Weekly News Round-Up: October 20th, 2017

Upcoming Events


The Oekom Impact Study 2017 and How to Measure Impact in Publicly Traded Investments l oekom, October 24, 2017, 8:00 - 10:30, New York, NY
  • This event will focus on the oekom Impact Study 2017 and the opportunities that exist in assessing impact in investment portfolios, and is free to attend.
Webinar: Path to Value Forum: Finding the Signal in the Noise l High Meadows Institute, October 24th, 2017, 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. EDT
Forest Resilience Bond Investor Roundtable l Blue Forest Conservation, Encourage Capital, Rockefeller Foundation, & WRI, October 30, 2017, New York, NY

The SRI Conference l November 1-3, 2017, San Diego, CA
 
The Case for Social Progress l Breckinridge Capital Advisors & Social Progress Imperative, November 1, 2017, San Francisco, CA
  • Please join Breckinridge and the Social Progress Imperative for a luncheon and panel discussion that will explore what social progress means today and how investors can help drive inclusive growth. Building off the success of the panel from the What Works 2017 conference, Breckinridge and the Social Progress Imperative are excited to continue the conversation on social progress. Our panelists will broadly introduce the Social Progress Index (SPI), explore the importance of inclusive growth today and discuss the investment case for the use of SPI.
Investing for Impact Symposium l High Water Women, November 30, 2017, New York, NY

2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit l Second Nature & The Intentional Endowments Network, February 4-6, 2018, Phoenix, AZ
New Reports
 
Embracing Sustainability l Appleseed Capital
  • This report details how and why Appleseed Capital is always looking for useful tools which can help identify, mitigate, or avoid investment risk, and how ESG factors, help avoid investment risks, which, in turn, should reduce idiosyncratic business risk. 
 
Endowment and Foundation Sustainable Investing News
 
Pitzer College to Invest $58 Million in Non-Fossil Fuel Index Fund l The Student Life
  • Pitzer College, along with asset management firm BlackRock, has launched the first-ever ESG-focused global equity index fund that is completely divested from fossil fuels, the college announced Sept. 21. Pitzer is set to invest $58 million of its $135 million-endowment into the fund, which represents the entirety of the public equity portion of Pitzer’s endowment. The creation of the fund is a continuation of the climate action plan that Pitzer announced in 2014, which included a commitment to divest 99 percent of the college’s endowment and create a fund to facilitate the investment of endowment funds into environmentally responsible companies.
Sustainability Focus, Extraordinary Performance l McKnight Foundation
  • Humming the iconic bars to Pomp & Circumstance, the McKnight investment team celebrated the “graduation” of its first impact investment. On October 2, an early market-rate mission-related investment — Generation’s Global Equity Fund — “graduated” from the experimental impact portfolio to the main $2.2 billion endowment. Increasing the original $25 million to a $75 million investment is proof that an impact investing program can have financial success.  And it gets better. Since McKnight's initial investment three years ago, Generation Global Equity has been the best-performing equity fund in the entire McKnight endowment. McKnight’s investment has returned 17.3% against the MSCI World benchmark’s 6.6% (as of June 2017). In three years, the initial $25 million investment blossomed to over $38 million – extraordinary outperformance by any measure.

 

Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how investors are putting more money into metals needed to build electric-vehicle batteries; More companies are pricing carbon internally; and Pala Investments' New Energy Metals Fund targets decarbonization.
Asset Owners Push to Satisfy U.N. Goals l Pensions & Investments
  • Institutional investor executives said they are now reflecting on — or have already implemented — ways to align their investment portfolios with the goals. Some pension funds are further along in the journey. The $337.2 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, is starting to map its current portfolio to the sustainable development goals to find "connectivity," said Anne Simpson, investment director of sustainable investments, speaking on a recent panel discussion at the annual Principles for Responsible Investment in Person conference, held in Berlin.
Impact Investing to Receive a GBP300 Billion Boost l AlphaQ
  • The UK National Advisory Board on Impact Investing is launching its report today with clear steps to create a more inclusive and sustainable economy. It reveals an opportunity to unlock an additional GBP300 billion over the next 10 years to directly help address social and environmental challenges including affordable housing, climate change and the social care crisis. The UK NAB is the UK’s voice in a Global Steering Group of 15-member states plus the EU, chaired by Sir Ronald Cohen, and was established as the successor to the Social Impact Investment Taskforce set up during the UK presidency of the G8.
U.K. Impact Investing Board Outlines Steps for Investors to Align With Sustainable Development Goals l Pensions & Investments
  • Institutional investors' capital should be aligned to the United Nations' sustainable development goals to promote an inclusive and sustainable economy, says a new report. The U.K. National Advisory Board on Impact Investing launched a report outlining five steps to reach this goal: adopt an inclusive and sustainable U.K. investment agenda; empower savers to invest in line with their values; put purpose at the heart of public procurement; accelerate the rise of purposeful business; and strengthen the U.K.'s role in international development finance.
  • Leading investor law firm Grant & Eisenhofer announced the launch of a new ESG Institute, a global thought leadership and advocacy group focused on legal considerations surrounding environmental, social and governance issues in institutional investing. The ESG Institute debuts as G&E marks its 20th anniversary as an advocate for investors internationally. Interest in sustainable and responsible investment continues to accelerate: in the past three years, global assets in the sector have soared by 25% to $23 trillion, according to the Global Sustainable Investment Review.
Betting on Social Progress l Breckinridge Capital Advisors
  • Traditional social and economic theory tends to link social stability to economic success, arguing that more economically prosperous societies are more socially stable. The argument goes that national wealth generates security and satisfaction, enabling citizens to move beyond basic needs to contribute to higher-order goals such as supporting their communities, helping develop and strengthen key institutions and generally driving humanity forward. But this line of thinking is being brought into question today. While most would agree the United States and many other developed countries have largely recovered from the global financial crisis, post-crisis economic improvements haven’t always translated into broader societal wellbeing because prosperity has not been sufficiently inclusive. This lack of inclusiveness presents broader challenges that can in turn undermine economic prosperity as well.
  • Canadian's investors dominate in a new ranking of the world's most responsible asset allocators. The list, which includes 25 sovereign wealth funds and pension funds responsible for $4.9 trillion in combined AUM, was developed by Breton Woods II, the impact investing initiative of non-partisan think tank New America.
Impact Investment: Foundations Go Deeper l Euro Money
  • While foundations may be known for their giving, their investment portfolios lack creativity when it comes to solving environmental and social challenges. Some are taking their missions further. According to the Foundation Center, at the last count there were 86,726 foundations in the US. Together they had more than $865 billion in assets. In Europe, there are some 130,000, according to Fondation de France, with a combined €22.5 billion. Whether in size of assets or in number, foundations are a large and powerful group of investors – because the majority of their money is indeed invested. European foundations allocate just 12% a year to their missions through grants and expenses, while US foundations allocate 7% on average.
oekom Impact Study 2017: The Impact of Responsible Investment on Companies Is Increasing l CSR Newswire
  • oekom research concluded in its Impact Study 2017 that the influence of the responsible capital markets is clearly positive. According to companies, the impact that responsible investors, banks and rating agencies have on the company’s sustainability efforts has increased considerably since the last survey in 2013. The sustainability rating agencies play a decisive role in this, whereas the UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) are currently less significant for most companies. The study of almost 500 companies around the world was conducted in partnership with PRI (Principles of Responsible Investment). 
Millennials Love ESG, Just Not As Much As Their Parents, Grandparents l Financial Advisor
  • Sustainable and socially responsible investing isn’t just for the kids, according to a recent Allianz Global Investors study. In the AllianzGI ESG Clarity survey, investors aged 65 and older were more interested in environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investing than younger generations. While ESG strategies are often pitched as appeals to young, affluent investors, 68 percent of the respondents aged 65 and older expressed favorable views towards ESG investing, compared with 59 percent of those aged 25 to 44.
ESG Analysis Grows in All Regions for CFA Institute Members; EMEA Takes Biggest Leap l Pensions & Investments
  • Portfolio managers and data analysts in North and South America continue to fall behind the Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia-Pacific regions in their use of ESG factors in their investment decisions and analysis, said a survey report released Wednesday by the CFA Institute. Although ESG consideration was up for all regions from the CFA Institute's 2015 survey, Europe, the Middle East and Africa replaced Asia-Pacific as the region where investors are most likely to take ESG issues into account at 85%, up from 74% in 2015. Meanwhile, some 81% and 68% of investors in the Asia-Pacific and Americas, respectively, said they take ESG factors into account, up from 78% and 59% in 2015.
General Endowments News
 
Harvard Endowment's Rebirth l Institutional Investor
  • After a decade of low returns and high turnover, the group responsible for managing Harvard's $37 billion endowment is beginning anew. Ushering in this era is CEO Nirmal Narvekar, an Ivy League Endowment Alum who joined in December.
United Nations Appoints New CIO l Chief Investment Officer
  • The United Nations has completed its search for the CIO position of its $62 billion staff pension fund, and announced it will hire Sudhir Rajkumar of India. The position is currently held by Carolyn Boykin, who reapplied for the job, according to Farhan Aziz Haq, deputy spokesman of UN secretary-general António Guterres. Haq was asked if the decision was made because of performance and he responded, “It is the Secretary-General’s prerogative to fill senior posts, and many senior posts have been advertised while there is still an incumbent in the post.”
Investment Manager News
Candriam Launches Academy for Sustainable and Responsible Investing l FTSE Global Markets
  • Candriam Investors Group, the pan-European multi-specialist asset manager owned by New York Life Investment Management (NYLIM), today launches the Candriam Academy, the world’s first free-to-access accredited training platform for Sustainable and Responsible Investing (SRI).
JPMorgan Mulls Further Sustainable Fund Launches l Fund Strategy
  • JPMorgan Asset Management is mulling further launches in the sustainable investing space, with global equity and Asian equity funds top of the list. The fund group currently has two ESG mandates; the Europe Sustainable Equity fund and the US-based Intrepid Sustainable Equity fund. Robert Hardy, head of the corporate governance team, says JPMAM has “an enormous amount of global expertise it could leverage” to launch further products.
Fossil Fuel-Free Fund Challenges Perceptions About Divestment With 16% Annualized Return l Benefits Canada
  • Carbon divestment doesn’t have to mean sacrificing investment returns, a Canadian asset manager is arguing.  On Monday, Genus Capital Management Inc. released a report on the four-year performance of its fossil-free Canadian and global equity fund. The results show from the end showed that from May 2013 to the end of last year, the fund saw returns of 16 per cent annually. That compares to the 13.3 per cent annual return reported by its benchmark over the period.
Caisse Aims to Cut Portfolio's Carbon Footprint 25% by 2025 l The Globe and Mail
  • The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec is setting bold targets to shelter its portfolio against the impact of climate change. The country's second-largest pension fund is seeking more profitable investment opportunities and means to avoid assets it forecasts will be left behind in a global marketplace being reshaped by an increasingly low-carbon world economy. The move comes as institutional investors around the world are reassessing climate risks and other so-called ESG factors in response to stakeholder pressures, marketplace shifts and new regulations.

Standard Live Investments Launches First Impact Fund l Portfolio Adviser

  • The SLI Global Equity Impact Fund, which is co-managed by Sarah Norris and Dominic Byrne, aims to invest in companies which have a truly positive impact to benefit the environment, society and clients. To achieve this SLI has used the universally accepted 17 United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework to develop its own impact process and analysis. All 17 SDGs are incorporated into the portfolio, while the UN’s associated targets will also inform the investment process. According to the SLI the fund then invests in global companies whose activities, technologies or products are specifically to provide solutions in areas such as healthcare, education and poverty.
  • The University’s divestment working group will host two ‘town hall’ consultation meetings in the coming weeks, seeking to gauge opinions from students and staff on selling off Cambridge’s investments in oil and gas companies. All members can apply for a ticket to the two events, which will take place at 1pm on October 25th and 4pm on November 9th, both at Lady Mitchell Hall on the Sidgwick site. Professor Dame Athene Donald, who is chairing the group, said the consultations would “provide an opportunity for those concerned about these issues to voice their opinions in a respectful manner.”
University of Toronto Announces Sustainability Committee l The Medium
  • The University of Toronto has announced a Committee on the Environment, Climate Change and Sustainability amid calls to divest from fossil fuel by labour unions and student group Toronto350.org. According to John Robinson, the committee was formed as a result of the decision of U of T’s president, Meric Gertler, to not partially divest from fossil fuels last year, but instead search for alternative sustainability initiatives. The group aims to focus on implementing initiatives that emphasize sustainability through current work by the committee.
Indigenous Women’s Delegation Pursues Fossil Fuel Divestment Across Europe, Amidst Growing Global Movement l Common Dreams
  • In the face of many dire challenges, Indigenous women leaders of the Standing Rock movement and their allies remain unyielding in their quest for justice regarding the violations of Indigenous rights, human rights and the rights of the Earth and climate perpetrated through the development of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and other fossil fuel projects across Indigenous territories in the U.S. and around the world. For the past two weeks, an Indigenous Women's Divestment Delegation to Europe has traveled through Norway, Switzerland and Germany to engage with political leaders, representatives of financial and insurance institutions, civil society groups, and members of the media to share personal accounts and calls to action for immediate divestment from fossil fuel companies that endanger rights and neglect Indigenous People’s right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Doctors Call on Health Super Funds to pull $1.7 billion out of Coal and Oil Companies l The Age
  • Hundreds of Victorian doctors and medical staff are pressuring their super funds to quit investing in coal and oil for the sake of health, as they did with tobacco five years ago. The group, which includes some of Australia's leading health experts, says there is overwhelming evidence that climate change is already making people sick and causing thousands of deaths.
Vassar College Campus Investment Responsibility Committee Votes to Reccomend Fossil Fuel Divestment l Miscellany News
  • In a historic vote last May, the Campus Investment Responsibility Committee (CIRC), which is made up of faculty, students, alums and administrators, and makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees on endowment investment decisions, voted to officially recommend direct fossil fuel divestment. The next step is to bring this decision in front of the Trustee Investment Responsibility Committee (TIRC), and this (also unprecedented) meeting between CIRC and TIRC will happen this Friday, Oct. 20, when the Trustees are on campus for their tri-annual convening.

 

  • Smith College students organized in protest against the school's investment in fossil fuels at a campus rally Thursday. Wearing t-shirts that said "Divest" and holding signs that said "#leadwithus," a group of several dozen students stood outside College Hall, where the Board of Trustees regularly meets. The event was organized by Divest Smith College, a student run group that was formed in 2012. On its website, the group states its opposition to the school's investment in fossil fuels.  The college currently has over $100 million invested in fossil fuel industry, according to Divest Smith. 
University of Vermont  SGA Resolution on Divestment l The Vermont Cynic
  • At this week's meeting, the Student Government Association passed a resolution that called on the board of trustees to divest from fossil fuels. The resolution demanded UVM divest from the top 200 companies who contribute the most to carbon emissions as indexed by the Carbon Tracker Initiative. The resolution also called for board transparency on fossil fuel investment and where the University endowment is being invested.
Private Prison Divestment
 
Letter to the Editor: Board’s response to Stanford University Prison Divest l The Stanford Daily
  • Last week, Stanford's Board of Trustees provided its response to the request by SU Prison Divest to review investments in private prisons and related companies. Given some of the dialogue that has occurred since then, this open letter from the Chair of the Special Committee on Investment Responsibility of Board of Trustees provides the community with information about the Board’s response.