Weekly News Round-Up: October 11, 2019

This has been an overwhelming news week, but we’ve managed to stay focused on the latest in sustainable investing and higher education sustainability leadership nonetheless.

In the midst of a busy fall conference season, take a look at IEN’s half-day workshop at the upcoming AASHE Conference, Using Endowment Investing to Help Create a Sustainable Economy, and make a plan to join peers for an engaging session in Spokane on October 27th!

IEN Member Survey

Your opinion matters! Please take 5-10 minutes to participate in this year’s IEN Annual Member Survey. The annual member survey is an essential way for us to assess what's working, what's not, and to set priorities for 2020.

Participate in the survey now for the chance to win a free registration to the Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit, taking place February 23-25, 2020 in Atlanta, GA–our flagship annual event bringing together presidents, trustees, CFOs, endowment staff, and sustainability leaders to explore the risks and opportunities climate change poses for colleges and universities and their endowments.


IEN in the News

Now Is the Time for MIT to Divest from Fossil Fuels | The Tech

  • In this opinion piece, a member of the MIT Divest campaign argues for the school to invest in a fossil fuel free future, and cites IEN as a resource for the MIT Investment Management Company to get advice and support in how to align its investment strategies with MIT’s institutional values.

Opportunities for Action

2020 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit Call for Proposals | Intentional Endowments Network and Second Nature

  • Deadline TODAY: October 11, 2019. Colleagues from all disciplines, backgrounds, and perspectives are encouraged to submit proposals for next-level conversations, workshops, and concurrent sessions for the 2020 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit

Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change | The Investor Agenda

  • Deadline: November 2019. For Climate Week, 515 investors managing $35 trillion in assets released the Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change - that's the largest-ever group of investors calling on governments to step up climate ambition. The statement is still open for signature by institutional investors worldwide!

Sign-on Opportunities:


New Resources & Reports

Completing the Picture: How the Circular Economy Tackles Climate Change | Ellen MacArthur Foundation

  • This paper argues that putting in place a circular economy is a fundamental step towards achieving climate targets. Such a shift moves us beyond efforts to minimise emissions in our extractive linear system. It offers a systematic response to the crisis by both reducing emissions and increasing resilience to its effects. The benefits encompass meeting other goals such as creating more liveable cities, distributing value more widely in the economy, and spurring innovation.

Land of the Rising Sun and Offshore Wind | Carbon Tracker Initiative

  • In this report, Carbon Tracker analyses the financial and economic viability of new and existing coal power investments in Japan. In doing so, it aims to shine a spotlight on the risks associated with investing and operating coal power in Japan.

The Speed of the Energy Transition | Carbon Tracker Initiative

  • This paper provides a framework for navigating the mosaic of often conflicting scenarios for how the energy system is evolving, the implications for the fossil fuel sector and the road to Paris.

Sustainable Investing By Institutional Asset Owners

Catholic Institutions Pledge to Increase Impact Investments in Climate Action and Social Equity | Impact Alpha

  • Six U.S.-based Catholic institutions with a combined $40 billion in assets issued a “Catholic impact investing pledge,” committing more of their capital toward the twin crises of climate change and social inequity. To learn more about the pledge and sign on, visit the Catholic Impact Investing Collaborative here.

Norway’s Pension Fund Divests from Upstream Energy Companies | Chief Investment Officer

  • The Oslo-based Government Pension Fund Global announced on Wednesday that it will remove upstream oil and gas companies from its $1 trillion portfolio. The loss of $5.5 billion in equity follows a June proposal from the Ministry of Finance to move away from financial instruments associated with volatile oil prices.

Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Callan's 7th Annual ESG Survey Shows Continued Commitment to Implementation | PR Newswire

  • IEN member Callan, a leading institutional investment consulting firm, announced the results of its seventh annual ESG Survey, noting that 42% of U.S. institutional investors incorporated ESG factors into their investment decision-making process in 2019. Since the survey's launch (2013), there has been a 91% increase in respondents incorporating ESG factors into investment decisions.

NYC Retirement Systems’ S in ESG | Top 1000 Funds

  • John Adler, mayor’s trustee and advisor to New York City’s $200 billion five retirement systems, highlights the critical role investors play in protecting workers’ rights and ensuring a just transition as the global economy adapts to the implications of climate change. NYC Retirement Systems has a responsible contractor policy within its real estate allocation, and broader real asset portfolio.

ESG Investing Provides Strong Returns | FT Adviser

  • A previous criticism of ESG was that, in order to invest with the view of making a positive impact, growth or income would need to be sacrificed to some degree. But recent performance data from Morningstar pours cold water on such claims.

Asset Owners Allocating More to ESG – Survey | Pensions & Investments

  • Institutional asset owners are making significant ESG allocations and planning to do even more, according to a CFA Society New York survey conducted at the recent ESG and Climate Asset Owner Summit. Of the 89 asset owners surveyed, 45% reported that ESG is fully or significantly integrated across their portfolios, and 39% plan to more formally integrate ESG into their investment processes.

Responsible Investing Makes Striking Inroads – Survey | Pensions & Investments

  • Interest in responsible investing and implementation of responsible investing policies made significant gains in the last year, according to Aon PLC's 2019 Global Perspectives on Responsible Investing. Those gains were reported by both corporate pensions, where responsible investing sentiment grew to 86% from 56% a year earlier, and public pensions, where it grew to 92% in 2019 from 70%.

SDGs and Private Debt | Investment Europe

  • The long-term commitment and buy-and-hold philosophy of private debt goes hand in hand with the long-term goals of contributing to a more sustainable economy and prosperous society.

A New Kind of Private-Equity Firm | Crain’s Chicago Business

  • Kip Kirkpatrick and Marty Nesbitt's Vistria, which focuses on private-sector investments that contribute to a public good, expects to close soon on a $1 billion fund, putting it in league with larger firms like GTCR and Madison Dearborn.

Six Takeaways from the All About Impact Measurement and Management | SEAF

  • This blog post summarizes a panel discussion to demystify impact measurement and management and provide the latest insights and best practices from leading practitioners in the field, hosted by the Women Impact Investing Network and Georgetown’s Net Impact Chapter with support from the Beeck Center.

(Listen) How to Think About the Confusing and Sometimes Contradictory World of ESG Rankings | Wealth Management

  • In this podcast, WealthManagement.com speaks with Claire Veuthey, director of ESG and Impact at IEN member OpenInvest on what financial advisors most need to know about ESG rating systems.

Here Is What 1200 of the World’s Leading Impact Investors Focus On | Forbes

  • This week saw the gathering of 1200 global impact investors and professionals in Amsterdam for the 10th annual Global Impact Investing Network Forum.

The Unsustainable Sustainable Investing Boom | Project Syndicate

  • As financial institutions rush to profit from the boom in sustainable investing, they risk overselling its ethical and commercial benefits. It would be a shame if a movement with genuine potential to change the world were stopped in its tracks by old-fashioned misselling.

Vice Still Pays When You’re Managing Billions | Washington Post

  • Myriad studies are available purporting to prove both that socially responsible investing hurts returns, and that it can boost performance. For credit investors, the trick to investing with a conscience without hurting returns may lie with which corporate bonds they load up on as much as with those they choose to shun.

ESG Investing in Emerging Markets | Morningstar

  • With governance issues and lighter regulation, emerging markets throw up challenges for ESG investors.

Shareholder Engagement

Three Fund Giants Clash Over Sexual Harassment Proxy Votes | CityWire

  • Three of Europe’s largest ESG funds have clashed on their voting decisions on sexual harassment-related motions at both Amazon and Alphabet. Robeco and NN Investment Partners both voted in favor of the shareholder motion to establish a report on sexual harassment at the two tech giants, while Nordea Asset Management was found to have voted against the proposal on both counts.

Shareholder Coalition Demands GM Support California Clean Air Standards | The Detroit Bureau

  • With the battle with the United Auto Workers also becoming a fight for shareholder support, a coalition of major shareholders are demanding that General Motor Co. join other automakers, including Ford Motor Co., and sign an agreement to honor California’s clean vehicle standards. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and a coalition of 25 major investors with $1.1 trillion in collective assets under management are calling on General Motors to make the commitment to the California standards.

Biggest U.S. Index Funds Oppose Most Climate Proposals in Shareholder Votes | Reuters

  • While votes on climate-related shareholder resolutions often take center stage at corporate annual meetings, they seldom draw support from the two top U.S. index fund firms, BlackRock Inc and Vanguard Group. The reticence of the two largest index fund providers to back these proposals draws criticism from some investors and climate activists.

Op-Ed: Investors Are Getting Closer to a Climate Change Tipping Point | CNBC

  • An estimated $23 trillion in losses will be caused by climate change over the next 80 years, with a 4°C rise in global temperatures. A network of global investors representing $35 trillion in assets - Climate Action 100+ - has used its shareholder weight to gain commitments from BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Equinor and Glencore. But only 1 in 10 of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas–emitting corporations have targets in place to reduce emissions as required in line with the Paris Agreement.

Report Highlights Evolving ESG Disclosure in Proxy Statements | IR Magazine

  • US companies are continuing to ramp up ESG-related disclosures and visual presentations of board processes in their proxy statements, according to an analysis of this year’s crop.

Sustainable Business Spotlight

Read the latest observations on sustainable business trends from Greenbiz:

Good Business | Bloomberg

  • In Bloomberg’s weekly guide to sustainable finance, read about sustainable and green bonds, the fact that only 8% of senior private equity investment roles are currently held by women, and more.

Socially Responsible Retirement Funds

401(k) Plans Lag in ESG Investing | InvestmentNews

  • American investors have been pouring money into funds focused on environmental and social good, but among those investors has been one notable exception: participants in workplace retirement plans. This is likely to change according to experts, who believe 401(k) and other defined-contribution plans will be a major growth driver in future years for such investment strategies, due to a shift in investor demographics and a pivot by asset managers. To help shape this movement, join IEN’s new project on Integrating ESG Options into Higher Ed Retirement Plans.

(Watch) ESG Investing for Retirement | Pensions & Investments

  • Chris Sharpe, portfolio manager for the Natixis Sustainable Future Funds, discusses his investment management experience and the growing popularity of target date funds. Incorporating ESG investment considerations into target date funds is a relatively new development, bringing the best of both worlds together.

Expect More Ethical Saving Options for 401(k) Plans | Financial Times

  • Within six years, demographic changes will mean more than half the US workforce will be millennials or younger. Millennials rank as the demographic group most eager to invest using ESG and impact criteria, according to a Bank of America study.

Green Bonds

Green Bond Market Just Getting Started | InvestmentNews

  • A lack of uniform definitions and reporting standards makes it difficult to calculate precisely the size of the market, but analysts' estimates peg the green bond market at roughly $136 billion. And it's growing rapidly.

Op-Ed: How Green Sukuk Could Help Africa Fight & Fund Climate Change | CNBC Africa

  • By 2040, the economic cost of climate change disruption in Africa is expected to be between $45-50 billion per year. This op-ed argues that as African countries search for new green financing sources, green sukuk – capital market instruments similar to bonds where proceeds raised are exclusively earmarked for the financing of environmentally friendly projects – should be considered. Sustainability is the next frontier for Islamic finance and instruments such as Green sukuk have great potential to help Africa meet its green financing needs.

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Gender & Racial Equity Investing Opportunity in the US | Reinventure Capital

  • From Reinventure: “We hope this Field Note will inspire and embolden you to retire prevailing wisdom wherever it conflicts with evidence. We encourage you to discuss the findings and conclusions herein with colleagues, advisors, consultants, and clients, and to form your own fact-based opinions and action plans. Please note that we focus this Field Note on gender and race in the US because these are the factors we know firsthand. We encourage you to take this Field Note as a catalyst to consider other social factors as well.”

Yale Women in Clean Energy Defy Industry’s Gender Imbalance | YaleNews

  • Women may be underrepresented in clean energy careers in general, but there is no shortage of Yale women alumni working in renewable energy. Credit the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where more than half of the graduate students pursuing a master’s degree are women.

Gender Lens Investing

Q&A: Kiva Eyes Impact Investing After Surpassing $1B in Loans to Women | Devex

  • (Subscription required) Goldie Chow, director of impact at Kiva, discusses the organization's evolution and how it plans to support financial inclusion for women moving forward.

Student Managed Funds & Sustainable Finance Curriculum

New Sustainable Investing Program | Bentley University

  • There is a hot job market for financial analysts who are savvy in ESG issues that the Financial Times calls an ESG "war for talent." Now Bentley’s new undergraduate minor and finance concentration in sustainable investing is aiming to fill those roles.

Investment Firm News

Global Impact Platform | Phenix Capital

  • Launched in Q2 2019 by Phenix Capital, Global Impact Platform is an impact fund database, designed as the key tool for institutional investors looking to develop and implement an impact mandate.

BlackRock 'Breaks New Ground' with Circular Economy Fund | Euromoney

  • BlackRock has launched a new thematic fund, the BGF Circular Economy Fund, which aims to drive investment in businesses already benefiting from, or contributing to, the transition to a circular economy.  The fund has been established in partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which is providing the investment firm with expert insights and guidance on circular economy principles and practices.

Natixis and EDHECinfra Team Up to Evaluate the Impact of ESG on Infrastructure Investing | Mondo Visione

  • IEN member Natixis and EDHECinfra launched a new three-year research chair, directed by the same team that created an unlisted infrastructure indexing platform. The chair's aim is to create useable, comparable documented measures of the impact and risk profile of social and environmental factors on infrastructure investments.

OpenInvest Provides Bank Of The West With Personalized ESG Investment Portfolios For Its Customers | PR Newswire

  • IEN member OpenInvest, the tech-enabled asset manager that enables customization, direct indexing and impact investing at scale, announced that it will offer financial advisors at Bank of the West's BancWest Investment Services access to customizable values-based portfolio generation tools.

CIO's Top Knowledge Broker Series: NEPC's Kevin Leonard | Chief Investment Officer

  • As head of the public fund consulting practice at IEN member investment consulting firm NEPC, Kevin Leonard works with his clients in all asset classes, including alternative investments. But, lately, thanks to the current low-return environment, he’s especially focused on a couple of pressing issues. This interview covers his views on building recession-proof strategies.

Danish Boutique Picks ESG Specialist Firm to Run Equity Fund | Citywire

  • Danish boutique Formuepleje has handed over its Better World Global Opportunities fund to ESG investment specialist IEN member Impax Asset Management. The fund, which is Denmark-domiciled, was officially launched in August and is designed to identify compelling investment opportunities through ESG considerations.

BlackRock Taps Former Wellington Impact Head to Lead New Unit | Citywire

  • BlackRock has hired Wellington Management’s former head of impact investing Eric Rice as head of active equities impact investing, which combines expertise from BlackRock's active equities and sustainable investing teams.

Impact Labs Introduces IMPACT FULL STACK | PR Newswire

  • Impact Labs Inc. announces the release of IMPACT FULL STACK, a software and services offering for investment professionals seeking to modernize the investment experience with impact/ESG factors, tax-efficiency and risk-optimization.

Amundi's CPR AM Launches Sustainable Urbanisation Fund | Investment Europe

  • CPR Asset Management, the thematic centre of expertise of Amundi, has expanded its €9bn thematic equities range with the launch of a fund focused on sustainable urbanisation. The new strategy is an actively-managed, non-benchmarked global equity fund that will invest across the urbanisation ecosystem.

REYL Group Launches Dedicated Impact Investing Asset Management Affiliate | Institutional Asset Manager

  • The REYL Group has launched Asteria Investment Managers, an affiliate exclusively dedicated to social and environmental impact investing, to offer institutional investors access to a wide range of asset classes fully focused on this theme.

Schneider Electric Announces the Creation of Its Third Impact Fund “Schneider Energy Access Asia” | Voltimum

  • Schneider Electric announced at its Global Innovation Summit in Barcelona that its partners Norfund, EDFI and Amundi have agreed to create the new impact fund targeting the 350 million people who have no energy access mainly in India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Paine Schwartz Closes Latest Sustainable Food Chain Fund at $1.4 billion | Pensions & Investments

  • Paine Schwartz Partners closed its latest sustainable food chain fund, Paine Schwartz Food Chain Fund V, at $1.4 billion, exceeding its fundraising target and hard cap. Investors in the fund include the $145.4 billion Texas Teacher Retirement System and $8.3 billion Rhode Island State Investment Commission.

Economic & Policy Shifts

Time’s Up for Climate Lobbyists | Top 1000 Funds

  • In this post, the chief executive of PRI argues that we need to redouble our efforts in addressing negative corporate climate lobbying.

States Take Lead on ESG Investment Regulations While Feds Stand Still | Bloomberg Law

  • The U.S. is witnessing a growing state-level patchwork of regulations designed to spur sustainable ESG investments. In Part 1 of a two-part series on ESG, Kirkland & Ellis’s Ali Zaidi says while federal regulators are fairly silent, states seem eager to fill a regulatory signaling void—becoming the stateside regulators to listen to on ESG matters.

Climate Risk, Science, and Clean Energy

Putting Their Faith in Renewable Energy | Wind Power Monthly

  • Religious organisations have been leading the exodus from fossil-fuel investments. Now, convinced by the economic case and with pressure to act on the growing climate emergency, they are proactively looking to put money into renewables.

Oil Companies Ponder Climate Change, but Profits Still Rule | New York Times

  • They are caught between investors who want greener energy and those who simply want a strong return on their investments.

Investors Get Lost in Big Oil's Carbon Accounting Maze | Reuters

  • Wide variations in the way oil companies report their efforts to reduce carbon emissions make it difficult to assess the risk of holding their shares as the world shifts away from fossil fuels, senior fund managers say.

Capital Costs Rise on Sustainability Concerns | Petroleum Economist

  • An intensifying investor focus on sustainable investing and the climate emergency is impacting the oil and gas sector, increasing the sector’s weighted average cost of capital.

The Rise of U.S. Youth Climate Activism | Harvard Political Review

  • Within youth-led organizations like Zero Hour, the U.S. Youth Climate Strike, and Sunrise Movement, youth climate activists are demanding change through marches, rallies, summits, and lobbying events. This article reviews their strategies. IEN members will have a chance to hear directly from Sunrise Movement Executive Director Varshini Prakash, one of the keynote speakers at the 2020 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit.

Climate Activists Block Central London Streets as Boris Johnson Derides Them as 'Uncooperative Crusties' | Time

  • Hundreds of climate change activists camped out in central London on Tuesday during a second day of world protests by the Extinction Rebellion movement to demand more urgent actions to counter global warming. Cities in Australia, elsewhere in Europe and other parts of the world also had climate change protests.

General Higher Education Endowment News

Cornell, Penn State Endowments Return 5.3%, 7.7% for Fiscal 2019 | Chief Investment Officer

  • Coverage of various higher ed endowments’ fiscal year 2019 returns continues this week. Coverage also includes analysis of Harvard and others.

General Higher Education Sustainability News

Columbus State University Joins the Georgia Climate Project | Columbus State University

  • Columbus State University has joined the Georgia Climate Project, a statewide consortium working to improve understanding of climate impacts and solutions in Georgia. CSU joins Emory University, Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia, Agnes Scott College, Georgia Southern University, Spelman College, and the University of North Georgia. Don’t forget that this year’s 2020 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit - including a dedicated Endowment Investing Forum -  is taking place in Atlanta!

(Listen) Interview with Bill McKibben | Middlebury Magazine

  • Author and environmental activist Bill McKibben talks about Middlebury’s Energy2028 initiative, the history of nonviolent protest, and how to live in the world we seek to change.

(Op-ed) Colleges Can Lead on Climate Change | CommonWealth Magazine

  • American universities are increasingly demonstrating local leadership to both directly reduce and eliminate campus greenhouse gas emissions and incubate solutions that can be replicated and scaled throughout the world. Colleges and universities are uniquely positioned to lead:  American campuses are mini-municipalities requiring real-world decisions about how to both deliver energy and responsibly manage budgets.

The Increasing Value of a Degree in Sustainability | The University Network

  • With just over a decade left to prevent irreversible damage caused by climate change, the value of a degree in sustainability has never been higher.

Sustainable Steps | UNC-Chapel Hill

  • At the three-year mark of the Three Zeros Initiative (net zero water usage, zero waste to landfills and net zero greenhouse gas emissions), learn how sustainable plans are evolving to meet the needs of our students, staff, faculty and surrounding community.

Fossil Fuel Divestment

Now Is the Time for MIT to Divest from Fossil Fuels | The Tech

  • In this opinion piece, a member of the MIT Divest campaign argues for the school to invest in a fossil fuel free future, and cites IEN as a resource for the MIT Investment Management Company to get advice and support in how to align its investment strategies with MIT’s institutional values. 

University of Vermont Will Not Divest, Says UVM’s New Leader of Sustainability | Vermont Cynic

  • President Suresh Garimella’s pick to run sustainability issues at UVM said he won’t push for divestment from fossil fuels, despite calls from students. Garimella has tasked Richard Cate, vice president for finance and University treasurer, to oversee UVM’s sustainability and climate action issues. Students reacted in two letters to the editor, and University Treasurer subsequently responded in his own letter, “Divestment not our only option.”

University of California Divestment Decision Offers Insights Into Feasibility of Divestment at Harvard | Harvard Crimson

  • As the UC system — which holds a mix of public and private assets — disentangles itself from the fossil fuel industry, some experts say it may offer a glimpse of what it would look like for Harvard to follow a similar path. A spokesperson noted that, “As a long-term investor, Harvard Management Company considers all ESG factors that may impact the financial performance of our investments.” Students also weighed in in a Letter to the Editor.

(Watch) Can Divestment Encourage Change? | Morningstar

  • LGIM's David Barron says divesting from a company can help encourage the firm to change for the better.

UCLA Community Weighs in on Benefits of UC’s Recent Fossil Fuel Divestment | Daily Bruin

  • UCLA students and faculty say they think the University of California’s recent decision to divest from fossil fuels is both financially and environmentally beneficial.

Tufts Climate Action Extends Pledge to Parents, Alumni to Withhold University Donations Until Divestment | Tufts Daily

  • Tufts Climate Action is urging current Tufts seniors, alumni and parents to withhold donations to Tufts until the university divests from fossil fuels. The petition encourages alumni and parents to withhold donations or to donate only to Tufts’ Sustainability Fund.

University of Missouri Students Advocate for MU to Divest from Fossil Fuel Industry | The Maneater


Partnership Opportunities
Calendar of Upcoming Events

IEN Events:

2020 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit | Intentional Endowments Network and Second Nature, February 23-25, 2020, Atlanta, GA.Registration is now live, with early bird rates available! Propose a session topic here before today's extended October 11th proposal deadline!

Other Events:

Campus Sustainability Month | AASHE, October 2019

Agrifood Conversations | iSelect Fund, October 17, 2019, 3pm CT (webinar)

Color of Education Summit | Public School Forum of NC, The Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity, and Policy Bridge at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, October 26, 2019, Raleigh, NC

Protecting Our Great Lakes: The Great Water Challenge & Opportunity for Investors and Policymakers | Ceres, October 25, 2019 8am PT / 10am CT / 11am ET (webinar)

2019 AASHE Conference & Expo: Co-Creating a Sustainable Economy | AASHE, October 27-30, 2019, Spokane, WA Join us for a special IEN half-day workshop on October 27 - Using Endowment Investing to Help Create a Sustainable Economy

Investing for Impact Symposium | High Water Women, October 29, 2019, New York, NY

21st Annual Endowment and Foundation Forum | Opal, November 7-8, 2019, Boston, MA

Everyone Should Get it — ESG | Pathstone, November 12, 2019, Boston, MA. Contact Events@Pathstone.com to request an invitation.

2nd Impact Summit America | Phenix Capital, November 14, 2019, New York, NY. Asset owner IEN members are eligible for complementary registration.

GreenBiz 20 | GreenBiz, February 4-6, 2020, Phoenix, AZ

Washington & Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference | Social Enterprises, March 2-4, 2020, Eugene, Oregon, IEN Members can use Discount Code IENCOMMCOMP20 to receive 30% off the cost of registration.

Croatan Forum 2020 | Croatan Institute, April 27-29, 2020, Durham, NC

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