Transforming Investing for a Climate Safe Future - Plenary Panel at the 2017 Second Nature Summit

While at the Second Nature 2017 Presidential Climate Leadership Summit this February, members of the Intentional Endowments Network held a plenary panel focused on aligning higher education endowment investments with climate leadership goals. Speakers discussed the investment risks and opportunities posed by climate change, what the higher education sector can do in this area, and trends in business and the finance industry related to climate. 

Panel Speakers: 

  • Wim Wiewel, President, Portland State University
  • Bob Litterman, Chairman of the Risk Committee, Kepos Capital; Board Chair, Commonfund; Board Member, WWF
  • Geeta Aiyer, President, Boston Common Asset Management
  • Seren Pendleton-Knoll, Program Director, UC Berkeley Haas School of Business Center for Responsible Business 

The 2017 Presidential Climate Leadership Summit marked the 10 year anniversary of Second Nature's Climate Leadership Commitments (formerly the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment or ACUPCC).  This anniversary is very close to our hearts here at IEN. After seeing the potential of the higher education sector to become a leader in modeling social justice and sustainability in education, operations, community engagement and investments, Tony Cortese co-founded Second Nature in 1993 and led the organization for over 20 years. Ten years ago, Georges Dyer connected with Tony and they worked with several other partners and leading organizations in the field to launch the ACUPCC. This publicly accountable and transparent commitment to achieving climate neutrality has been signed by the Presidents of over 650 institutions.

Throughout their time supporting higher education institutions to become climate neutral, Tony and Georges saw endowments as a critical area to align with climate and sustainability goals. After the fossil fuel divestment movement took off, more and more institutions started evaluating how to approach climate action in their endowments. To create a space for higher education administrators and experts in the sustainable investment field to exchange best practices, Second Nature and Hampshire College held a meeting in April 2014 with a group of 120 leaders from the investment, higher education, foundation, and non-profit communities to explore the concept of the "Intentionally Designed Endowment." With continued engagement from those that attended the initial meeting, the Intentional Endowments Network was established. 

This panel, titled "Transforming Investing for a Climate Safe Future," incorporates these initial conversations into the context of today's investment landscape.