form of capitalism.
The DOL Shuffled (Again) But It Was Good For ESG Investors l Seeking Alpha
  • The Department of Labor issued an Interpretive Bulletin that reversed an Interpretive Bulletin from 2008 and it is good for some ESG investors. In 2017, we will see more shareholder activism related to issues such as the appropriateness of executive compensation, corporate governance reforms, and climate change. Fiduciaries may now consider voting on proxies introduced by activist shareholders or initiated by themselves, many of which will connect to environmental, social, and governance issues. Broadly, the Bulletin makes way for shareholder engagement on “non-financial measures of corporate performance.”
PIMCO, Lombard Odier, Northern Trust Unveil ESG, Climate Change Funds l Pensions & Investments Europe
  • A flurry of ESG fund announcements from major asset managers last week underscores the mainstreaming of responsible investment, including through its integration in asset classes beyond equities. US fixed-income investment manager PIMCO announced that it had launched an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investment platform that aimed to offer “a range of fixed income solutions to investors seeking attractive returns while making a positive social impact”.
  • In this article, an Inside ETFs panel discusses whether ESG is out of step with government. 

Archdiocese of Toronto Among Growing Number Making Move to Ethical Investing l The Catholic Register

  • Beginning in 2015, the Archdiocese of Toronto instructed its investment managers to consider environmental, social and governance factors (ESG) before making investment decisions with its master trust fund worth $528 million. Canada’s largest and richest archdiocese has also joined the Shareholder Association for Research and Education — SHARE. The organization consists of more than 30 institutional investors across Canada with combined assets under management of more than $14 billion, including the United Church of Canada and Canadian Labour Congress.
Seattle City Employees Puts BlackRock on Watch Over ESG Concerns l Pensions & Investments
  • Seattle City Employees' Retirement System placed BlackRock (BLK), which runs a $339 million passive international equity portfolio for the pension fund, on watch, said Jason Malinowski, chief investment officer, in an email. The $2.3 billion pension fund put BlackRock on watch at its Dec. 8 board meeting due to concerns about what they term as BlackRock's “reticence to oppose management, limited focus on environmental and social issues, inconsistency between their proxy voting record with their policies and public pronouncements and limited transparency on investment stewardship activities.”

 

  • In the past two years BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, launched a new division called “Impact”; Goldman Sachs, an investment bank, acquired an impact-investment firm, Imprint Capital; and two American private-equity firms, Bain Capital and TPG, launched impact funds. The main driver of all this activity is investor demand. Deborah Winshel, boss of BlackRock Impact, points to the transfer of wealth to women and the young, whose investment goals, she says, transcend mere financial returns. Among institutions, sources of demand have moved beyond charitable foundations to hard-bitten pension funds and insurers.
Amplifying Impact with Mission Investments l Stanford Social Innovation Review
  • Mission investments are a proven tool that enables us to seize time-sensitive opportunities and grow promising innovations in ways we could not with grants alone. These investments help attract new sources of private capital to the issues we care about and recycle resources to make more dollars available over the long-term.This article focuses on the Packard Foundation and their three new approaches to make an impact on climate change over the next 5-10 years.
 
Green Bonds
 
Global Green Bond Issuance Could Rise to $206 Billion in 2017 After Record in 2016 l Economic Times
  • Moody's Investors Service said that global green bond issuance will reach another record in 2017, and could even rise to $206 billion, following an increase of 120% to $93.4 billion in 2016, reflecting strong China-based issuances and momentum from the Paris Climate agreement.

 

Shareholder Engagement
 
Is Your Mutual Fund Company Taking Climate Change Seriously? l Ceres
  • This article examines how the nation’s largest mutual fund companies voted on climate-related shareholder resolutions in 2015 and 2016. After reviewing results, it goes on to offer possible explanations for the way in which funds voted.

 

Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
Will We Ever Stop Using Fossil Fuels? l MIT News
  • In recent years, proponents of clean energy have taken heart in the falling prices of solar and wind power, hoping they will drive an energy revolution. But a new study co-authored by an MIT professor suggests otherwise: Technology-driven cost reductions in fossil fuels will lead us to continue using all the oil, gas, and coal we can, unless governments pass new taxes on carbon emissions. “If we don’t adopt new policies, we’re not going to be leaving fossil fuels in the ground,” says Christopher Knittel, an energy economist at the MIT Sloan School of Management. “We need both a policy like a carbon tax and to put more R&D money into renewables.”
Business Leadership on Climate Seen as Key l Yale Climate Connections
  • It’s challenging to predict how corporate interests might address climate change under a new Trump administration, and it’s important to acknowledge the broad diversity of those interests. However, there are signs that key segments of the businesses community may continue down the path toward reducing carbon emissions, notwithstanding strong winds in the opposite direction from the Trump administration.

 

Clean Energy
 
Theresa May Seeks Clean Energy to Buoy Vision of Global Britain l Bloomberg New Energy Finance
  • U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May plans to try to turn the nation’s early adoption of clean energy into a global business after Brexit, according to a new industrial-strategy paper. May has said she wants a “global Britain” to bolster the U.K.’s ties to other countries as the nation secedes from the European Union. The U.K. is a world leader in wind energy with more offshore wind power installed than any other country. That industry drew a record $29.9 billion of investment last year, up 40 percent from 2015.

 

General Endowment News
 
Harvard Endowment to Lay Off Half Its Staff l The Wall Street Journal
  • Harvard University’s endowment fund, which is the largest in the world, is planning to lay off half of its staff and ask outside funds to run its investments. This article explores why Harvard and many of its endowment peers are making similar moves.

 

Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
Oregon State University Board Votes to Divest l Corvallis Gazette-Times
  • Responding to calls from students and faculty concerned about global warming, the Oregon State University Board of Trustees voted last week to dump the university’s investments in the fossil fuel industry. Specifically, the board amended the investment policy for the Public University Fund, which manages investment assets for six of Oregon’s seven public universities (the University of Oregon is not a participant). Under an agreement with the other member universities, OSU has authority to set investment policy for the group.
Divest Appalachian Group Requests App State University Divest Fossil Fuels Investments l HCPress.com
  • This week, Divest Appalachian, a student organization, held a march and rally on Appalachian State University to request that the institution divest its fossil fuels investments in its Board of Trustees’ Endowment and Appalachian State University Foundation portfolios. About 50 people, primarily students, gathered on Sanford Mall and marched throughout the campus before ending the peaceful protest by delivering its request in a letter to administrators.
  • As President Trump's Cabinet nominees work their way through the confirmation process, local college students walked out of classes on Monday to protest their positions on key issues including climate change. Students at Boston University, Harvard, Northeastern, took part in walkouts and other actions as part of the nationwide divestment day of action.
Denver University Won’t Divest From Oil and Gas, But Board Approves New Green Initiatives l The Denver Post
  • University of Denver trustees have rejected a student-led request to pull investments from oil, natural gas and coal companies from the private school’s $620 million endowment.Instead, the board and administration approved new initiatives to strengthen sustainability efforts at DU, including the creation of a $5 million “green fund” that will pay for solar panels, composting and other projects. Trustees also will begin requiring frequent reports regarding the university’s efforts to combat global warming, ranging from the food ordered by the dining hall to faculty research on alternatives to fossil fuel.

 

Investment Manager & Strategy News
 
Northern Trust Asset Management Launches Unique Sustainable Real Estate Index and Fund in Conjunction with GRESB l Business Wire
  • Northern Trust Asset Management, collaborating with GRESB, the global sustainability benchmark for real assets, has launched a unique sustainable real estate index. A Dutch-domiciled pooled fund passively managed to this new index has also been launched.The industry-first index is exclusively available to investors using Northern Trust Asset Management vehicles and has been developed in response to demand for a passive approach to real estate investing incorporating environment, social and governance (ESG) factors.

 

 

 

 

 

Add your reaction Share

Weekly News Round-Up: January 20th, 2017

Upcoming Events
 
Webinar: 2017 ESG Trends To Watch l MSCI, January 24, 2017, 11:00 AM EST
  • This year may usher in a fundamental rethink for investors. Underlying all the major trends we identified for 2017 is a strategic decision point – do we change the way we think about investing, or is this business as usual in a new order? Join the authors of the 2017 ESG Trends to Watch Report, including MSCI’s Global Head of ESG Research Linda-Eling Lee, for an overview of the biggest ESG forces affecting institutional investors over the long haul.
2017 Presidential Climate Leadership Summit | Second Nature, February 13-15, 2017, Tempe, AZ
  • This Summit celebrates the 10th anniversary Second Nature's Climate Leadership Network (formerly the ACUPCC). It is designed for campus sustainability teams, including specialized content for presidents, faculty, staff, and endowment professionals. IEN members will be delivering a plenary panel on factoring climate and sustainability considerations into the endowment investment process; and IEN will be hosting a half-day workshop on endowment investing. 

 

Sustainable / ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Investing
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how impact investors are looking to put capital to work to address global wealth gaps; how low-carbon active managers have been outperforming; a Q&A with DBL Partners founder Nancy Pfund on the business push for low-carbon energy policy; and a look at how Ford Motor Co. is looking to hire more workers with autism as companies seek to broaden their diversity push.
World's Largest Fund Manager Demands Cuts to Executive Pay and Bonuses l The Guardian
  • BlackRock is demanding cuts to director pension entitlements and an end to huge pay rises as UK companies prepare to put their latest pay deals to shareholders. In a letter to the bosses of more than 300 UK companies, the US fund manager said it would only approve salary rises for top executives if firms increase workers’ wages by a similar amount.
On Borrowed Time: New Report Finds Banks Making Slow Progress in Fast Changing Climate l Boston Common Asset Management
  • A new report examining 28 of the world’s largest banks on their management of climate-related risks concludes they are failing to align their business practices with targets to keep global temperature rises below two degrees. The investor assessment comes despite praising banks for introducing measures such as climate stress testing, carbon footprinting and governance for climate risk.
Sustainable Investing: Not Just About Returns l Investor Daily
  • As ESG issues take center stage in 2017, investors should be looking at whether including ESG criteria improves measures other than profitability, writes Investec Asset Management’s Justin Simler. 
Why Smart Investors are Targeting the Companies Solving the World’s Sustainability Problems l Eco-Business
  • Investors today are thinking green and channelling their funds towards sustainable investments. In this article WRI's David Richardson explains why top investors are interested in companies that deal with sustainability.
Color it Greenery: As Government Steps Back, Sustainable Investors Step Up l ImpactAlpha
  • Sustainability and climate change will not be high on the Trump administration’s priority list. For business, investors, tech innovators, and entrepreneurs, this a call to action. If sustainability is to keep moving forward, it’s up to the private sector now. In the pro-business environment ahead, the greatest opportunities await mission-driven, impact-focused companies and investors.

 

Impact Investing
 
  • Swiss banking giant UBS has committed to investing at least $5bn of private client assets to Sustainable Development Goal-related impact investing, in a strategy that includes partnering with the Rise Fund – a new $2bn social impact fund.
  • According to a 2016 survey conducted by the Global Impact Investor Network, more impact investors – a third of all respondents – plan to boost investment in food and agriculture than in any other sector.
Millennials Drive Growth in ‘Impact Investing’ l The Boston Globe
  • Millennials are 15 percent more inclined to stick with an ESG-oriented investment, according to Schroders Investment Management. Millennials will play an increasingly important role in popularizing ESG investing as their earnings rise and they invest some of the $59 trillion they will inherit, according to a report by the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College.
Impact Investing - A Sustainable Strategy for Hedge Funds l Deloitte
  • Nearly a decade after its arrival on the social finance scene, impact investing is still growing in popularity. Hedge fund managers have been slow to adopt the strategy, although other types of investment managers are already gathering assets in this space. Yet as the hedge fund industry continues to face performance headwinds, it may be time to take a closer look at how this type of sustainable investing may support alpha generation.

 

Fiduciary Duty
 
Fiduciary Duty Overview For Endowments And Foundations: Integrating Nonprofit Mission Goals Into Investment Practices l Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren S.C.
  • This overview is intended to provide investment fiduciaries with a summary of how fiduciary duties apply to mission-aligned investing, such as strategies that incorporate material ESG factors into investment analysis.  It shows that prudent adoption of mission-aligned investment techniques can be consistent with fiduciary duty.

 

General Higher Education News
 
What a Trump Presidency Might Mean for Higher Education l BU Today
  • What will President Donald Trump do about student college debt? Or visas commonly used by international students and researchers? Or how universities use their endowments? (He has said he plans to pressure colleges and universities with large endowments to spend more on students or, if they don’t, face loss of their tax-exempt status). This article asks BU experts for their take on what a Trump administration and the new Congress might mean on these and other pressing higher education matters.

 

 
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
Massachusetts Attorney General Wins Showdown With Exxon Mobil l The Boston Globe
  • Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey won a major legal showdown against Exxon Mobil last week when Suffolk Superior Court Judge Heidi E. Brieger ruled that the company must turn over 40 years of documents on climate change. Brieger denied the company an emergency motion or a protective order that would have blocked Healey’s demand for the company’s internal research on global warming.
Davos Elite Focus on Climate Change, Ignoring Trump’s Skepticism l Bloomberg
  • Donald Trump has often ridiculed global warming and promised to withdraw the U.S. from the accord signed in Paris in 2015. Yet despite the shift in political weather in Washington, the captains of business and finance gathered in Davos this week will spend a lot of time talking about climate change. The World Economic Forum is devoting 15 sessions of its 2017 annual meeting to climate change, and nine more to clean energy -- the most ever on these issues.

Obama Administration Sending $500 Million to Global Climate Change Fund l Wall Street Journal

  • The Obama administration announced this week it is funneling $500 million to a global fund to address climate change, one of the final acts President Barack Obama is taking to preserve his environmental legacy and the U.S.’s role in an international climate agreement.
No Hoax: 2016 Was the Hottest Year on Record l Bloomberg
  • This article outlines 137 years of diligently kept scientific records that show how humans are transforming Earth’s climate. Temperature rise is shown in graphic form, and effects on the climate are explained as well.
You Live in a World Full of Risks: These Are The Biggest l World Economic Forum
  • In this year’s World Economic Forum annual survey, some 750 experts assessed 30 global risks, as well as 13 underlying trends that could amplify them or alter the interconnections between them.

 

Private Prison Divestment
  • Leaders of a campus organization advocating for Yale’s divestment from the private prison industry met with members of the University’s Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility this week. The meeting marks the latest development in a yearlong campaign led by the Yale Students for Prison Divestment.

 

 

 

Add your reaction Share

Weekly News Round-Up: January 13th, 2017

New IEN Member 
Upcoming Events
 
Webinar: KnowTheChain Benchmarking Findings l IENJanuary 19, 2017, 2:30-1:30pm ET
  • Benchmarks can play a powerful role in encouraging companies to uphold labor standards and protect workers’ rights. In 2016, KnowTheChain, a resource for businesses and investors to address forced labor abuses and human trafficking within their supply chains, benchmarked 60 large global companies on their efforts to address these risks. In this webinar, we will review the 2016 KnowTheChain benchmark findings and discuss how forced labor and human trafficking risks affect investors and can be addressed in their portfolios.
2017 Presidential Climate Leadership Summit | Second Nature, February 13-15, 2017, Tempe, AZ
  • This Summit celebrates the 10th anniversary Second Nature's Climate Leadership Network (formerly the ACUPCC). It is designed for campus sustainability teams, including specialized content for presidents, faculty, staff, and endowment professionals. IEN members will be delivering a plenary panel on factoring climate and sustainability considerations into the endowment investment process; and IEN will be hosting a half-day workshop on endowment investing. 
Webinar: 2017 ESG Trends to Watch | MSCI, January 24, 2017, 11:00a.m. ET
  • This year may usher in a fundamental rethink for investors. Underlying all the major trends we identified for 2017 is a strategic decision point – do we change the way we think about investing, or is this business as usual in a new order? Join the authors of the 2017 ESG Trends to Watch Report, including MSCI’s Global Head of ESG Research Linda-Eling Lee, for an overview of the biggest ESG forces affecting institutional investors over the long haul
Webinar: The 100 Most Overpaid CEOs 2017 | As You Sow, February 13, 2017, 2:00 p.m. ET
  • Join As You Sow’s Rosanna Landis Weaver and other leading compensation experts as they examine CEO pay through their upcoming report, The 100 Most Overpaid CEOs: Are Fund Managers Asleep at the Wheel? 
 New Resources
 
  • In Laudato Si, Pope Francis called on the Catholic community to recognize the urgency in addressing the climate change crisis that is looming.This report explores the Catholic community’s response to Laudato Si, specifically how institutions have changed their investing policies.
Sustainable / ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how investors looking to lower their impact on the planet may find that some funds labeled as "fossil fuel free" won't reduce their carbon footprint by as much as they hope, as well as the top environmental and climate policy outlooks around the world; how the Japanese are slowly embracing governance reforms; and how your mutual fund voted on climate change in 2016.

ESG in 2017: A Fundamental Rethink? l MSCI

  • This blog post highlights a new report from MSCI that explores the biggest ESG forces affecting institutional investors in 2017 and how they will affect the capital markets for the next decade.
4 Sustainable Investing Myths, Debunked l GreenBiz
  • In this article Elizabeth Lewis discusses the four most common myths WRI encountered when researching their new paper, "Navigating the Sustainable Investment Landscape." Their research included interviews with 115 investment professionals — including asset owners with $1.26 trillion under management — and they found that the prospects for sustainable investing are strong and overcoming key roadblocks will help the market reach a tipping point.

Graphic: ESG's Path l Pensions & Investments

  • This article highlights graphics that display the growth of ESG assets in the U.S., the dispersement of ESG assets by category focus, the percentage of ESG assets invested by sector, and comparable returns. 
ESG Factors Making Gains in Fixed-Income Portfolios l Pensions & Investments
  • Sources at consultants and money management firms said they are seeing increased interest from institutional investors in integrating ESG factors into fixed-income portfolios — something they are surprised has taken so long. Managers already integrating ESG factors into their fixed-income processes said they are also seeing increased inflows.
Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Jack Ma are Betting Big on This Sector l CNBC
  • One of every five dollars invested in the U.S. today targets sustainable investments, and , private capital is flowing there too. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma and other tech titans recently committed $1 billion to launching a new, low carbon energy fund. Warren Buffett's company is busy investing in new solar and wind energy projects, including the world's largest solar plant. And 84 major corporations have pledged to source 100 percent of their energy from renewables going forward.
  • According to a 2016 survey conducted by the GIIN, more impact investors – a third of all respondents – plan to boost investment in food and agriculture than in any other sector.
Shareholder Engagement
 
Is Your Mutual Fund Company Taking Climate Change Seriously? | Ceres
  • Ceres examined how the nation’s largest mutual fund companies voted on climate-related shareholder resolutions in 2015 and 2016. While the majority voted in favor of many climate-related resolutions, a number of the largest firms failed to support any of the resolutions, including big-name players such as American Funds, BlackRock, Dimensional, Fidelity, Pioneer, Putnam, and Vanguard. These firms collectively manage trillions of dollars in assets, and their support of climate resolutions could contribute to majority votes for some resolutions – resulting in enormous pressure on companies to disclose their plans for addressing wide-ranging climate-related risks.
  • Once again this year, dissident ExxonMobil stockholders have filed several resolutions with the company asking it to be more forthright in addressing the climate crisis. Submitted months before Exxon's annual meeting in May, by a twist of fate it has also helped set the stage for the senate confirmation hearing of Rex Tillerson, Exxon's former chief executive and Donald Trump's pick to become secretary of state.
  • More than 530 companies and 100 investors – from iconic Fortune 500 firms to small family-owned businesses – are calling on the Trump administration and the new Congress to support policies to accelerate a low-carbon future that will help curb climate change. The full statement of support, the list of signatories and an interactive map showing how widespread the business support is across the U.S. can be found here.
Church of England to Launch Climate Investment Tracker l Climate Home
  • Next week the Church of England will roll out a data analysis tool to help investors keep track of the climate risks facing businesses. Known as the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI), it will initially monitor trends in four energy-intensive sectors: oil & gas, mining, utilities and vehicles.
  • This article, written by President Barack Obama, outlines the science behind climate change, private sector leadership in reducing emissions (in turn boosting bottom lines, cutting costs for consumers, and delivering returns for shareholders), and market forces and global momentum that make the advancement of the low carbon economy a bipartisan goal.
Exxon Continued Paying Millions To Climate-Change Deniers Under Rex Tillerson l The Huffington Post
  • Exxon Mobil Corp. promised nine years ago to stop donating to groups that spread misinformation about climate change. Yet between 2008 and 2015, the oil giant’s charitable arm gave over $6.5 million to groups that deny that burning fossil fuels is causing global warming, a new analysis shows.  
An Iceberg the Size of Delaware is About to Break off Antarctica l Mashable
  • Researchers who closely monitor a crack cutting across the Larsen C Antarctic ice shelf reported last week that its progress had suddenly sped up, indicating that a collapse may soon be underway. More worrisome is the possibility that the breaking off of the iceberg from the ice shelf that it's now attached to could speed up the disintegration of the broader ice shelf and land-based ice that lies behind it.

Will Trump’s Climate Team Accept Any ‘Social Cost of Carbon’? l Pro Publica

  • President-elect Donald Trump and members of his proposed cabinet and transition team have taken aim at many of President Obama’s climate and clean-energy policies, programs and legacies including an arcane metric called the “social cost of carbon.”This value is the government’s best estimate of how much society gains over the long haul by cutting each ton of the heat-trapping carbon-dioxide emissions scientists have linked to global warming. The metric is produced using a complex, and contentious, set of models estimating a host of future costs to society, and the Trump administration’s aim of lowering the operative “number,” possibly by a lot, is almost assured.
A Concise Map of Stakeholders in Extreme Events and Climate Risk Management – The Geneva Association l Business Wire
  • This week The Geneva Association published a new tool, The Stakeholder Landscape in Extreme Events and Climate Risk Management. This map graphically illustrates the patterns of stakeholder engagement in the international framework agreements related to disaster risk reduction, climate change and sustainable development over the last five decades. It also displays the complex stakeholder landscape and multi-stakeholder initiatives in extreme events and climate risk management over the last decade and describes the major developments in expanding risk transfer and insurance. The map provides the reader with an overview of the key initiatives underway globally and serves as a valuable and concise primer on the key stakeholders in extreme event and climate risk management worldwide.

Climate Change Is the World’s Biggest Risk, in 3 Charts l Climate Central

  • The World Economic Forum surveyed 750 experts on what the most likely and impactful risks facing humanity are in 2017. In a report released this week, they ranked extreme weather as the most likely risk and the second-most impactful, trailing only the use of weapons of mass destruction. Climate change is responsible for driving an increase in the likelihood and intensity of extreme weather events, notably heat waves.
Fossil Fuel & Private Prison Divestment
 
Denver University: Let’s Drop the False Morality Tale in the Push for Fossil Fuel Divestment (Opinion) l The Denver Post
  • This op-ed outlines the seven meetings a divestment task force at Denver University had with experts and advocates for and against fossil fuel divestment. The leading narrative is a criticism of arguments behind divestment, especially those that are morally based.
Princeton University Group Aims to Divest From Private Prisons l The Daily Pennsylvanian
  • A petition from Princeton Private Prison Divestment (PPPD) is garnering campus support. Composed by a vast array of student social justice groups, PPPD is a coalition that demands Princeton University immediately divest from what they deem are “particularly egregious” private prison corporations. The petition outlines why the coalition believes divestment is so important.

 

 

Add your reaction Share