Weekly News Round-Up: October 6th, 2017

Upcoming Events
  • AASHE Conference and Expo: Stronger in Solidarity l AASHE, October 15-18, 2017, San Antonio, TX
    • IEN will be hosting a session on investing in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals and participating in a session on investing in clean energy.
 
 
New Resources
 
  • In this webinar, we will be joined by two students who manage The Dwight Hall socially responsible investment (SRI) fund at Yale, Russell Heller and Gabe Malek. They will discuss the origin, history, and mission of the fund, as well as how the fund is organized and managed. Follow the link to view the recording.
UNH Pathway to Platinum Report l University of New Hampshire
  • In September 2017, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) at Durham became one of only three institutions of higher education in the country to earn a STARS Platinum rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). This recognition places us at the highest level of sustainability performance among colleges and universities. UNH’s Platinum rating was made possible through a concerted, university-wide effort that engaged faculty, staff, and students over the past year. This report offers a snapshot of the metrics that underpin UNH’s accomplishments with regard to sustainability, the benefits that have come from the submission process, and a candid assessment of the challenges and opportunities that lay before us as we continue to work toward our shared vision of sustainability at UNH.
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how new pure electric vehicles coming to market will make for a crowded field where financial losses still loom large; ESG ETFs meet fixed income; and gender policies grab investor focus.
Steve Schueth on Dollars and Change l Wharton Business Radio
  • Steve Schueth, Director of SRI Conference and President of First Financial Affirmative Network, joins hosts Sandi Hunt and Nick Ashburn to discuss the upcoming Sustainable, Responsible, Impact (SRI) Conference on Dollars and Change.
  • Millenials are investing in ESG funds that invest in the stocks and bonds of companies that adhere to specific ESG guidelines. Each fund’s investment criteria differs slightly, but most look to invest in companies that promote issues such as supply chain transparency, a reduction on reliance on fossil fuels and a safe and fair workplace environment. By and large, they’ve been delivering competitive financial returns for their investors. Those in the 18 to 34 age range (as Pew defines the generation) have been leading the charge in increasing the popularity of these funds. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there are currently over 75 million millennials in the U.S.—the largest living generation in the country, and they also represent the largest group to invest in ESG funds.
Responsible Investing: Past, Present and the Next 25 Years l 3BL
  • This article contains Insights from the President of Parnassus Investments on the origins of values-based investing, how sustainability jobs are joining the mainstream, and expectations for broader and deeper ESG influences.
  • Natixis Global Asset Management has released the results of its 2017 Global Individual Investor survey. A total of 8,300 individual investors (750 in the UK) have been surveyed between February and March 2017 in 26 countries across Asia, Europe, the Americas and the Middle East, with minimum net investable assets of $100,000.
Cybersecurity Becoming Big ESG Concern l Pensions & Investments
  • Cybersecurity is moving up the agenda for institutional investors and their money managers as a responsible investment consideration, as several high-profile attacks and breaches bring the issue to the front of investors' minds. Sources at retirement plans and money management firms said the issue is being considered in particular when thinking through environmental, social and governance factors within investment portfolios. Some investors already are weaving cybersecurity into their expectations when it comes to money management. 
The Benchmark to End All Benchmarks? l Innovation Forum
  • The new World Benchmarking Alliance’s ranking of performance against the sustainable development goals might just become the list that CEOs worry about – but there are obvious pitfalls it must avoid.
Gender Focus Proves Rewarding for This ETF l Investopedia
  • The universe of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) dedicated to ESG investing principles is growing, and some members of this ETF sub-section are coming of age. That includes the SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF SHE, which tracks the SSGA Gender Diversity Index, debuted in March 2016, and as highlighted by more than $341 million in assets under management, it has gained traction with investors. Components in SHE's index are ranked by three gender diversity metrics, with the ETF's objective being "to provide exposure to U.S. companies that demonstrate greater gender diversity within senior leadership than other firms in their sector," according to State Street. SHE is up 12% year to date and 15.5% over the past year.
  • Over the past two years, Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff authorized spending of more than $6 million to close the pay gap between men and women at the cloud software firm. He's also closely aligned with B Team, a non-profit dedicated to the idea that businesses can be at the center of a "new era of sustainable, inclusive business for all." And he has taken a personal interest in causes related to ocean research. Now Salesforce Ventures — one of the most active investors in the corporate venture capital world — is creating a $50 million fund dedicated explicitly to software startups with working on services for workforce development; tools that promote opportunities for women or under-represented groups; companies creating better access to clean energy options or that improve supply chain performance; and apps that help non-profits or non-governmental organizations achieve their missions and interact with partners, donors and volunteers.

Investors Renew Push to get Sanderson Farms to cut Antibiotic Use l Reuters

  • Sanderson Farms Inc shareholders have filed another proposal aimed at convincing the third-largest U.S. poultry producer to stop giving medically important antibiotics to healthy chickens for disease prevention. Sanderson is the only large U.S. chicken producer that has not committed to curbing the use of those life-saving drugs. The new proposal from the non-profits As You Sow and Oxfam America will get a vote from investors at the company’s annual meeting in early 2018 if it is not successfully challenged by the company with regulators. More than 70 percent of medically important antibiotics in the United States are sold for use in farm animals. Scientists have warned that routine use of antibiotics in healthy chickens and other food animals contributes to the rise of dangerous antibiotic-resistant superbug infections, which kill at least 23,000 Americans each year and pose a significant threat to global health.
  • Last year, MSCI asked whether pay awards to U.S. chief executive officers reflected long-term shareholder returns, and found they did not. The bottom fifth of companies by equity incentive award outperformed the top fifth by nearly 39% on average on a 10-year cumulative basis. That study looked at awarded pay — of which 60%-70% reflected incentive stock awards. Awarded pay figures, which are based on the value of the company’s stock at grant date, lay out the range of potential CEO earnings, and are intended to align CEO and shareholder interests. We now extend that study to examine realized pay – how much compensation CEOs actually took home after exercising their equity grants. But realized pay was just as poorly aligned with long-term performance as awarded pay. More than 61% of the companies we studied exhibited poor alignment relative to their peers. We found little correlation overall between realized pay and long-term investment returns, as indicated by the very low R-squared value of 0.0093 shown in the article.
The Challenges of Passive ESG Investment l Pensions Expert
  • Bfinance's Joey Alcock outlines key considerations for schemes opting for passive ESG investment strategies, and says implementation should be adapted to the investor's specific preferences.
Investment Manager News
 
Northern Trust AM Launches Two ESG Index Funds l Real Estate Investment Times
  • Northern Trust Asset Management (AM) is launching two ESG funds, enabling investors to incorporate ESG principles into their portfolios. The Northern Trust World ESG Leaders Equity Index Fund and the Northern Trust Emerging Markets ESG Leaders Equity Index Fund will be managed by the MSCI ESG Leaders indices, and will enable investment into companies setting the standard in ESG criteria. The MSCI World ESG Leaders Index comprises best-in-class and mid-cap companies in 23 developed markets, while the MSCI Emerging Markets ESG Leaders Index will consider similar companies in 24 emerging market countries. The two funds will be the first in Europe to track the MSCI Leaders indices, in addition to a fund already available to US investors.
Introducing JF Fossil Fuel Free Funds l Jarislowsky Fraser
  • Jarislowsky Fraser and the University of British Columbia are pleased to announce their collaboration on the new UBC Sustainable Future Pool, which will invest in select Jarislowsky Fraser Fossil Fuel Free Funds, to offer a new choice for donors.
Green Bonds
 
BNP Paribas Launches Green Bond l Financial Times
  • A new bond is hoping to address climate change issues and boost the socially responsible investing market. BNP Paribas Asset Management has launched the Parvest Green Bond which identifies investments expected to have the most positive environmental impact.  It invests in bonds used to finance projects designed to mitigate or address climate change issues. Currently valued at €100m (£89m), it is managed by BNP Paribas AM’s fixed income team while leveraging proprietary analysis provided by its sustainability research team.
 
 
Sustainable Development Goals News
 
  • Enter the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015— a list of 17 audacious initiatives, including eliminating poverty, fostering decent work and economic growth, and responsible consumption and production. Designed to track where (region, goal), how much and by whom (private, government, charitable) resources flow, they immediately resonated with member countries. The SDGs also provide advisors with a definition of the planetary and societal needs, as well as products to offer clients that align with individual values. The 17 global goals provided by the UN SDGs are therefore a win-win for all involved.  A new report from InvestorFlow finds the most popular UN SDGs—from an impact investing capital allocation standpoint—include No. 1 (no poverty), No. 3 (good health), No. 6 (clean water) and No. 7 (affordable and clean energy).
BoP Investor Unitus Seed Fund Mapping Its Impact To The UN's Sustainable Development Goals l Forbes
  • In case you haven’t noticed, many players in the impact investing universe, from accelerators to funds, are using the UN's Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for their efforts. That is, the 17 SDGs are becoming a standardized language for assessing impact. Unitus Seed Fund recently announced it’s joined the club. According to managing partner and co-founder, it's the first fund in India to do so.  “Impact investing has been held back by the complexity of how we talk about impact,” he says. “By coming together around these goals, you can communicate in a way that’s clearer to investors.”
Clean Energy
 
Origis Energy USA announces 32.5MW solar project for Georgetown University l PV Tech
  • Origis Energy USA has announced a power purchase agreement (PPA) to develop a 32.5MW PV project for Georgetown University — with the project set to be constructed in La Plata, Charles County, Maryland. Once completed, the solar plant will generate approximately 75,000 MWh of power annually and power 49% of Georgetown’s electricity load for campus operations located in Washington, D.C.
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
Catholic Church to Make Record Divestment From Fossil Fuels l The Guardian
  • More than 40 Catholic institutions are to announce the largest ever faith-based divestment from fossil fuels, on the anniversary of the death of St Francis of Assisi. The sum involved has not been disclosed but the volume of divesting groups is four times higher than a previous church record, and adds to a global divestment movement, led by investors worth $5.5tn.
  • In 2013, HSU began the process to divest from fossil fuels. Since then, the goal of divesting has expanded and prompted growth within the university.
  • Chloe Maxmin and other Millennials pushing the Divest campaign are swiftly convincing Wall Street that investing in coal, oil, or natural gas is a sure-fire way to lose billions.
  • This past July the University of Toronto Asset Management (UTAM), the corporation responsible for UofT’s investments, released the 2016 Responsible Investing Report . President Gertler directed the UTAM to make this report back in April 2016, after he rejected a petition to divest the university from its fossil fuel holdings, after years of campus campaigning. This atricle explains why divestment should still be considered.