Weekly News Round-Up: October 28th, 2016

Resources

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education's 2016 Sustainable Campus Index l AASHE

  • The 2016 Sustainable Campus Index recognizes top-performing colleges and universities in 17 distinct aspects of sustainability, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). Institutions that achieved the top spot overall according to institution type include: Appalachian State University (Master's institutions), Colorado State University(Doctoral/research institutions), Green Mountain College (Baccalaureate institutions) and Kankakee Community College (Associate colleges).
Fiduciary Duty in the 21st Century U.S. Roadmap l Principles for Responsible Investment,  United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative and The Generation Foundation 
  • This roadmap sets out recommendations to fully embed the consideration of ESG factors in the fiduciary duties of investors in the US. The roadmap provides commentary on recent developments in fiduciary duty and sets out the business case for ESG integration. Drawing on over thirty meetings and calls with key senior stakeholders throughout the US, the roadmap addresses fiduciary training, corporate reporting, asset owner interaction with service providers, legal guidance, the development of investment strategies, ESG disclosure and governance structures. The roadmap also sets out suggestions for institutional investor best-practice in the US.
Investors, Corporates, and ESG: Bridging the Gap l Pricewaterhouse Coopers' Governance Insights Center
  • ESG reporting has become mainstream for companies, and investors expect transparent information about ESG issues. But there is a disconnect about what corporates disclose and what investors want to know. This report outlines how to bridge that gap.
How Foundations Can Stay Relevant in the Age of Networks l The Chronicle of Philanthropy 
  • Across our economy, our society, and our democracy, networks of all sorts are reshaping traditional institutions. According to The Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation President Genaro Lopez-Rendon, the question is whether philanthropic institutions see this new era of connectivity and shifting power relations as a path toward change and transformation or a threat to traditional grant-making models. How are we shaping our investments to make an impact that reverberate beyond the traditional financial bottom line?
 

Sustainable / ESG Investing
 
APG teams up with PGGM, MN to Build Sustainability Benchmarks l Investments & Pensions Europe
  • APG, the €443 billion Dutch asset manager, is developing a market standard for measuring the CO2 emissions of companies in which it invests. APG is also developing a benchmark for measuring the performance of its sustainable investments.
  • A whopping $6.6 trillion is invested “sustainably,” which means portfolio managers evaluate companies on the basis of environmental, social and governance factors, also known as ESG. It turns out that companies that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, maintain high workplace standards, and have diverse boards also benefit from avoiding fines and lower employee turnover. Over the long run the companies, and their investors, thrive.
US SIF Foundation to Release 2016 Biennial Report on US Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing Trends l Business Wire
  • The US SIF Foundation will release its biennial Report on US Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing Trends on Monday, November 14, 2016 at 9:00 am ET. US SIF CEO Lisa Woll and Trends Report project directors will host a media teleconference the same day at 1:00 p.m. ET. Media are invited to register for the teleconference by emailing ussif@lowecom.com.
Will Institutional Push into SRI and ESG Bring Better Benchmarks? l Institutional Investo
  • Growing institutional interest in SRI, which takes ESG factors into account, could speed up the development of reliable metrics. Through their ESG teams, blue-chip asset managers like BlackRock and State Street Global Advisors have started playing a bigger role in industry groups that push for better standards, a move that will help to set benchmarks, Theresa Whitmarsh, executive director of the Washington State Investment Board, predicts.

State Street Global Advisors Expands Suite of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) ETFs l Digital Jounral

  • State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), the asset management business of State Street Corporation (NYSE:STT), announced that the SPDR MSCI EAFE Fossil Fuel Reserves Free ETF (EFAX) and the SPDR MSCI Emerging Markets Fossil Fuel Reserves Free ETF (EEMX) began trading on the NYSE Arca. Developed to address growing client demand for ESG strategies and help investors divest from companies owning fossil fuel reserves while maintaining the benefits of core exposures to key benchmarks, the newest additions to SSGA’s ESG line-up are the first MSCI EAFE and Emerging Markets ex Fossil Fuel Reserves Free ETFs.
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how the Calvert deal shows the promise and challenges of ESG, State Street's new low carbon ETFs, record breaking green power installations, and new data on closing the gender gap.
Major Trends Management And Community Leaders Should Expect For 2017 l Forbes
  • Hank Boerner is chairman of the Governance & Accountability Institute, based in NYC. He’s been a corporate communicator, issue manager and crisis response coach for corporate leaders for three decades. In this Q&A, Boerner outlines important trends in corporate sustainability and responsibility management that are converging in 2016 and into 2017.
PRI Sets Out Nine Priority Conditions to Address in Sustainable Financial System Work l Principles for Responsible Investment
  • The PRI has released its report Sustainable Financial System: Nine Priority Conditions to Address. The report follows the PRI’s consultation with signatories between June and August. In the consultation, 30 underlying conditions that could undermine a sustainable financial system were identified and agreed by signatories. The following nine were prioritized as key obstacles, which PRI will use as a focus: Short-term investment objectives, Attention to beneficiary interests, Policy maker influence on markets, Capture of government policy by vested interests, Influence of brokers, rating agencies, advisors and consultants on investment decisions, Principal-agent relationships in the investment chain, Cultures of financialisation and rent-seeking in market actors, Investment incentives misaligned with sustainable economic development, and Investor processes, practices, capacities and competencies.
Morgan Stanley Exec Touts Sustainable Investing l Barron's
  • Sustainable investing is a sustainable trend—in large part, a Morgan Stanley executive says, because of millennials’ attitudes. In a late-2014 Morgan Stanley survey on sustainable investing, the 200 millennial respondents (of 800 total respondents) reported being attracted to the approach. Choi bats down the idea that sustainable strategies are unprofitable. One Morgan Stanley study, she notes, found that sustainable strategies’ returns equaled or beat those of conventional mutual funds over a seven-year period.

Ethical Investing’s Rebranding is Actually One of Substance l Financial Times

  • Ethical investing may be in the early stages of a makeover. In its old form, as a screen to exclude “sin” sectors such as tobacco and alcohol, academic research shows that it signally failed — excluding the sin stocks merely made them cheaper for those with fewer scruples, and the net result was that ethical funds underperformed. Now a focus on engagement could rescue ethical investing as a form of truly active management.
 
 
Impact Investing
 
  • Tom Mitchell of Cambridge Associates outlines the practitioner’s perspective around the growing interest of impact investing, a field that is rapidly evolving with an infusion of new ideas and participants: “In a world facing challenges related to a changing climate and stark social inequalities, the concept of impact investing is compelling, powerful and frequently misunderstood… Impact investors use pre-investment evaluation and post-investment measurement to understand how risks and benefits are distributed to investors, investees and society.” 
Vanderbilt Financial Group introduces new Impact Investing Think Tank, Impact U, at Annual Sales and Compliance Meeting l Digital Journal
  • Vanderbilt Financial Group will host their Annual Sales and Compliance Meeting on Thursday October 27th, and launch their newest project, Impact U. Impact U will house original content, in the form of interviews, videos, e-books, and podcasts with Impact Experts and Enthusiasts on a communal platform to spread the impact investing movement.
Impact Investing for Nonprofits: How to Make Your Assets Work for (Not Against) Your Mission | Huffington Post
  • Alex Haber offers lessons learned from RSF Social Finance’s experience over more than a decade of work on deepening their mission through our investment portfolio
 

Climate Risk, Science and Regulation
 
  • Climate change could spark the world’s next financial crisis, according to Paul Fisher, who retired this year as deputy head of the Bank of England body which supervises the country’s banks. “It is potentially a systemic risk,” Fisher said Monday in an interview in Sydney. A sudden repricing of assets as a result of climate change “could be the trigger for the next financial crisis,” he added.
  • Bridging the Divide: Climate Action is a short film designed to invite open and honest conversations about climate change across the country. It aims to inspire viewers to reach across divides of belief about climate change in their communities, to search together for common ground from which to take climate action, and to support political leaders who are willing to work together on climate change. 
  • This report provides an up-to-date overview of existing and emerging carbon pricing instruments around the world, including national and subnational initiatives. Furthermore, it gives an overview of current corporate carbon pricing initiatives. Another key focus of the report is on the importance of aligning carbon pricing with the broader policy landscape. The analysis provides lessons for policymakers on how maximize synergies between climate mitigation and other related policies, while managing potential tensions and tradeoffs.
What Climate Change Means for Investors l Entelligent
  • Under the 2015 Paris accord, renewable energy sources such as solar and wind will emerge as clear winners by the mid-2020s. Climate change may seem too gradual to be an urgent investment factor. Scientists analyze the impact of a warming planet over centuries. Such a long-term view typically resides outside of most investment outlooks and political discussions. But factors related to climate change—regulation, municipal efforts at adaptation to sea-level rise, and subsidies for renewables, to name a few—are already creating winners and losers. 
 
 
Clean Energy
  • Green energy accounted for more than half of net electricity generation capacity added around the world last year for the first time, leading energy experts have found. The International Energy Agency (IEA) said the milestone was evidence of a rapid transformation in energy taking place, and predicted capacity from renewable sources will grow faster than oil, gas, coal or nuclear power in the next five years.

 
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
Lehigh University Green Action Club Holds Fossil Fuel Divestment Protest l The Brown and White
  • Members of the Lehigh University Green Action Club held a rally last Thursday lobbying for the University yo divest from fossil fuel companies and instead invest in renewable energy companies.
  • On Oct. 4, the Cornell University Senior Leaders Climate Action Group released a report outlining different pathways to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035, furthering its commitment to the Climate Action Plan released in 2009. This opinion piece argues that fossil fuel divestment, combined with this plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2035, would increase endowment returns and make a clear statement that the University does not support the companies that systematically obstruct efforts to combat climate change.
Divest Florida State University Successfully Pushes Divestment Resolution at Student Government Association Meeting l FSU News
  • After testimonies and discussion lasting 30 minutes, the Florida State University (FSU) Student Senate passed Resolution 33 to divest FSU from fossil fuels with 19 votes in support and six opposed to the measure. Next, Divest FSU will be bringing the resolution to the Board of Trustees.
Health Organizations Urged to Divest From Fossil Fuels l World Medical Association
  • National medical associations and other health organizations around the world have been urged by the World Medical Association (WMA) to transfer their investments from energy companies relying on fossil fuels to those generating energy from renewable sources. At its annual Assembly in Taiwan, the WMA urged health organizations to ‘strive to invest' in companies upholding the environmental principles consistent with United Nations policy, and refrain from investing in companies that do not follow these principles.
  • This Op-Ed is a passionate letter urging Williams College to divest from fossil fuels by alum John Tull. 

Barnard fossil fuel task force to offer definitive divestment recommendation in November | Columbia Spectator

  • Barnard’s Presidential Task Force to Examine Divestment is conducting an in-depth economic and social analysis report on possible ways in which the college can divest from fossil fuels. When it submits its report to the board of trustees’ Committee on Investments next month, it will do so with a definitive recommendation on which path the college should take.

Fossil Fuel Divestment: How Wide A Net To Cast? | Seeking Alpha

  • Institutional investors have several paths to reduce exposure to carbon risk in their portfolios. Some use tilts and optimizations approaches to limit benchmark risk. But other investors increasingly are being urged, and even required by regulations, to explicitly divest from fossil fuel holdings. For investors going the divestment route, the potential impact on their portfolio can vary substantially, writes Linda-Eling Lee, MSCI's global head of ESG Research.

 

 

General Higher Education / Sustainability / Endowment News
 
  • Higher education has a strong influence in shaping the mental models of many of society's professionals and leaders and is a critical leverage point in creating a sustainable society. The American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) was launched in 2006 as a collective effort by higher education institutions to pursue climate neutrality in campus operations and integrate climate and sustainability into their education, research, and community engagement activities. Despite its lack of specific goals and metrics in comprehensive curriculum reform, research, community engagement, endowment investing, and campus resilience, it provides a necessary foundation for new initiatives supporting continuous improvements in these areas.
University of Chicago CIO Mark Schmid to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award l Chief Investment Officer
  • Mark Schmid, CIO of the University of Chicago endowment, will be honored with Chief Investment Officer’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the seventh annual Industry Innovation Awards on December 12 in New York City.

Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI) Newsletter l TCCPI

  • TCCPI is a multi-sector collaboration seeking to leverage the climate action commitments made by Cornell University, Ithaca College, Tompkins Cortland Community College, Tompkins County, the City of Ithaca, and the Town of Ithaca to mobilize a countywide energy efficiency effort and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. Their newsletter highlights current steps being made toward that goal.