Weekly News Round-Up: April 21st, 2017

Opportunities for Action
 
Sign-On: Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety l The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility & Boston Common Asset Management
  • Investors are invited to sign this statement by providing your information on the online form hereThe deadline is close of business, Friday, April 21st.
  • Our Climate, joined by the presidents of Dickinson College, Pitzer College, Swarthmore College, Vassar College, and Wesleyan University, are inviting other college and university presidents to sign a letter calling on national and state elected officials to put a price on carbon. 
Higher Education Backs Low Carbon USA l Second Nature
  • Building on a January letter to the new leadership in DC, Second Nature has worked with partners to create a new public site for this letter that demonstrates its alignment with over 1,000 business leaders under the banner of Low Carbon USA. If your institution would like to participate, please submit via the form on the linked website.
  • The annual Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards recognize innovative and advanced leadership in sustainability, climate mitigation, and resilience at signatory campuses of the Climate Leadership Commitments. 
Upcoming Events
 
New Resources
 

 Make a Clean Break: Your Guide to Fossil Fuel Free Investing l Trillium Asset Management, Green Century & 350

  • This guide provides investors with insights and tools to eliminate fossil fuel companies from their portfolios and reinvest in clean, sustainable, and solutions-oriented investments that are advancing the transition toward a zero-carbon economy. The guide offers specific steps individuals can take to start investing fossil fuel free. Inside the guide, readers will find background information about divestment and fossil fuel free investing, four reasons to avoid coal, oil, and gas companies, how to divest, which offers a suite of online resources to help individuals divest and reinvest fossil fuel free, and an introduction to reinvesting in clean, sustainable investments.
News from IEN Members
 
UMaine System Marks Earth Day With New ESG Investment Policy l Maine Biz
  • Maine's public universities marked Earth Day 2017 by announcing today a new investment policy linked to sustainability. The universities also released a report that shows the seven-campus UMaine System has achieved a 34% decline in carbon emissions over the last decade. In a release announcing the investment policy change, the UMaine System explained that ESG investing models include such factors as environmental sustainability, effect on carbon footprint, the treatment of workers and the transparency of their governing principles.
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how U.S. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling wants to require anyone seeking to put a proposal on the corporate ballot to hold a minimum of 1 percent of a company’s outstanding stock for three years. Currently, shareholders with as little as $2,000 in shares for a year or more can do so. There are also stories inside about how Tesla paid off some SolarCity bonds early; French banks top green bonds league tables; Efficiency-focused indexes are outperforming; Big oil backs the Paris climate accord; Sandberg called 'hypocrite' as Facebook, Google shield pay data; and how Microsoft, Google and Apple are buying renewable energy.
Sustainability Leaders Issue Call-to-Action to CEOs l 3BL Media
  • The leaders of the world's two largest corporate and investor sustainability initiatives today called on CEOs to ensure their corporate pension plans – an untapped sustainability area – adopt responsible investing policies – highlighting concrete benefits including improved investment performance, fulfilling fiduciary duty and managing regulatory risk and boosting corporate sponsor credibility. According to a guide released today by the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and UN Global Compact, CEOs should ensure plans mirror their own sustainability values.
Sustainable Investing Grows on Asset Owner Demand l Bloomberg
  • Sustainable investing is moving to broader investment analysis from the confines of specialty funds. Pension funds focused on long-term returns, particularly in Europe, are a main driver. Recognition of the financial cost of environmental, social and governance issues, better disclosure of company data and investor demand are among factors spurring the change. Issues such as energy efficiency, water scarcity, safety and diversity are gaining ground with a wider investor base, even without a label.
Value Meets Values - The Rise of ESG in Investing l LinkedIn
  • This article explores how ESG coalesces different areas of concern into a single concept that appeals to both value- and values-driven investors. Disclosure of ESG information can provide a holistic view of a company’s sustainability. The ESG issues reported span a broad breadth of topics including green financing, social responsibility, human capital, workplace diversity, executive compensation, and corporate governance. A key by-product of greater ESG disclosure will be enhanced transparency in investment decisions.
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Forum Highlights Value of Private Sector Role in SDGs l IISD
  • The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) held its annual Global Forum on Development with a focus on catalyzing the private sector to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and explore new avenues of partnership to mobilize the needed resources. The 12th annual Global Forum on Development convened on 5 April 2017, in Paris, France, on the theme of ‘Working together to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs).
Trump No Roadblock to ESG Investing Train l Insurance News Net
  • At first glance, a money manager might look at the budget-slashing, executive order-heavy environmental policies from the Trump administration, and think “stay away.” But new evidence (especially larger fund inflows) into sustainable investment reveals an opportunity for advisors to spin some gold out of political flax. According to the U.S. Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, so-called “impact investing” (also known as environmental, social and governance, or “ESG” funds) attract 20 percent of proceeds invested by U.S. asset managers.
United Nations Convenes SDG Finance Lab to Mobilize Institutional Investment (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • The United Nations has convened an initiative called the SDG Financing Lab to mobilize the “vast pools” of capital held by institutional investors to promote sustainable financial systems. It took place at a high-level event at the UN Headquarters in New York this week organized in collaboration with the UN Environment Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System.
Here Come The Sustainable Development Goals l The Huffington Post
  • The very latest “Really Big Thing “ to hit the responsible and sustainable investment space is the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an internationally agreed set of 17 worthy but incredibly ambitious goals which were adopted by world leaders in the fall of 2015, and came into effect in January 2016. While in the first instance adopted by and targeted at countries, it is explicitly expected that the private sector must and will be heavily involved Unlike their UN predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals, the SDGs have attracted widespread interest not only from multilateral corporations, but also from large institutional investors.
Does Sustainable Investing Make Sense? ETFs in Focus l NASDAQ
  • This article discusses whether SRI/ESG investing generates investment benefits. Various studies have proved that sustainable practices have led to lower cost of capital and better operational performance of the firm, which in turn has led to higher cash flow generation. To discuss this further, we will now talk about a few ETF investments in this space.
Your Guide to Sustainable Investing l Morningstar
  • Do you want sustainable, long-term investment returns? Increasing evidence suggests that in order to reach your investment goals the companies that deliver the best returns to shareholders are those which care about ESG. In the past, ethical investing was thought of as a lower-return strategy, investing for people who wanted to put morals above profits. But now evidence suggests that the opposite is true; companies which embrace low-carbon technology for example, are more likely to be future proofed, companies which treat their employees fairly are more likely to have consistent cash flows.
A New Spin on ESG ETFs l ETF Trends
  • Exchange traded funds and other strategies that incorporate ESG are increasingly popular with investors and issuers are obliging with an array of new ETFs adhering to ESG investing principles. Last week, SerenityShares, a unit of SerenityShares Investments, a Washington-DC based registered investment advisor, introduced the SerenityShares IMPACT ETF. The new ETF “aims to identify firms whose activities benefit society and the planet while excluding investments in traditional areas of ESG concern such as tobacco, offensive weapons, and fossil fuel (oil, gas, and coal) exploration,” according to a statement from SerenityShares.
Nearly 50 Years After the Inaugural Earth Day, Impact Investing Arrives lYahoo Finance
  • The first Earth Day was held nearly 50 years ago, on April 22, 1970, as an outpouring of support for environmental reform. It was the rallying cry of a movement that would see, in the following months and years, the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of legislation like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act. For investors -- and ultimately, for businesses themselves that want to tap the public markets for funds -- impact investing may be just as groundbreaking.

Shareholder Engagement & Fiduciary Duty
  • A top House Republican and one of Washington's most powerful lobbying groups are working to dismantle a tool investors use to challenge companies on issues like climate change: the shareholder proposal process. The "Financial CHOICE Act" — a sweeping bill sponsored by House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) that aims to replace the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act aims to hobble that process. The latest version of the bill would change Securities and Exchange Commission rules to bar any investor with less than a 1 percent stake in a company from filing a resolution, according to a committee memo. At some companies, 1 percent could be tens of thousands of dollars. At others, it could be billions.
Green-Aware Investors Can Do Good — And Well l The Register Guard
  • Are business interests incompatible with climate-change mitigation? Perhaps for some companies — but for others, the hurricanes, droughts and floods associated with climate change represent one of the many risks businesses must confront to be successful. Not surprisingly, a growing number of businesses address environmental risk or make changes with environmental consequences in mind. For investors, incorporating environmental factors into investment decisions is an increasingly smart approach. Consideration of ESG factors has gone mainstream, with investment advisers increasingly using ESG integration. Yet the assumption persists that ESG investing is fiscally imprudent and will result in lower returns. This article discusses why that is not the case.
Green Bonds
 
This Large Money Manager Created a New Way to Invest in Green Bonds l Green Biz
  • Last month VanEck launched the first U.S.-listed fixed-income exchange-traded fund (ETF) for green bonds, the VanEck Vectors Green Bond ETF, which offers investors a new way to invest in projects that help mitigate the impacts of climate change. The ETF allows investors to invest in a diversified portfolio of U.S. and foreign green bonds, and it will track the performance and yield characteristics of the S&P Green Bond Select Index. With asset managers such as BlackRock Inc. and State Street Corp. launching green bond index funds in Europe, how will these funds affect the overall green bond landscape?
General Higher Education & Endowment News
 
Universities Seek to Defend Endowments From Republican Tax Plan l Yahoo Finance
  • Some of the richest U.S. colleges are pushing back against scrutiny by Congress over the tax-exempt status of their endowments. Lobbying disclosure forms show almost two dozen schools such as Princeton University, University of Notre Dame and Cornell University are including endowment tax issues in their federal agenda, along with perennial topics such as student loans and funding for scientific research.
As Interest Grows, Yale Carbon Charge Leads the way in Studying Carbon Pricing l Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition
  • Earlier this month, officials from the Yale Carbon Charge participated in a strategy session at the Connecticut State Capitol with regional legislators interested in developing carbon-pricing policies. Yale also will take part in an upcoming symposium at Boston University with representatives from Microsoft, looking at how private companies and universities such as Yale have gone about creating, testing, and evaluating internal carbon taxes as a way to reduce CO2 emissions. Yale’s carbon charge program applies a $40 charge per ton of CO2. The Yale program uses a market-based, fee-and-dividend model, which experts say is most likely to be the approach used by governments in the United States.
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
Nitrogen Pollution: An Emerging Focus of Campus Sustainability Efforts l The Huffington Post
  • Many colleges and universities are working to transition toward sustainability in their academic programs, operations and engagement with communities. A major emphasis of their efforts has been reducing the environmental harms associated with campus operations. Typical initiatives include reducing emissions of climate changing greenhouse gases. While many of these initiatives can and do reduce nitrogen pollution, this has not been a significant or deliberate focus of college and university sustainability programs. That may be changing. The University of Virginia set a goal in 2013 to reduce its emissions of reactive nitrogen 25% by the year 2025 relative to base year 2009, the first to do so. Another eighteen schools have joined UVA in a research network to study their nitrogen pollution and consider similar policies.
Global Sustainability Leader UC Launches Climate Lab, an Innovative Six Part Video Series in Partnership with Vox on Climate Change Solutions l University of California
  • The University of California and Vox announced this week Climate Lab, a six-episode video series exploring global climate change and UC’s groundbreaking work to mitigate its effects. Hosted by conservation scientist and UCLA visiting researcher M. Sanjayan, the series features eye-opening conversations with experts, scientists, thought leaders and activists about how everything from clean energy to food, religion to smartphones, affects the future of our planet.
 
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment
  • This week, Trillium Asset Management, Green Century Capital Management, and 350.org announced the release of a new guide for investors on fossil fuel free investing titled Make a Clean Break: Your Guide to Fossil Fuel Free Investing. The first version of the guide was launched in 2013 and updated in 2014. The new guide provides investors with insights and tools to eliminate fossil fuel companies from their portfolios and reinvest in clean, sustainable, and solutions-oriented investments that are advancing the transition toward a zero-carbon economy.
  • Since its inception in the fall of 2012, Bowdoin Climate Action (BCA) has been dedicated to pursuing the goal of climate justice, on our campus and beyond. Thus far that has largely manifested in the form of a campaign to divest the College’s endowment from the top 200 oil and gas companies. According to student leaders of the campaign, it is time to shift the tactic. BCA sees Maine’s impending gubernatorial, senate and state legislature elections in 2018 as a ripe opportunity to further our ultimate goal of climate justice. We can be instrumental in making climate change one of the top priorities for the Maine public and politicians alike in this coming election cycle.
  • In 2014, Wellesley students asked the College to divest from fossil fuels and their request was denied by the Board of Trustees and President Bottomly. Instead, they promised the students other sustainable initiatives instead; one of the most importantbeing the creation of the Green Revolving Fund (GRF) or similar fund for sustainable projects. A pilot of the GRF was launched with $500,000 — however, the Office of Sustainability only spent $180,000 before the fund was frozen without notice or explanation. In order to gather support for the GRF, students have organized a student petition to deliver to the administration.
Montclair State University Students Campaign for University Divestment of Fossil Fuels l The Montclarion
  • Students in the Montclair State Environmental Club have taken it upon themselves to convince Montclair State University to divest from the six different fossil fuel companies it currently has corporate bonds for, including BP and ExxonMobil. Members of the Environmental Club executive board are working with the Student Government Association (SGA) to create a poll where students can vote on whether or not they would like their school to divest.

Divest Dartmouth Holds Keystone Pipeline Protest l The Dartmouth

  • Instead of their typical location inside trash bags outside of fraternities and sororities, empty Keystone Light cans were instead arranged in the shape of a pipeline on the front lawn of Parkhurst Hall on Thursday afternoon to protest the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Divest Dartmouth, which organized the protest, called upon College President Phil Hanlon and the Board of Trustees to divest endowment holdings from the 200 “dirtiest” fossil fuel companies, according to a Divest Dartmouth member.
Fossil Free Macalester College Changes Tactics in Fight for Divestment l The Mac Weekly
  • Macalester’s Investment Office estimates that the College’s endowment currently includes around $20 to $25 million invested in fossil fuel-related ventures through a number of mutual funds. Fossil Free Mac will be taking a different approach this time around with their calls for divestment. The group altered their strategy after details about the institution’s investments in fossil fuel companies were unearthed during a meeting last November with Vice President for Administration and Finance David Wheaton: Macalester has $49 million invested in oil and gas limited private partnerships. Recently the Student Government passed an official resolution calling on the administration to “…enact a moratorium on private oil and gas partnerships in order to divorce our endowment from direct funding of fossil fuel infrastructure.”

We Don’t Have a Democracy”: A Response to Chancellor Wrighton at Washington University (Opinion) l Student Life

  • On April 14, Fossil Free WashU met with Chancellor Wrighton for the second time this semester. For the past four years students have been asking Washington University’s administration to divest from the top 200 dirtiest fossil fuel companies. Fossil Free has finally been refused outright. Students spoke with the Chancellor and his chief of staff, and while they may have received our answer, it was behind closed doors. Following this meeting, the students decided to release insights that reach beyond their campaign. As a group dedicated to voicing student concerns about the endowment and its implications, Fossil Free WashU shared the following considerations with the greater University community.
Amherst Area Activists Hold Demonstration Outside Bank of America Protesting Investment in Fossil Fuel l Mass Live
  • This week, With props of money, cigars and an oil-like substance, a group of area residents staged a nearly hour-long demonstration in front of the Bank of America to inspire customers to divest from banks supporting fossil fuel.  

University System of Maryland Foundation Won’t Commit to Fossil Fuel Divestment Deadline l The Diamondback

  • Almost a year after a University System of Maryland Foundation committee created formal recommendations to divest from fossil fuels, it hasn't committed to a deadline and has refused to release its progress to the public. The foundation, which oversees investments for the University System of Maryland's 12 institutions and 11 other institutions affiliated with the system, formed an ad hoc committee in May 2016 to evaluate a proposal created by the student group Fossil Free MD to divest from fossil fuels.
Johns Hopkins Forum Explores the Pros and Cons of Fossil Fuel Divestment l JHU Hub
  • John Hopkins University invited four experts to share perspectives on the issue of fossil fuel divestment as it engages in its own discussions of whether to end private investments in fossil fuel companies. Nearly a third of the university's $3.8 billion endowment is privately invested. The Johns Hopkins divestment proposal is under consideration by the Public Interest Investment Advisory Committee, a panel of students, faculty, and staff appointed to advise the university on the social impacts of its investments.
Does the University of South Florida Invest in BP, Big Tobacco, Weapons and Prisons? l PolitiFact Florida
  • University of South Florida students, faculty and alumni are revamping their efforts to have more say in how the university invests its money. A new video called "#HeyJudy" from the USF Divest coalition urges USF administrators to stop investing in a number of industries that they don’t support, such as private prison operators, tobacco companies, oil companies and weapons manufacturers.
Harvard Students Say Action is Needed: Divestment, Politics, and Morality (Opinion) l Harvard Political Review
  • Divest Harvard is a student activist group. On February 21st, they asked the administration that divestment from coal begin by March 10. Disappointingly, they received in return only another letter claiming that divestment is not in line with the University’s mission. But Harvard’s lack of action is irresponsible and risky. This opinion piece outlines why.
MU Student Groups Want University of Missouri System to Divest Interest in Fossil Fuels l The Missourian
  • Representatives from MU student government organizations are calling on the University of Missouri System to discontinue allowing its endowments to fund fossil fuels. The Missouri Students Association passed a resolution Tuesday night asking the UM System to divest from funding fossil fuel companies through the system's $1.5 billion Endowment Pool by 2022. The resolution also asks the system to provide financial support to the green energy sector
Private Prison Divestment
 
Princeton University Evasion Tactics: The Politics of the “Apolitical” (Opinion) l The Princetonian
  • This article discusses The Princetonian Editorial Board's recent article characterizing divestment as a “political end” which would damage the University’s educational capacities. In doing so, it argued against the prevailing campus consensus in support of private prison divestment, demonstrated by a successful faculty petition and vast majorities of undergraduate and graduate referenda participants. Ironically, the Board makes its own political agenda clear when it claims that “the contracting of certain government services ... can have negative, even disastrous effects,” but still fails to be “inherently immoral.” Inflammatory editorials, however, are far less harmful than the diversions from institutional accountability favored by administrators.

New Harvard University Group Calls for Private Prison Divestment l The Crimson

  • Students have launched a new effort urging Harvard to divest—this time taking aim at the University’s holdings in private prison stocks. The new undergraduate-led initiative, called the Harvard College Project for Justice, disseminated a petition over some House lists last week calling for Harvard to divest from “direct and indirect investments in private prison stock, as well as publicly commit to a moratorium on such investments in the future.”

 

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: April 14th, 2017

New IEN Members
Upcoming Events
 
 
Opportunities for Action
 
Higher Education Carbon Pricing Endorsement Initiative l Our Climate
  • Our Climate, joined by the presidents of Dickinson College, Pitzer College, Swarthmore College, Vassar College, and Wesleyan University, are inviting other college and university presidents to sign a letter calling on national and state elected officials to put a price on carbon. Putting a price on carbon creates a powerful incentive for individuals, communities, investors, and businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a clean energy economy.
Sign-On: Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety l The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility & Boston Common Asset Management
  • The Accord for Fire and Building Safety has made important strides to address the risk to garment factory workers in the 1,600 factories covered under the program.  To complete the work however, requires the extension of the original 5-year agreement.  In addition, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety needs to complete remediation of all outstanding issues identified in its inspections and publicly report on progress so that investors and other stakeholders are informed. We invite you all to join other investors in signing the statement.  Please provide your information by filling out the online form hereThe deadline is close of business, Friday, April 21st.
  • The annual Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards recognize innovative and advanced leadership in sustainability, climate mitigation, and resilience at signatory campuses of the Climate Leadership Commitments. They do so based on demonstrated advances in innovation, embedded opportunities, and student preparedness with relation to sustainability and climate action. Second Nature offers these awards in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) since 2015. Award winners are recognized as part of the Greenbuild Leadership Awards Program, benefiting from global publicity opportunities.
 
 
New Resources
 
  • It makes commercial sense to embed the SDGs in operations and strategy, but how ready is business to support governments achieve these global goals? This report answers that question. Some key take aways include 71% of businesses say they are already planning how they will engage with the SDGs, and 41% of businesses say they will embed SDGs into strategy and the way they do business, within five years.
IEN-Member News
 
PRI Sets out Sustainable Financial System Programme l Principles for Responsible Investment
  • The PRI set out its Sustainable Financial System (SFS) programme to US signatories at an event hosted by IEX in New York on 29 March. The SFS programme has been established with a long-term view – to better align the financial system with sustainable and equitable economies. In doing so, the aim is to reinforce ESG integration and responsible investment approaches. IEX was chosen for the event because of its commitment to a fair, simple, transparent listed equities market.
Etho Capital Named one of the Most Innovative Companies of 2017 in the Energy Sector l Fast Company
  • Etho Capital was named one of the Most Innovative Companies of 2017 in the energy sector for offering a fossil fuel free ETF.
  • Having successfully hired a senior portfolio manager last year, Zevin Asset Management is seeking to add yet another senior investor to their team who is committed to serving both individual and institutional clients’ financial needs while being dedicated to social change. Experience of managing assets of individual clients in individual public securities is essential.
UBS, a $2.7 Trillion Money Manager, is Preaching Sustainable Investing to its 7,000 Financial Advisors l Business Insider
  • One of the largest financial firms in the world is positioning itself to be the greenest bank on Wall Street. UBS, which manages over 2.7 trillion Swiss francs ($2.7 trillion) has made sustainability the cornerstone of its business. As such, the bank has taken a number of steps to be the go-to firm for sustainable and impact investment offerings. The Swiss-based bank told Business Insider its sustainable investments grew by about 40 billion Swiss francs in 2016. Those investments now make up about 35%, or more than $970 billion Swiss francs, of the bank's "total invested assets."  This year, they will sustainably invest one trillion Swiss francs of its managed assets, according to this article.
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how some sustainable investors are flipping their focus from fossil fuels to forests, betting that trees pulling carbon from the air can have a bigger impact than other investments; renewable energy investment in developing countries dropped faster last year than in richer nations; Tesla Inc. searches for new independent directors; and Bank of New York Mellon looks at products that help women.
Ford Foundation Is an Unlikely Convert to ‘Impact’ Investing l The New York Times
  • This article describes the history and decision making behind the Ford Foundation's recent  announcement that it would commit $1 billion to investments that “earn not only attractive financial returns but concrete social returns as well.”
Kellogg - Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge Winner: Flexible Finance for Low-Income Schools l Impact Alpha
  • A team of MBA students from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management that proposed a low-interest loan fund for India’s 400,000 low-fee private schools took first place in last week’s Kellogg Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge. Now in its seventh year, the tone at the finals in New York suggested the tide is shifting towards long-term, sustainable investing.
  • Regardless of their specific approach to impact investing, the 11 foundation leaders featured in this series share the same refrain: We can’t make meaningful progress against the most important social and environmental challenges of our time without taking risks, and foundations are uniquely positioned to take such risks. While each individual foundation has its own risk tolerance, all foundations should be able to find a comfortable spot along the risk spectrum to commit more of their capital toward mission.
Consultants, Asset Managers Tout Holistic Approach In Carbon Footprint Analysis l Money Management Report
  • This article discusses how carbon footprint analysis relates to ESG criteria and advises investors to carefully consider the objectives and the goals they are trying to achieve when making such considerations a part of their investment analysis. 
SDG Round-Up, April 13 (Subsciption) l Responsible Investor
  • This article is a compilation of the latest developments in relation to the sustainable development goals, including Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs having reportedly announced that “all relevant aspects of new Danish legislation will be assessed in relation to the Global Goals,” and IEN Member Oekom Research’s Corporate Responsibility Review 2017 citing global pressures from such initiatives as the SDGs as drivers of the ‘slight’ improvement in corporate governance practices.
  • New Research shows private equity activity in Africa will inject billions of US dollars of sustainable investment over the next five years. Private equity deals in Africa are growing from a low base equivalent to 0.18 percent of Africa’s GDP in 2016. Every 0.01 percent increase will mean $200 million (R2.75 billion) more investment and could easily reach $1.1 billion over the next five years.
The “Why” Question in Investment Theory l Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation
  • Economics has developed as a science, conveniently forgetting its roots in political philosophy. Unfortunately that “science” is severely dated, and the functioning of the global capital markets has become separated from the real world. A simple thought experiment throws light on the theoretically correct strategies for a rational saver, but leaves us with unsatisfactory answers. Neglecting the societal context of our saving activity only serves to further isolate the capital markets. Instead, a self-perpetuating system requires investors to evolve from simple allocators of capital to its steward, with far broader responsibilities. Maximising holistic returns represents practical action of the responsibility by investors, and stretches far beyond creating wealth simply for its own sake.
Shareholder Engagement
 
Proxy Season 2017 Blog l As You Sow, Proxy Impact, & SI2
  • This blog is the place where active shareholders can stay up-to-date on the inside scoop of what's happening at selected annual meetings being voted on each week, as well as the most relevant advocacy position and expert insight articles from Proxy Preview 2017. For the dates of April 10 to April 21 there is a meeting at Bank of New York Mellon on April 11, 2017 as well as a meeting at Kraft Heinz Company on April 19, 2017. Read the blog for more information on the votes taking place at these meetings.
Adam Kanzer: The Business Roundtable’s Unreasonable Proposal
 (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • Last year, the Business Roundtable published a proposal to “modernize” the process shareholders use to submit shareholder proposals in the United States. If fully implemented, it would eliminate virtually all proposals. In this article, Adam Kanzer explains why.
ICCR Statement in Support of In-Person Annual Stockholder Meetings l Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility 
  • This statement reflects ICCR's view that in-person shareholder meetings are a critical component of good corporate governance. They enable long-term investors to share information and voice concerns about financial risks they believe the company may not be adequately managing. Virtual-only meetings can significantly reduce this additional input, fostering a dangerous insularity that exposes the company to even greater risk. Further, they fear the move to virtual meetings will be used by management and board to avoid challenges, filter out negative feedback, cherry-pick questions, and downplay opposition to business decisions and plans.
  • Institutional investors are not yet satisfied with Rio Tinto’s response to a shareholder resolution passed last year that asked the mining company to provide more information about its approach to climate change risk. The resolution was co-filed by the Aiming for A investor coalition, an initiative of UK charity fund manager CCLA, along with a wider group of institutional investors with over $4trn (€3.8trn) of assets. Similar resolutions were filed at Anglo American and Glencore.
Fixed Income & Green Bonds
 
Investors Warm to ‘Green Bonds’ l Wall Street Journal
  • “Green bond” issuance is growing fast, part of the overall trend of do-good investments becoming more popular. About $81 billion of green bonds were issued last year, according to the Climate Bonds Initiative, a nonprofit that promotes the debt market as a way to raise money for projects related to climate change. It expects $150 billion of green bonds to be issued this year, compared with just $3 billion were issued in 2012.
A New Asset Class is Gaining Ground as Investors Turn Socially and Environmentally Conscious l CNBC
  • Green Bonds, though not new in the finance world, saw demand rise at a faster pace after the Paris climate change agreement was reached in December 2015. The accord, which came into effect in November 2016, will see nearly 200 countries work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of containing climate change. Moody's Investors Service said in January this year that green bond issuance rose 120 percent in 2016 to a record $93.4 billion, and it has the potential to hit $206 billion in 2017.
  • The Pimco Environmental, Social and Governance Global Bond Fund will be benchmarked against the company’s global bond model, and will plough investor cash into a range of sovereign and investment-grade bonds around the world. The launch comes amid a broader push for ethical investment frameworks. Last month Australia’s largest wealth manager AMP dumped $600 million worth of investments in big tobacco, cluster munitions and landmines after overhauling its ethical guidelines.
Sustainable Development Goals: Common Goals, Our Approach, Your Impact
 l Pimco
  • The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can serve as a framework for measuring impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG)-focused investing. Establishing a common approach, and understanding how to measure progress towards meeting the goals, is key to unlocking core fixed income capital for the purpose of positive change.
 
 
Higher Education Endowment & General News
Yale Endowment Blasts Low-Fee Critics, Says Gains Would Lag l Bloomberg
  • Yale University, one of the most-watched and best-performing college endowments, defended the fees it pays to external managers, saying in an annual investment report that a low-cost passive strategy would have “shortchanged’’ the Ivy League school’s students and faculty. While declining to provide details about how much the fund pays, its managers earn “large performance-based fees,’’ the report said. The $25.4 billion endowment, the second largest in higher education behind Harvard, has been run since 1985 by David Swensen and returned 3.4 percent for the most recent fiscal year when college endowments lost 2 percent on average.
How Yale's Endowment Negotiates Fees l Institutional Investor
  • This article describes how Yale's endowment managers negotiates and structures fees and terms by asset class, according to its 2016 investment report.
Gonzaga Environmental Organization of Gonzaga University Speaker Series Opener Advocates for Responsible Investing l The Gonzaga Bulletin
  • Last year Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh asked director of sustainability Jim Simon to create conversations around ways the university can invest in a sustainable, “responsible” way. At the second of two events in the The SRI Speaker Series this year, Jason Henning, Vice President of Investor/Donor relations at Seattle based Global Partnerships—a nonprofit ‘impact-led’ investment firm that focuses on subsidizing necessary supplies in poverty stricken areas across the globe spoke.
Open Letter to President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt l Chaplains for Earth
  • In this open letter, Deans and Directors of college and university religious and spiritual life departments call upon the United States government to honor the commitments it made at the 2015 United Nations Climate Conference in Paris. More broadly, they encourage the U.S. to continue engaging in international talks and actions as well as domestic measures to mitigate the human-made impact on climate change.  
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
California's Cap-and Trade Program Wins in Court, Program's Future Still Unclear l Van Ness Feldman
  • In 2016, the California Legislature enacted an aggressive target for the state: reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.  However, the state’s climate policies have been subject to ongoing judicial and legislative uncertainty. On April 6, 2017, a California appellate court lifted one of those clouds of uncertainty, issuing a 2-1 decision that preserves the state’s landmark cap-and-trade program – at least through 2020.  California Chamber of Commerce v. CARB.  Thereafter, the fate of the cap-and-trade program is in the hands of the California Legislature, which is considering whether cap-and-trade will play a role in the state’s future climate policies – and, if so, in what form.
  • This year, University of California Retirement Systemwas the highest rated US Endowment for managing climate risk per the AODP Global Climate Index. The AODP Global Climate Index is the world standard for assessing the world’s largest investors on climate-risk management. The Index has been produced by assessing the world’s largest 500 asset owners including pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, insurance companies, foundations and endowments. 

Clean Energy
 
Kentucky Coal Mining Museum Converts to Solar Power l Mountain News
  • The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Benham is owned by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. "We believe that this project will help save at least eight to ten thousand dollars, off the energy costs on this building alone, so it's a very worthy effort and it's going to save the college money in the long run," said Communications Director Brandon Robinson.
NRG, a Power Company Leaning Green, Faces Activist Challenge l The New York Times
  • Over the years, NRG, a leading independent power producer whose fleet once depended heavily on coal, has made big bets on low-carbon energy technologies. It pursued developing renewable energy for customers large and small and set aggressive goals to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide — 50 percent by 2030, and 90 percent by 2050. Activist hedge-fund investors have installed two directors on the board who, in one potential approach, would push to sell off some of the company’s renewable-power projects, raising questions about how it would meet its clean-energy goals.
  • Ohio State University’s endowment will jump 25% in size with a $1 billion payment from two companies that will lease the school’s energy assets for 50 years. The school’s board of trustees on Friday approved a public-private partnership with French company Engie SA and Montreal-based Axium Infrastructure Inc. to run and manage its energy and electricity systems in exchange for annual payments expected to exceed $54 million.
 
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 

University of Auckland and Auckland Council Called on to Divest From Fossil Fuels l Fairfax Media

  • Auckland Council and the University of Auckland are being called on to pull investments in coal, oil and gas. On Tuesday climate group 350 Aotearoa will ask Auckland Council to halt all new investments in fossil fuels and divest existing investments within three years. Last week more than 100 students from the Auckland University Medical Students Association rallied against the University of Auckland for investing in fossil fuels.
SUNY New Paltz Foundation Should Divest From Fossil Fuels (Opinion) l Daily Freeman
  • In this letter to the editor, a current student at SUNY New Paltz discusses the reasons he believes the foundation should divest from fossil fuels.
Yale Approaches Exxon Divestment Decision l Yale Daily News
  • The Yale Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility met with three senior executives at Exxon Mobil Corp. in March, a major step in the committee’s efforts to determine whether the University should divest from Exxon Mobil, the largest oil company in the world. ACIR Chair Jonathan Macey LAW ’82 described the conversation with Exxon Mobil to members of Fossil Free Yale, Yale Students for Prison Divestment and the Dwight Hall Socially Responsible Investment Fund at a meeting in Luce Hall on Saturday. Catherine Hill GRD ’85, a University trustee who was on campus for the Yale Corporation’s meeting this weekend, was also in attendance.

Western University Makes First Move to Divest From Fossil Fuels l The Gazette

  • Western University has taken its first real step towards divestment from fossil fuels by moving a portion of its reserve funds towards investing in companies which are “sustainability leaders in the areas of water, energy, waste and food & agriculture.”The University will be moving approximately $800,000 (out of approximately $4 million overall in its reserve funds) from Canadian equities in its reserves to a new Canadian sustainability fund called “NEI Environment Leaders Fund.”
UNC Asheville Student Organization Seeks to Divest University Funds From Fossil Fuels l The Blue Banner
  • As funding and political support continues to flow for controversial pipeline projects, like the Keystone and Dakota Access, a group of dedicated UNC Asheville students actively try to convince students and university officials to take their money away from financial institutions supporting extractive energy. UNCA Divest, formerly Divestment Coalition, is a long-standing student group having historically advocated for the university to divest totally from fossil fuels like coal or natural gas.

Johns Hopkins Provost Hosts Discussion Forum on Divesting From Fossil Fuel Companies l JHU Hub

  • In response to mounting evidence of the environmental and public health impacts of the fossil fuel industry, Johns Hopkins University will hold a forum to discuss the issue of fossil fuel divestment. The JHU Forum on Divestment from Fossil Fuels will take place Monday, April 17 in Hodson Hall. Experts will discuss the social, ethical, and financial implications institutions should consider when deciding whether or not to end investments with fossil fuel companies. A question and answer session will follow the panel. Nearly a third of the university's $3.8 billion endowment is privately invested.
Faculty Senate Unable to Vote on Univeristy of Buffalo (UB) Fossil Free’s Divestment Proposal l The Spectrum
  • By the time UB Fossil Free presented to Faculty Senate, the proposal already had 1,600 signatures from the Student Association and Graduate Student Association, and is currently pending approval from the Professional Staff Senate.This week the Faculty Senate postponed the vote on UB Fossil Free’s divestment proposal. A student organizer presented the 20-minute divestment proposal and took questions from the Senate. The Senate was preparing to vote until one senator realized there weren’t enough members present at the meeting to make the proceedings valid. The vote is postponed until April 26.
  • Interest in socially responsible investment policies has been growing on a global, national, and campus-wide scale. On Tuesday, April 4, an expert in this field came to talk to an attentive Sewanee audience. Charlie Bohlen, the Chief Investment Officer of SFE Investment Counsel, gave a lecture hosted by the Babson Center for Global Commerce, the Divestment Club, and the Sewanee Investment Club.

 

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: April 7th, 2017

Upcoming Events
 
 
SRI & ESG Investing at Endowments & Foundations 
  • The Ford Foundation announced this week that its trustees have authorized $1 billion in “mission-related investments” from its $12 billion endowment. The initial investments will be made through private funds targeting affordable housing in the U.S. and access to financial services in emerging growth markets around the world.
  • At a recent meeting of the investment committee of the Board of Trustees of Chatham University, members voted to approve two new investment opportunities that are specifically aimed at excluding fossil fuels and supporting sustainable energy.
 
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how investors seeking sustainable opportunities are finding a natural home in green U.S. municipal bonds, which saw the busiest first quarter for issuance on record and look set to come into full bloom this year; The Ford Foundation commits $1 billion to mission-related investments; and how young women aren't closing the U.S. gender pay gap -- men are sliding backwards.
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 environmental, social, and governance (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.
Strengthening the Impact Investing Movement l Stanford Social Innovation Review
  • It has been 10 years since the term “impact investing” was officially coined at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center. The past decade has seen an industry that started with a few forward-thinking risk-takers, then grew to attract mainstream investors and philanthropists. Segmenting the field to better align expectations of risk, returns, and impact; increasing the rate of adoption with important stakeholders; and stepping up work in the United States—a look at Omidyar Network’s priorities in advancing the movement.
Across the Returns Continuum l Standford Social Innovation Review
  • For many years, the field of impact investing played host to great debates that involved seemingly irreconcilable positions: Was it possible to achieve both market-rate financial returns and meaningful social impact? Could philanthropic funding coexist effectively with commercial investment? Now, as the field reaches a new stage of maturity, leading social finance organizations are developing models that bring greater sophistication to the work of evaluating investment options.
New Report: Sustainable Investments Grow by 25% Worldwide From 2014-16 l National Law Review
  • Globally, sustainable investment assets have increased in value by 25 percent since 2014. According to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance’s Global Sustainable Investment Review 2016, “there are now $22.89 trillion of assets being professionally managed under responsible investment strategies.”
  • Investors are plowing ever more into ethical funds to back their views on issues such as global warming and gender equality, but such investments can be confusingly similar to standard funds, except for higher fees and 'green halo' marketing. The $23 trillion SRI investment sector has received a rush of money since the Paris climate agreement and, more recently, in protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's plans to slash environmental regulations.
ESG: From Niche to Norm? l Investments & Pensions Europe
  • In this article, Susanna Rust charts the evolution of responsible investment over the past 20 years.
Social Issues to Drive Share Divestments l The Australian Business Review
  • One of the world’s top responsible investment specialists says the rise of millennials and women in the executive ranks of top companies will prompt more controversial decisions to buy or sell shares in listed companies based on environmental and social impact issues. Jens Peers, chief investment officer and portfolio manager at Mirova — a subsidiary of Natixis, the French asset management giant with more than $US900 billion in assets under management globally — said more fund managers were now questioning how they dealt with climate change, carbon and ethical risk in their portfolio.
ESG Pioneer Sees Challenges Ahead l Financial Advisor
  • The $3.3 billion Parnassus Endeavor Fund, which Jerome Dodson has managed since its inception in 2005, delivered nearly twice the return of the S&P 500 last year and has beaten the market over the long term. Dodson worries that the new administration will reverse many regulations designed to protect current and future generations. 
ESG Investing on the Rise but Lack of Standardized Data a Barrier l Environmental Leader
  • Assets under management in funds using an ESG-only approach were up 5.8% at the end of February, from Dec. 31, and up 17% from the end of 2015, according to Morningstar Inc. data (via Pensions & Investments). But the promise of ESG investing is grounded in data transparency and engagement -- a State Street Corporation survey of investors has found that while obstacles to ESG investing are declining, 60% of institutional investors still say a lack of transparent, standardized data is a significant barrier.
As Trump Rolls Back Regulations, ESG Investing Is Poised To Soar l Financial Times
  • The government may find reasons to make fewer investments in initiatives supporting green energy and gender diversity, but that may give investors more reason to focus on wind and solar projects and companies that hire and promote women internally. ESG investing is being driven by clients, not policy. ESG has moved from an investment philosophy coached in naïve ideals to one that addresses financial reality that companies that adopt policies addressing ESG issues tend to perform better over the long term.
Sustainability Spike -- More Companies Seek ESG Reportability l Forbes
  • In this Q&A, Linda-Eling Lee, Global Head of Research for MSCI ESG Research, discusses ESG-related content and research methodology and how more companies are seeking reportable metrics.
 
 
Shareholder Engagement
 
  • Natasha Lamb, managing director of Arjuna Capital, which focuses on sustainable and social impact investing, said Thursday she had filed proposals at six financial companies urging them to prepare a report addressing their goals at reducing the gender pay gap and including the percentage gap between the pay of men and women. The banks and credit card firms targeted are Citigroup, Wells Fargo, American Express, MasterCard, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase.
JP Morgan Updates ESG Statement and Proxy Voting Guidelines on Website l JP Morgan Asset Management
  • A number of investors, led by Walden Asset Management, along with the City of Seattle Employees’ Retirement System and First Affirmative Financial Network, Dignity Health, Mercy Investment Services  and Rockefeller and Company filed a shareholder resolution requesting a review of JPMorgan’s proxy voting process and record of votes on climate change. The shareholder resolution has been withdrawn. JPM indicated in the dialogue, that it was updating its website to provide fresh insights into the ways it believes climate change creates risks and opportunities for companies and also updated the factors used when evaluating shareholder proposals regarding disclosure and risks related to climate change. View JP Morgan's Investment Perspectives on Corporate Engagement & Proxy Voting here.
  • Not only did mutual fund Vanguard’s proxy voting guidelines change the heading of the relevant section of its guidelines from “Corporate and social policy issues” to “Environmental and social proposals”, the wording of the guidelines also changed. Said Vanguard spokesperson Arianna Stefanoni Sherlock, “Essentially, the update to our voting guidelines are intended to better articulate the types of proposals we will consider supporting. Our standard for support is still based on a clear and strong link between the proposal itself and long term value creation at the subject company."
CalPERS Puts Weight Behind Resolutions at ‘Systemically Important Carbon Emitters’ (Subscription) lResponsible Investor 
  • The California Public Employees’ Retirement System is supporting the shareholder resolutions filed by some of its peers demanding from considerable CO2 polluters, so-called Systemically Important Carbon Emitters (SICEs), to assess their transition to 2-degrees Celsius investing scenarios. The proposals are led by a number of investors, ranging from the New York State’s Comptroller, to faith investors such as Mercy Investment Services, as well as Calvert Investment Management or Rockefeller & Co.
Divestment Ineffective in Bringing About Social Change – CalSTRS’ ESG Policy Draft (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • A new draft ESG policy from CalSTRS, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, has underlined its belief that divestment is not an effective strategy for addressing “long-term and persistent ESG risks”. “Divestment eliminates our rights as a shareholder to engage with management and raise awareness of long-term risks and encourage change,” it says. The fund’s new Corporate Governance Report (p.33) includes an estimate that the total compounded costs of all its divestments (tobacco, firearms, US thermal coal and geopolitical restrictions) – over time – are $4.8bn compared to a ‘standard’ index return.
Investment Manager News
 
  • MSCI announced today the launch of MSCI ESG Metrics, provided by MSCI ESG Research LLC. This new tool delivers a standardized set of ESG metrics for 8,500 companies globally, that is usable for in-house analytical models or for clients developing their own investment strategies. ESG Metrics was developed to address critical issues with measuring a portfolio’s ESG risk where a lack of standardized data can be a significant barrier today.
Launch of New FundX Sustainable Impact Fund Brings Momentum to ESG Investing l Yahoo Finance
  • FundX Investment Group announced today that it has launched the FundX Sustainable Impact Fund. The new fund seeks to help investors own funds with strong returns and robust environmental, social and governance ("ESG") standards. "We designed the Sustainable Impact Fund to help investors build wealth and a better world," said FundX President Janet Brown. "Our goal is to help investors meet lifelong investment goals and make a difference."
  • With interest in SRI on a tear, UBS Wealth Management Americas has named an executive to lead its efforts in this area: Stephen Freedman will now be head of the firm’s Sustainable Investing Solutions effort, charged with expanding the wirehouse’s products and services in this area. “He will also promote the understanding of Sustainable Investing concepts and solutions among financial advisors in order to develop new business and help clients pursue their sustainable and impact investment goals,” UBS Wealth Management Americas said in a statement.
Swiss Pension-Backed Advisor Ethos Slams Credit Suisse Over Dakota Access Pipeline (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • Ethos, the governance advisory firm backed by Swiss pension funds, has advised its clients against granting discharge to the board of Credit Suisse – in part due to the banking giant’s alleged links with the controversial Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL). Under Swiss law, shareholders vote to release board members from liability for their activities during the year under review, the so-called ‘discharge’. Shareholders that grant discharge lose their right to file claims against board members.

General Endowment News

  • How much does investment management cost? Fiduciaries, donors and stakeholders at endowed institutions have a strong interest in finding a good answer to this question, particularly in this era of low returns when costs may occupy a comparatively large proportion of the total return percentage.
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
To Shrink the Trade Deficit With China, Tax Carbon l Bloomberg
  • When President Donald Trump assumes that any policy to curb greenhouse-gas emissions must be bad for economic growth, job creation and U.S. competitiveness, he has things backwards.This miscalculation extends to U.S. trade policy, the central focus of Trump’s meeting this week with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Trump says he wants to shrink America's trade deficit with China, but the best way to do that would be to focus on the subsidies that China provides its companies through lax environmental standards.
  • President Trump’s unfortunate and misguided rollback of environmental protections has led to a depressing and widespread belief that the United States can no longer meet its commitment under the Paris climate change agreement. But here’s the good news: It’s wrong. In this op-ed, Michael Bloomberg explains why, no matter what roadblocks the White House and Congress throw up, the United States can — and I’m confident, will — meet the commitment it made in Paris in 2015 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet.
Cities Must Lure Private Dollars Fast to Meet Climate Goals l Thomson Reuters Foundation
  • Cities must find ways to tap major private investment fast if they are to build the "green" infrastructure needed to help prevent global warming reaching dangerous levels, experts say. The 90 cities in an international network of megacities committed to tackling climate change - called C40 - will need to raise $375 billion by 2020 for low-carbon transport, buildings and other infrastructure, the group says. Even more is needed worldwide to keep global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as agreed under the Paris climate deal which took effect last year.
  • As President Trump rolls back Obama's environmental legacy, billion-dollar corporations have stated that because climate change is a significant concern for their business, they'll keep on battling carbon pollution regardless of what the government says. Two years ago, 365 companies and investors — including Nestlé, General Mills, Mars, Staples, Unilever, and Timberland and North Face maker VF Corp. — signed a petition to state governors urging them to implement the Clean Power Plan. Signatories to that statement doubled down their support for the plan this week.
Failed Winter Rains, Looming El Nino Challenge India's Factories l Bloomberg
  • A heat wave combined with a lack of rain has companies across southern India bracing for possible water supply cuts and electricity shortages. The affected area represents a fourth of the nation’s manufacturing output, and includes global auto giants, textile makers and technology companies. The culprit is the weather pattern known as El Nino, and could add to the risk factor for India’s growth. Winter rains fell short and there is also the potential for deficient summer rainfall.
  • One of the world's biggest icebergs ever is poised to break off from an Antarctic ice shelf, but scientists say it's still hanging on by a 12-mile "thread." They also aren't sure when the now 110-mile crack will finally break open the rest of the way, creating a massive iceberg larger than Rhode Island. "It is particularly hard to predict when it will occur," said Adrian Luckman of Project MIDAS, a British Antarctic research project that's keeping watch on the ever-growing crack.
  • Jeffrey R. Immelt, General Electric’s chief executive, says climate change is real, a position at odds with the Trump administration. As a member of a White House manufacturing advisory council, he also has President Trump’s ear. And environmentalists are counting on Mr. Immelt, and other executives close to the president, to use that access to argue for policies to combat global warming when the White House is rolling them back.
Will Millennials Support a Carbon Tax? l Yale Climate Connections
  • A new campaign, Put a Price on It, is mobilizing young Americans to support a tax on global warming pollution. In this interview with Chandler Green, a graduate student at American University, Green discusses how when we account for the full costs of fossil fuels – so those are costs that we pay for air and water pollution, costs that we pay from global warming impacts – when we raise the price of carbon to account for those costs, we have then leveled the playing field for clean energy, we encourage growth there, and thus we reduce harmful emissions.
Clean Energy
 
Investors Are Building Their Own Green-Power Lines l Wall Street Journal
  • What if the wind sweeping down the plains of Wyoming could be harnessed to generate enough electricity to power the city of Los Angeles? It soon could, thanks to a $9 billion wind farm and electricity superhighway backed by billionaire Philip Anschutz—one of a series of transmission-line projects that private investors are bankrolling to bring renewable energy from America’s hinterlands to its urban centers. Unlike big transmission projects of the past, these lines aren’t proposed or paid for by utilities that can pass along the cost to customers and take a guaranteed profit. New power plans are privately financed, similar to oil and gas pipelines.
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
Why Fossil Fuel Divestment Matters Now More Than Ever l The Huffington Post
  • Opinion piece from 350.org highlighting the ability of the divestment movement to drive real action, by taking the fossil fuel industry to task for its culpability in the climate crisis, by naming its singularly destructive influence. It has led to commitments representing US$5.5 trillion in assets under management from over 700 institutions spanning 76 countries. This May they will lead a "Global Divestment Mobilization" with close to 150 events planned across six continents.
Selecting a Fossil Fuel Free Mutual Fund l Divestment Guide
  • This resource, “Extracting Fossil Fuels from your Portfolio,” developed in collaboration with Trillium Asset Management and 350.org offers insight and analysis about the financial viability of eliminating fossil fuel companies from investment portfolios and steps you can take to reinvest in clean, sustainable, and solutions-oriented options.
  • The University of California has reduced its investments in two oil companies with ties to the Dakota Access pipeline. UC spokesperson Claire Doan said in an email that the University has reduced investments in Energy Transfer Partners Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. and other fossil fuel companies as part of its broader investment strategy, which follows principles outlined in the UC’s sustainable investment framework.
One Year Later: Swarthmore Students' Thoughts on President Smith and Divestment (Opinion) l The Daily Gazette
  • In this opinion piece, two Swarthmore students reflect on their first year at the college, climate action, and progress on divestment.
Swarthmore Faculty Votes in Favor of Resolution Supporting Fossil Fuel Divestment l The Daily Gazette
  • On March 24th, 53 members of the Swarthmore faculty voted in favor of a resolution expressing support for fossil fuel divestment. The resolution was a reaffirmation of a previous 2015 faculty resolution, passed in the midst of Mountain Justice’s 32-day sit-in, which urged the Board of Managers to divest. The faculty chose to reaffirm the resolution, said Associate Professor of Sociology Lee Smithey, due in part to a “renewed momentum around divestment.”
  • In this opinion piece, a group of Seattle-based Bowdoin College reflect on President Clayton Rose’s recent trip to Seattle. These alumni suggested that Bowdoin needs to divest to remain true to Joseph McKeen’s “common good” foundational vision, and President Rose's response was “business as usual.”  He stated that fossil fuel divestment is merely symbolic, and does not have significant transformational value towards society—despite historical evidence to the contrary when one considers the success of the South Africa divestment campaign of the 1980s in breaking the apartheid system.
Dissent: Harvard Hypocrisy in Regards to Fossil Fuel Divestment (Opinion) l The Harvard Crimson
  • In a political and economic era where climate change denialism and deregulation are rampant, it is imperative that the University take a stronger position on the environment. This stance requires more than simply an acknowledgment of climate change to be true; it also necessitates tangible action. That action can only be shown through the unequivocal divestment of fossil fuels. It is, without question, hypocritical that the University continues to support climate change research and scholarship while continuing to hold even a small portion of its endowment in the fossil fuel industry.
For a Carbon-Free Future, Divestment at Harvard is the Wrong Answer (Opinion) l The Harvard Crimson
  • This past week, Divest Harvard prevented administrators from entering University Hall. They urged Harvard to announce a moratorium on investments in coal as well as to hold a University-wide meeting on divestment from fossil fuels in general. In contrast, the University has reiterated its long-standing view that divestment is both ineffective and politically dangerous. President Faust and other University leaders are policymakers, educators, researchers, and administrators. The Editorial Board encourages them to continue to prioritize the practical value of Harvard’s work over the impulse to feel good about our high-minded moralism.
  • Four NYU Divest members visited the corporate office of Board of Trustees Chairman William Berkley on March 31 in order to deliver a letter of demands. Their letter outlines demands for a revote on the board’s June 2016 decision to continue investing in the fossil fuels industry from the fossil fuels industry.

Hundreds of Auckland University Medical Students Call for Fossil Fuel Divestment l Scoop Politics

  • This week, over 100 medical students from the Auckland University Medical Students Association (AUMSA) rallied to call on the University of Auckland to cease investments in coal, oil, and gas companies, to protect public health and reduce the impacts of climate change. The rally coincided with a letter written to this end signed by over 300 medical students and the AUMSA executive, which was delivered to the Dean of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, Professor John Fraser.

Behind Closed Doors: Sit-in Negotiations and Penn’s Blatant Hypocrisy (Opinion) l The Daily Pennsylvanian

  • In this opinion piece, a UPenn student expresses how The University of Pennsylvania acted extremely hypocritically throughout the negotiations during the Fossil Free Penn sit-in. On Monday, March 27th, students began sitting in College Hall demanding immediate divestment from coal and tar sands companies and the initiation of a plan for full divestment within the next six months. Throughout the next four days, members of Fossil Free Penn met with three administrators consistently: Gregory Rost, Joann Mitchell and Hikaru Kozuma. In these meetings, the author began to understand the deep hypocrisy that Penn exhibits and its lack of true regard for student opinion or input.

Yale-NUS Students Launch Singapore’s First Divestment Campaign l Eco-Business

  • A group of students at Singapore’s Yale-NUS College has kicked off a campaign calling on the university to divest its S$365 million endowment from fossil fuel companies.
  • Students at the University of Pittsburgh and Chatham University are joining students at universities across the country as they urge trustees at their schools to sell off their endowment investments in fossil fuels — typically classified as coal, oil and natural gas — and pledge to be free of fossil fuel investments in the future.

Private Prison Divestment
 
Editorial: The Importance of Opposing Divestment at Princeton l The Daily Princetonian
  • On March 27, Princeton Private Prison Divest staged a walkout at the Council of the Princeton University Community meeting to show support for divestment from private prisons. The Editorial Board of The Daily Princetonian commends the University Resources Committee’s refusal to back down in the face of intense political pressure and urges the committee to provide no commitment to divest from private prisons.  Princeton University is an educational institution, not a political advocacy organization. Decisions made by the University must further educational goals, not political ends.

 

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: March 31st, 2017

New IEN Members

Upcoming Events
Face Social Enterprise Through Impact Investing l Boston University Questrom School of Business, April 5, 20174-6 pm 
  • Join a groundbreaking discussion in a 'Face The Nation' format for a conversation with leaders in the Social Enterprise and Impact Investing world.
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.
Impact Investing Program: Driving Social Purpose Through Measurable Investment Returns l Skytop Strategies, May 24, 2017, Washington D.C.
  • This full day program will deliberate on best practices in impact investing, and how they generate measurable social, environmental and economic results through bridging the gap between purpose and profit. Georges Dyer will be speaking on a panel titled "The Power of the SDG: How It Might Align Performance and Scale Risk Control."

  • The focus on ESG considerations as a means to creating sustainable value is on the rise, and traditional barriers are becoming less pronounced. Yet one question remains elusive: How can we leverage capital markets to improve not just risk-adjusted returns, but our society as a whole? Or, in other words, how can ESG investing help create sustainable value? To answer this, State Street conducted a global survey of 582 institutional investors, who were or were planning to implement ESG investing into their process, and 750 individual investors, including ESG and non-ESG investors. 
Proxy Voting Guidelines 2017 l As You Sow
  • When shareholders demand real change, companies pay attention. If you’re an investor seeking to align your voting with your ESG principles, download Proxy Voting Guidelines 2017 today. You will find recommendations to help you vote your shareholder proxy ballot, covering critical issues such as climate change, environmental health, and executive compensation. The Guidelines are designed to be handed off to your investment advisor or proxy voting service, or you can use them to help you vote your own proxies.

Sustainable / ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how U.S. states and municipalities are looking to their own green banks to drive environmentally-friendly investment as the administration of Donald Trump pushes the federal government out of that role; Big oil takes a sharper look at offshore wind; and sustainable investments hit $23 trillion.
  • A global survey of both institutional and retail investors sponsored by State Street Corporation found that traditional obstacles to ESG investing are fading, while one significant barrier remains: the lack of transparent, standardized and quality data. The Investing Enlightenment: How Principle and Pragmatism Can Create Sustainable Value through ESG found that nearly all (92%) institutional investors surveyed want companies to explicitly identify ESG factors that materially affect performance, while 60% note a lack of industry standards for measuring ESG performance as a significant barrier to full integration.
  • At the start of 2016, global sustainable investment assets reached $22.89 trillion, a 25% increase from 2014. Europe accounts for over half of these assets (53%), while the United States accounts for 38%, says a report just out from the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance (GSIA).
NY State Common Retirement Further Integrates ESG Within Manager Selection, Risk Frameworks l Chief Investment Officer
  • ESG factors now play a more pivotal role within the manager selection process and the risk management framework for the $178.6 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund (CRF). In its inaugural Environmental, Social and Governance Report, the fund outlines its previous ESG strategies and current objectives regarding sustainability, its methodology in determining material ESG risks, and plans to commit capital to sustainable investments in the future.
ESG-Oriented Millennials May Have Too-High Hopes l Wealth Professional
  • Millennial investors who are concerned about ESG factors may be setting unrealistic return expectations. The assessment was from Courtney Waterman of Schroders, according to Asset Servicing Times. Citing the 2016 Schroders Global Investors Survey, Waterman told attendees at the ALFI European Asset Management Conference that investors aged 35 and under expected an average of 10.2% per year in returns, compared to a global stock market performance of 3.75% at the time of the survey.
Climate Risk, Regulation & Science
 
How Climate Change Battles are Increasingly Being Fought, and Won, in Court l The Guardian
  • Around the world courts are stepping in when politicians fail to act, with South Africa’s government the latest to lose a groundbreaking climate lawsuit with judges ruling against its plans for a new coal-fired power station. Environmental NGO EarthLife Africa challenged the government’s approval of the proposed Thabametsi coal-fired power station on the grounds that it should have been preceded by an evaluation of its climate change impacts. The North Gauteng high court agreed and ordered the government to reconsider its approval, taking into account a full climate change impact assessment.
  • The United Nations is having to make a “step change” to finance the Sustainable Development Goals, says the UN Envoy for the SDGs. Speaking at a high-level conference on the sustainable economy organised by the German government, Macharia Kamau, Special Envoy for the SDGs to the President of the General Assembly and Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the UN, told delegates that the UN has to move beyond its traditional ODA (official development assistance) aid model.
Trump Administration Seeks Halt to Clean Power Plan Review l Bloomberg
  • President Donald Trump took another step toward dismantling his predecessor’s climate-change legacy, asking a federal appeals court to halt its review of carbon-emission rules for power plants. Trump, who famously called climate change a hoax in a 2012 tweet, on Tuesday signed an executive order that starts unraveling a raft of rules and directives to combat climate change. That was followed Wednesday by a bid to place on hold a 26-state suit challenging the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s environmental agenda -- the Clean Power Plan -- so the new administration can dismantle it ahead of a ruling on its legality.
US SIF Lisa Woll Issues Statement In Response To The Administration’s Executive Order To Roll Back The Clean Power Plan l My Social Good News
  • Lisa Woll, CEO of US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment released a statement this week in response to the Trump Administration’s executive order to roll back the Clean Power Plan. The statement begins: “On behalf of our 300 plus members, US SIF believes the Administration should be working aggressively to reduce carbon in the atmosphere and that this executive order accomplishes the opposite." Read the full statement here.
Mayors of Paris and London Announce Car Scoring System to Slash Air Pollution on City Streets l C40 Cities
  • Mayor of Paris and C40 Chair Anne Hidalgo and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan today announced they’re working to create schemes to score new cars based on their real-world emissions and their impact on air quality. The schemes will help consumers make better informed choices about the environmental impact of the cars they drive and prevent car manufacturers from exploiting loopholes in existing labelling schemes.
  • Science organizations spoke out forcefully Tuesday in response to President Trump's executive order to unravel Obama administration climate policies. The order directs the Environmental Protection Agency to rewrite the Clean Power Plan, a federal rule that set targets for carbon emissions targets.  "The EPA has a legal obligation under the Clean Air Act to curtail global warming emissions to help limit the impacts of climate change," said Union of Concerned Scientists President Ken Kimmell. 
Clean Energy
 
SASB Speaks: Sustainability Unhinges Norms in Power Sector Investing (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • Investors have traditionally allocated capital to the power sector for its stability in returns. Reliable and affordable electricity is fundamental to an economy’s well-being, indicating dependable demand drivers for power generation, transmission and distribution investments. While the pre-requisite of reliable electricity for an economy’s health will not change, developed countries around the world are seeing a drastic decoupling of electricity consumption from economic growth – which severely impacts the risk profile of investments in the power sector. 
Anheuser-Busch Joins ESG Initiative in Shift to 100% Renewables l Fund Strategy
  • Anheuser-Busch InBev has today joined a ESG initiative backed by Shareaction as it announces it will shift to 100 per cent renewable electricity. According to the announcement, the brewing giant will source all purchased electricity from renewables by 2025 – a move that is expected to reduce its operational carbon footprint by 30 per cent. Shareaction has been coordinating a coalition of pension funds and asset managers to work with companies to switch to 100 per cent renewables by an agreed date.
Despite Trump Move on Climate Change, Utilities’ Shift From Coal Is Set to Continue l The Wall Street Journal
  • The Trump administration’s move to roll back President Barack Obama’s signature climate-change policy may extend the life of some aging coal-fired power plants, but companies and energy experts say it is unlikely to reverse the U.S. utility industry’s shift to natural gas, solar and wind as leading sources of electricity.
General Higher Education Endowment News
 
  • U.S. university endowment performance picked up after losses in 2016 forced some schools to spend more than they earned and consider cutting back. Endowments of all sizes gained a median 4.4% in the six months through Dec. 31, according to Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service. Schools said equities contributed to the boost in performance, a move that may be short-lived as stocks turn choppy. The MSCI All-Country World Index rose 6.8% in the period, including reinvested dividends.
 
 
Fossil Fuel & Private Prison Divestment
 
New York's Duty to Divest From Fossil Fuel Companies: State and City Pensions Should Stop Pouring Money into Oil and Coal (Opinion) l The Daily News
  • This opinion piece discusses how New Yorkers have the power, along with other large states, to lead away from climate change and towards an alternative vision of clean renewable energy, good jobs, and environmental justice. If New York State were its own country, it would be the 12th largest economy in the world. That gives it the heft to send a strong signal to the financial markets that have such an outsized influence on global investment patterns. 
  • Asheville City Council's three-member finance committee will hear from city staff this week on a proposal to divest the city's $150 million budget account from Wells Fargo because the bank has played a role in financing the DAPL.
  • The York University Advisory Committee on Responsible Investment (YUACRI) has voted to recommend the University's divestment from arms manufacturers and fossil fuels. YUACRI was established in 2012 to integrate environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) considerations into investment management processes and ownership practices concerning York's $413 million endowment fund.
Swarthmore College Students Cited by College for Sit-In l philly.com
  • Last week, five members of Swarthmore College Mountain Justice, a group of students, faculty, and alumni committed to having the Quaker-founded college divest its fossil fuel investments from the school's endowment fund, received citations after they allegedly failed to leave Amstutz's office. They face sanctions that include a possible warning or probation.
With Sleeping Bags in Tow, 33 Students Begin Sit In Demanding Princeton University Divestment From Fossil Fuels l EcoWatch
  • This week 33 students at the University of Pennsylvania entered College Hall, sleeping bags in tow, to sit in with two demands. These demands were: (1) The immediate divestment of the University's endowment from all companies involved with the extraction of coal and tar sands and (2) The establishment and commencement of a plan for full divestment from all fossil fuel corporations within six months. The students plan to stay until these demands are met and are prepared to risk potential university disciplinary action.
Fossil Fuel Divestment: Harvard Students Blockade Entrance in Protest l Inside Climate News
  • This week, a group of Harvard University students urging university officials to pull the school's investments from fossil fuel companies blocked the entrance to one of the university's main administrative buildings. The group of approximately 20 undergraduate students gathered at the entrances to Harvard's University Hall demanding that the university commit to a permanent divestment from coal companies and hold an open, community-wide meeting on fossil fuel divestment. Harvard currently does not have any investments in coal companies in its $35.7 billion endowment though school officials have said they do not rule out re-investing in coal in the future.
Anti-Intellectualism Against Divestment at University of Pennsylvania is Dangerous (Opinion) l The Daily Pennsylvanian
  • In this opinion piece, University of Pennsylvania student Thomas Lee defends fossil fuel divestment as he discusses endowment risk, returns, and industry examples.
  • Most colleges and universities in the United States are invested in fossil fuel companies— including Harvard University, Stanford University, and Duke University—whether students know it or not. Emerson is no exception. Maureen Murphy, vice president for administration and finance, said the college has a $150 million endowment. The college has no active investments in fossil fuels, but it invests 7% of the endowment in fossil fuels indirectly. 
  • This week Princeton University announced its decision to continue funding for-profit prisons and immigrant detention centers. In this article, members of the divestment movement advocate for 'community members unapologetically make their voices heard'.
Walkout for Private Prison Divestment Disrupts Council of the Princeton University Community Meeting l The Daily Princetonian
  • Princeton Private Prison Divestment held a walkout and rally today at the Council of the Princeton University Community meeting. The protest was in response to the CPUC Resource Committee’s announcement of their decision to reject PPPD’s proposal that the University divest from private prisons.
Investment Manager News
 
NN IP bolsters ESG Investment Decision Process l Investment Europe
  • Dutch asset manager NN Investment Partners (NN IP) has partnered with data provider South Pole Group to strengthen the integration of ESG criteria in its investment decisions. South Pole Group provides information on companies’ carbon emissions, waste and water use. NN IP said this partnership will enable it to gain accurate insights across all asset classes into the emissions intensity of companies and to meet the most detailed information requirements posed by clients.
  • Dutch pension fund PME will expand its sustainable investments as it aims to sustainably invest 10% of its assets by 2021. The pension fund expects it can contribute to, for instance, affordable and sustainable energy, work and economic growth, sustainable innovation and sustainable cities.

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: March 24th, 2017

New IEN Members
(see list of all IEN members
 
 
Upcoming Events
 
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" 
Webinar: Age Diversity Within Boards l IRRC Institute, Mar 28, 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM EDT
  • A new report finds that there is very little age diversity within the boardrooms of S&P 500 companies. The new analysis also finds that the average age for all boards is 62.4 years, and that the average is persistent across companies by size and industry segment. 
Face Social Enterprise Through Impact Investing l Boston University Questrom School of Business, April 5, 20174-6 pm 
  • Join a groundbreaking discussion in a 'Face The Nation' format as we share a conversation with leaders in the Social Enterprise and Impact Investing world.
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.
 
Sustainable / ESG Investing
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights the thin margins in the waste management business that keep many environmentally-focused investors out of recyclers, but some are finding creative ways to still play a role; Green bond issuance in the first quarter may beat 2016, but the full year looks set to fall short; Is the Trump era the best or worst of times to invest in U.S. water infrastructure?; See where beverage companies stand on cutting water use in their supply chain.
NN Investment Partners Sketches Roadmap for Investing in UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer a solid path to value creation for society and shareholders: investing in a better world while achieving healthy financial returns. NN Investment Partners (NN IP) says it has now developed a tagging approach that allows for assessing SDG exposure of companies and for investing according to the SDGs.
ESG Investing – How to Handle AI and Robotics? l Nanalyze
  • This article discusses the effect that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) will have on companies that invest heavily in artificial intelligence and robotics which stand to displace up to 80% of all jobs if you believe the hype.
ESG: Essential Steps for Successful Long Term Investing l Morningstar
  • In this Q&A, Emma Wall interviews Mats Andersson from the Global Challenges Foundation to talk about ESG, sustainable long-term returns, and the fund providers who are getting it right.
JPMAM Creates Sustainable Investing Team Following ESG Fund Launch l Investment Week
  • In a bid to expand its ESG capabilities, J. P. Morgan Asset Management (JPMAM) has created the sustainable investment leadership team (SILT), shortly after launching its Europe Sustainable Equity fund. The group's new SILT team will be led by Jamie Kramer, head of strategic product management & ESG lead for global investment management. SILT will bring together senior leaders, portfolio managers and client advisers to drive a globally coordinated strategy for sustainable investing to help clients achieve their ESG investment objectives.
An Investor Discusses Driving Change by Doing Well l Green Biz
  • This Q&A is an edited excerpt from the Bard MBA’s Sustainable Business Fridays podcast. Sustainable Business Fridays brings together students in Bard’s MBA in Sustainability program with leaders in business, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. This Q&A explores values-first versus value-first investing: Educator, author and investor Cary Krosinsky argues that the "s" differentiating the two terms represents a significant shift in the impact investing field.
Advancements in ESG l Pensions and Investments
  • The knock on ESG investing — putting money to work with an eye toward environmental, social and governance issues — has always been that to do “good” with their investments, investors had to give up return. But in the last five to 10 years, companies, not investors, have picked up the ESG baton to put this style of investing on par with traditional methods.
How Trump Presidency Is Boosting Demand for Impact Investing, ESG Funds l Think Advisor
  • Tim Freundlich, president of ImpactAssets, says investors and wealth advisors have “an increased sense of urgency in aligning and deploying high-impact capital to what they see as a fast opening gap from government policies.” As a result of that urgency, he’s seeing more inflows into private debt and equity investments where “investors believe they can directly move the dial on impact through companies and funds.”
Musing About the Alphabet Soup of ESG, SRI, CSR, Etc. l G&A Sustainability Updates
  • Often in our conversations with managers at companies that are new to corporate sustainability and especially new to publishing corporate sustainability reports, we often move into exploration of the various terms and titles applied to corporate sustainability. This article outlines the different terms used and which ones are most frequently used today.
Green Bonds
 
BlackRock Launches Dedicated Green Bond Fund After Client Demand (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • BlackRock is launching a dedicated green bond fund, tracking the MSCI/Barclays/Bloomberg index at the request of clients. The UCITS fund will be euro-based – although it will include global currencies – and will be co-managed by Ashley Schulten, Head of Climate Solutions for Fixed Income, out of New York, and fixed-income portfolio manager Darren Wills out of London.
  • Demonstrating strong investor opposition to special interest efforts to weaken key elements of the shareholder resolution process (SEC rule 14a-8), a group of leading investor organizations representing $65 trillion in assets wrote last week to the Trump administration urging support for the SEC’s existing shareholder proposal process, which is providing wide-ranging benefits. The letter was sent Friday to Gary D. Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, who was urged in a February Business Roundtable (BRT) letter to amend or repeal allegedly burdensome regulations such as portions of SEC rule 14a-8.
Trillium Successfully Withdraws Greenhouse Gas Shareholder Proposal at Tractor Supply Company l Trillium Asset Management
  • Trillium Asset Management is pleased to announce that they have successfully withdrawn their 2017 shareholder proposal filed at Tractor Supply Company. The proposal asked the company to “…adopt quantitative, time-bound, company-wide, science-based goals for reducing total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from products and operations.” Trillium withdrew the proposal following a commitment from the company to set quantitative GHG reduction targets. The goals will cover both scope 1 and scope 2 emissions from their 1,600 stores located across 49 states. The company has committed to make these goals public by the end of 2018. Following their emissions evaluation Tractor Supply will begin responding to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
  • The record-breaking heat that made 2016 the hottest year ever recorded has continued into 2017, pushing the world into “truly uncharted territory”, according to the World Meteorological Organisation. The WMO’s assessment of the climate in 2016, published on Tuesday, reports unprecedented heat across the globe, exceptionally low ice at both poles and surging sea-level rise.
Paris Accord Could Make the World $19 Trillion Richer l Bloomberg
  • Efforts to slow climate change won’t just keep the planet habitable. They will also boost the world economy by $19 trillion. Investments in renewable power and energy efficiency will add about 0.8 percent to global gross domestic product by 2050, the International Renewable Energy Agency, or Irena, said Monday in a report produced for the German government. Governments are committing resources to green energy in a bid to keep warming within 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), of pre-industrial conditions, in accordance with the landmark Paris Agreement on global warming.
General Higher Education and Endowment News
 
Three Ways Universities Can Dramatically Advance Social Enterprise l Stanford Social Innovation Review
  • Alistair Wilson, CEO of School for Social Entrepreneurs, recently made a compelling argument about the limitations of universities in advancing social entrepreneurship. Chief among Wilson’s concerns is the vast number of people excluded from the traditional approach to teaching social enterprise and the importance of including voices far from campus in solving social problems.
Ex-Harvard Endowment Bond Manager Marco Barrozo Opens Hedge Fund l Bloomberg
  • Former Harvard University bond manager Marco Barrozo has launched a hedge fund as the industry comes off its worst year since the financial crisis. Barrozo raised more than $125 million for Cambridge Square Capital, according to filings this month with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The fixed-income fund, located in Boston, has begun trading and is raising more capital, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
How to Get the Most from DivestmentGuide.org l Divestment Guide
  • This article introduces DivestmentGuide.org, a project of DivestInvest Individual. The site is designed to augment collective NGO and business community efforts leveraging financial markets to reduce climate risk, making it easier to invest fossil fuel free, and accelerating the clean energy transition. Visit our About page to learn the approach and values driving site content.
College’s Break With Climate Change Deniers Riles Debate Over Divestment Strategies l The Huffington Post
  • Barnard College’s Board of Trustees announced earlier this month that it had made a “unique” climate decision. After months of deliberation and mounting pressure from students, faculty and activists, Barnard, like hundreds of other institutions and colleges, had decided to divest from fossil fuels. Unlike some institutions that have opted for full divestment from the industry, the New York college had chosen a different tactic: It would instead specifically divest from companies that “deny climate science or otherwise seek to thwart efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change.”
Despite Rumors, De Anza Foundation Divestment From Fossil Fuels Confirmed l La Voz News
  • De Anza Foundation has confirmed their 2013 commitment completion to fully disconnect with companies and organizations that use fossil fuels by June 2014. De Anza and Foothill’s foundations were the first of community colleges in the United States to vote for a commitment of fossil fuel divestment in 2013.
  • Cambridge University Zero Carbon Society is preparing for an escalation of direct action if the university council does not follow through with their demands for achieving divestment.
University of California Student Group Applauds News That UC Will Divest $150M in Fossil Fuels l The Davis Enterprise
  • The University of California has shed another $150 million in fossil-fuel investments, divesting from Sunoco and Energy Transfer Partners, two companies building the Dakota Access Pipeline. This comes after an announcement in September 2015 that UC had divested $200 million from coal and tar sands direct investments. After years of work by students, faculty, alumni, university workers and community members to push UC to divest from fossil fuels, students see this divestment as a step in the right direction and are cautiously celebrating their efforts.
Divest Harvard Plans to Blockade Massachusetts Hall l The Harvard Crimson
  • Divest Harvard plans to occupy Massachusetts Hall, which houses the offices of University President Drew G. Faust and other top University administrators, sometime next week in protest of the University's decision not to divest from the coal industry. Members of the activist group, which protests Harvard’s investment in the fossil fuel industry, had originally intended the blockade for Wednesday, though the group cancelled the demonstration after The Crimson learned of the plans. 
Columbia University to Divest from Thermal Coal Producers l Chief Investment Officer
  • Columbia University’s trustees have voted to divest from companies that earn a significant portion of their revenue from thermal coal production.  The university’s trustees have voted to divest from companies that take in more than 35% of their revenue from thermal coal production per the recommendation of its Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing.
York University Committee Recommends Divestment From Weapons and Fossil Fuels l Yahoo Finance
  • The York University Advisory Committee on Responsible Investment (YUACRI) has voted to recommend the University's divestment from arms manufacturers and fossil fuels. YUACRI was established in 2012 to integrate environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) considerations into investment management processes and ownership practices concerning York's $413 million endowment fund.

 

 

 

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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. 
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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).

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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