Weekly News Round-Up: November 15, 2019

This week we’d like to hear from you! Please take a moment (or at least less than 10 minutes) to fill out the Sustainable Retirements Survey, and let us know your perspective on incorporating sustainable investing strategies into higher ed retirement plans. And for IEN members - please also complete the annual IEN Member Survey before the November 29th deadline!

Opportunities for Action

Sustainable Retirements Survey | Intentional Endowments Network

  • As more employees raise questions about this issue, IEN is developing a new initiative - the Sustainable Retirements Initiative - to provide institutions with a better understanding of the barriers and opportunities to addressing these stakeholder demands, fulfilling their fiduciary duties, and increasing beneficiary participation in plans. This survey is an early step in gathering data to better understand this landscape. Individual responses will be kept confidential, and respondents will have access to the summary results.

Endowment Watch | Diverse Asset Managers Initiative

  • Higher education has been a sector of American economic society that fails to report on the demography of endowment fund managers. That’s why DAMI created Endowment Watch, a national campaign calling on universities to be transparent and intentional about who exactly is managing their assets. Join higher education institutions like Georgetown University in their efforts to track and report who manages their assets. Learn more about the Diverse Asset Managers Initiative here.

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

  • Deadline: November 22, 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

Banking on a Low-Carbon Future: Finance in a Time of Climate Crisis | Boston Common Asset Management

  • Boston Common’s fifth annual study of how global banks are managing climate risks and opportunities builds on last year’s report, which shifted emphasis from bank policies to implementation and action. The report finds that the explosion of risk assessment tools and green banking industry initiatives in recent years has had little impact on commercial behavior including the expansion of fossil fuel financing, and calls on companies to take bold action.
 

Sustainable Investing By Institutional Asset Owners

Concordia University Foundation to Divest and Make 100% Sustainable Investments By 2025 | Business Wire

  • The Concordia University Foundation committed to end investments in the coal, oil and gas sector within five years. The Foundation also announced it would go further than this divestment and will be the first university foundation in Quebec with a target of 100% sustainable investments by 2025, including by doubling its social or environmental impact investment.

A Network of Foundations Takes on Big Ag by Financing Small Farmers and Sustainability | Inside Philanthropy

  • This article shares how foundations are using their endowment investments to advance their mission, including through the Transformational Investing in Food Systems Initiative, a network of funders committed to creating a community of practice where they could share investment opportunities, learning and insights into investing in small farmers, social justice and sustainability.

CPPIB Sustainability Report Shows Increased Investments in Renewable Energy | Benefits Canada

  • The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has dramatically increased its investments in renewable energy companies, from $30 million in 2016 to $3 billion as of June 2019. The organization’s investment teams are now required to conduct bottom-up analyses of climate change risks and opportunities for every major investment under consideration, with the results included in their screening memos and final investment recommendations. Also read coverage of CPPIB’s sale of private prison stocks.

The Russell Family Foundation Announces $6.38 million in Grants and Impact Investments | Tacoma Daily Index

  • The Russell Family Foundation (TRFF) announced six grants totaling $380,000 and three impact investments totaling $6 million to support a variety of place-based efforts in the Puget Sound Region and its impact investing portfolio, which seeks to maximize social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Hear more from TRFF on IEN’s recent webinar on sustainable forestry investment strategies.
 

Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Institutional Investors See ESG as Part of Their Fiduciary Duty – Survey | Pensions & Investments

  • A survey conducted by State Street Global Advisors of more than 300 global institutional investors found that 46% cited the need to meet fiduciary duty and regulations as a key driver for adopting ESG principles. Similar numbers cited ESG risk management and ESG risk mitigation as their primary motivators. Top barriers included a lack of reliable and consistent data, cost issues, and a lack of expertise in integrating ESG.

SRI, ESG or Sustainable Investing? Confusion Over Names Limits Growth, Report Says | ThinkAdvisor

  • According to a report from the Sustainable Finance Working Group of the Institute for International Finance (IIF), firms are currently using 80 different terms to describe various forms of sustainable investments. The IIF is working with Global Sustainable Investment Alliance and PRI, which track sustainable investing volume, to work toward a more common language on sustainable investing.

The EU Climate Transition and Paris-Aligned Benchmarks: A New Paradigm | S&P Global

  • In May 2018, the EU announced its action plan for sustainable finance, which included proposals to create two new carbon transition benchmarks (EU Climate Transition and Paris-aligned Benchmarks). The EU appointed a technical expert group to report on the minimum standards for new benchmarks. This article reviews the likely effect of the group’s proposals on indices.

(Listen) How ESG Is Being Integrated into Mainstream Investment Practice by Asian Investors | The Asset

  • In this podcast, The Asset speaks to Madhu Gayer, head of Investment Analytics & Sustainability, APAC at BNP Paribas Securities Services, on how the convergence of ESG topics, sustainable development goals, and classic market risk and market theory is changing strategic sustainable asset allocation among asset managers.

Everyone Is Talking About ESG:What Is It And Why Should It Matter To You? | Forbes

  • ESG has been brewing for a while, and is hitting the mainstream now, driven by united demand from employees, investors and customers. All three groups seem to have shifted from a passive to an active stance and are forcing companies to step up against climate change and social injustice.

Sustainable Investment Skeptics Are Becoming Believers | Chief Investment Officer

  • According to Schroders’ Institutional Investor Study 2019, the proportion of investors worldwide who do not believe in environmental, social, and governance investing has fallen to 11% this year from 20% in 2017. The decline was most notable in Latin America, where the percentage of skeptics fell to 12% from 29% in 2017.

ESG Has Significant Role in Private Markets – Carlyle Exec | Pensions & Investments

  • Unlike the early days of private equity investing when firms weren't as worried about ESG issues, ESG now plays a significant role in whether institutions will allocate money to private markets, David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-executive chairman of the Carlyle Group. And that role will only continue to grow, meaning private equity firms without a plan for ESG integration, will be left behind.
 

Shareholder Engagement

Proposed SEC Rules Could Muzzle Shareholders | Barron’s

  • The first salvo of the coming proxy season came not from an activist but from the Securities and Exchange Commission, which recommended limiting who can make shareholder proposals, and to require proxy advisors to show their recommendations to the companies they’re analyzing before sending them to their clients.

Leading Investor Group Rebukes SEC for Proposed Rules That Undercut Critical Shareholder Rights | Council of Institutional Investors

  • The Council of Institutional Investors criticized the SEC for proposing rules that undercut important shareholder rights and appear intended to limit shareholders’ voice at public companies in which they invest.
 

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 the San Francisco Fed’s conference on climate change, the continued rise in greenhouse gas emissions, the latest in electric vehicles, bushfires in Australia, persistent bias and diversity challenges in the financial sector, and more.
 

Socially Responsible Retirement Funds

Reputational Risk Drives ESG at Pension Funds More Than at Other Investors | IPE

  • More than one-third (35%) of pension fund respondents to the survey – carried out by State Street Global Advisors earlier this year – included reputational risk as a top three factor driving ESG investing at their institution, compared with 21% of endowment and foundation respondents, and 6% of sovereign wealth funds.
 

Community Impact Investing

Opportunity Zone Issues Prompt Study, Legislation | Pensions & Investments

  • Reports of possible wrongdoing by senior administration officials in implementing the Opportunity Zone program prompted several members of Congress to request further study of how the program is managed, and the introduction of several bills to add transparency and parameters to the process.
 

Green Bonds

Making an Impact with Green Bond ETFs | ETF .com

  • As more and more ETF issuers launch their own ESG products, it's gotten harder for investors to sort the real impact investments from those that make an impact in name only. Enter green bonds. This special category of debt allocates dollars toward specific eco-friendly projects, making it one of the most concrete ways for investors to make an impact with their money.

Partner Insight: How Might Impact Bond Investing Evolve Over the Next Five Years? | Investment Week

  • Investment Week asked Wellington Management's Campe Goodman about the purpose of his new impact bond fund and where this new market is heading.

Institutional Finance Update: Green Bond Issuance Exceeds USD 200 Billion | IISD

  • Green bond issuance surpassed a new record of USD 200 billion in October. The International Finance Corporation issued a USD 2 billion global bond to support the private sector in developing countries, and launched a green ‘N-Bond’ raising EUR 20 million. The Inter-American Development Bank issued a climate action bond of over USD 40 million, while the African Development Bank saw a USD 115 billion increase from its shareholders.
 

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

CFP Board Center for Financial Planning Welcomes Sponsors for 2019 Diversity Summit | PR Newswire

  • The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board Center for Financial Planning announced Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan Chase as Signature Sponsors, and Fiserv and Prudential as Major Sponsors for its 2019 Diversity Summit on November 13. The Summit will engage and hold stakeholders accountable for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the financial planning profession by showcasing case studies and best practices for hiring, developing and retaining diverse talent.
 

Gender Lens Investing

Finance Expert: Minimize Charity. Maximize Gender Lens Investing | Philanthropy Women

  • To help women build their own wealth in a way that will drive systems change, the nonprofit that finance expert Tracy Gray started, We Are Enough, has a three-year goal: to get three million women investing an average of $1,000 in women-owned businesses or gender lens investing. The total activity this will generate — $3 billion — will begin to chip away at the massive venture capital deficit that women now experience.

PitchBook-All Raise Report on Venture Financing in Female-Founded Startups Shows Progress, Yet Continued Gender Inequity | NBC

  • VC investment in startups with at least one female founder reached $46 billion in 2018, representing almost 20% of total VC investment and more than doubling the total from 2017. The key drivers of investment in startups with at least one female founder can be attributed to growing market awareness of gender inequity, an increase in mentorship networks and a rise in female general partners. Notably, companies with women on their founding teams are more likely to exit one year faster compared to the rest of the market. What's more, the number of exits for companies with at least one female founder is growing at a faster rate year-over-year than companies with male founders.
 

Student Managed Funds & Sustainable Finance Curriculum

A New Kind of MBA for a New Stage of the Startup Boom | University of Colorado Boulder

  • This article describes a new MBA program at CU Boulder’s Leeds School of Business: the High-Growth Venture (HGV) Fellowship.
 

Investment Firm News

Here’s What One Allocator Thinks of Five Investment Consultants | Institutional Investor

  • Rhode Island put out an RFP for an ESG consultant. A document from the investment commission reveals how five contenders stacked up.

2019 Real Assets Sustainable Investing Report | BlackRock

  • Sign-in required. BlackRock details its approach to sustainable investing and ESG integration, with performance data and best practice examples from across its global portfolios.

Credit Suisse Launches Responsible Consumer Fund | Investment Europe

  • Credit Suisse and Lombard Odier have jointly launched a fund with a focus on responsible consumption. The new strategy invests in companies that can benefit from the changes resulting from the transition to a more sustainable world economy.
 

Economic & Policy Shifts

A 'Green Interest Rate?' Fed Digs into Climate Change Economics | Reuters

  • While the Fed lags central banking peers such as the Bank of England in making climate change an explicit part of its financial stability remit, the San Francisco Fed’s first-ever conference on climate change and economics is the latest sign the Fed has started to take the risks and costs of global warming seriously.

No More Fire in the Kitchen: Cities Are Banning Natural Gas in Homes to Save the Planet | USA Today

  • Thirteen cities and one county in California have enacted new zoning codes encouraging or requiring all-electric new construction. The codes, most passed since June, are meant to keep builders from running natural gas lines to new homes and apartments, with an eye toward creating fewer legacy gas hookups as the nation shifts to carbon-neutral energy sources.
 
 

Climate Risk, Science, and Clean Energy

An Open Letter to Greta Thunberg from a Gen-X Investment Banker (and a Plea for Working Together) | Medium

  • In this letter, J. Safra Sarasin’ Head of Sustainable Finance Dev. reflects argues that if we could change the financial system such that it prioritises sustainability ahead of short-term profit, today’s banking leaders could be the exact kind of widespread, systemic change that youth activists have been calling for.

Banks Fail to Stop Financing Fossil Fuel Industry | Financial Times

  • Banks including HSBC, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs have publicly signalled their support for projects such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, which encourages companies to spell out the risks of global warming to their business. However the industry as a whole is failing to cut the funding available to the fossil fuel industry, according to a report from IEN member Boston Common Asset Management, a $2.4bn sustainability-focused US investment group which looked at 58 of the world’s biggest lenders.

Climate Risks, Opportunities, to Be Major Markets Factor in 2020 | New York Times

  • Climate change will impact assets stretching from U.S. municipal bonds to renewable energy stocks in India, adding another layer of volatility to global financial markets in 2020, according to speakers at the Reuters Global Investment Outlook 2020 Summit.

Burying Coal: Britain Shows the Way | Pictet

  • Coal is still an uncomfortably important source of power for much of the world. But the UK shows how countries can shed their dependence.

Renewables Meet 50% of Electricity Demand on Australia's Power Grid for First Time | Guardian

  • Australia’s main electricity grid was briefly powered by 50% renewable energy this week in a new milestone that experts say will become increasingly normal.

The World's Fourth Largest Cruise Line to Go 'Carbon Neutral' by 2020 | Telegraph

  • Italian cruise line MSC Cruises has announced its commitment to become the first global cruise line to go “carbon neutral” through a mix of technological innovation and environmental projects, and will begin offsetting all emissions by January 1, 2020. MSC has pledged its support to the Blue Carbon Initiative to preserve and restore coastal ecosystems.

Climate Change Could End Mortgages as We Know Them | CBS News

  • Climate change could punch a hole through the financial system by making 30-year home mortgages — the lifeblood of the American housing market — effectively unobtainable in entire regions across parts of the U.S. That's what the future could look like without policy to address climate change, according to the latest research from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Breathing New Life into Renewable Energy | Pictet

  • The clean energy sector faces a major stumbling block. The power it produces may be renewable, but the infrastructure it uses is far from it.
 
 

General Higher Education Endowment News

Endowments: They’re Not Just for Elite Universities Anymore | Community College Daily

  • Two-year institutions are steadily growing their endowments to help fund everything from scholarships for low- to moderate-income students, to fledgling-but-promising programming. This article summarizes trends in endowments among community colleges nationwide.

Addressing Endowment Concerns | Amherst Student

  • In this opinion piece, Amherst College CFO Kevin Weinman responds to student questions and details how the college approaches endowment spending to ensure intergenerational equity in the use of college resources.

Bowdoin Endowment Returns 10.9 percent in Weak Year for Colleges Nationally | Bowdoin Orient

  • Bowdoin’s endowment posted a 10.9 percent return on the fiscal year that ended on June 30—a performance second nationally only to that of Brown University’s endowment, which delivered a 12.4 percent return. The return was lower than last year’s 15.7 percent return. As of June 30, Bowdoin’s endowment was valued at $1.74 billion. The College spent $67.7 million dollars from the endowment on annual operations, nearly half of which supported financial aid.

On Princeton's Endowment | Daily Princetonian

  • In this opinion piece, a student argues for the campus community to consider big ideas for endowment spending, like funding reparations or eliminating tuition.
 

Fossil Fuel Divestment

Concordia University Foundation to Divest and Make 100% Sustainable Investments By 2025 | Business Wire

  • The Concordia University Foundation committed to end investments in the coal, oil and gas sector within five years. The Foundation also announced it would go further than this divestment and will be the first university foundation in Quebec with a target of 100% sustainable investments by 2025, including by doubling its social or environmental impact investment.

Foundations Held Returns Despite Dropping Fossil Fuels, Study Finds | Philanthropy News Digest

  • Foundations that have divested from fossil fuels have seen mostly positive impacts on their financial performance, a report from the Croatan Institute finds: 94 percent of survey respondents said that the decision to drop the conventional carbon-intensive energy sector from their portfolios had had a "positive or neutral" impact on returns. The report also found that nearly all respondents now have 1 percent or less of their portfolio invested in fossil fuels, while two-thirds indicated that at least 5 percent of their portfolios were invested in climate solutions.

Should San Diego’s Investments Be Based on Social Responsibility or Just on Making Money for Taxpayers? | San Diego Union-Tribune

  • A new proposal spearheaded by Councilman Chris Ward would require San Diego to shift the city’s investment strategy away from companies involved with fossil fuels, the border wall, private prisons, firearms and other controversial subjects.

About 100 Fossil Free Penn Members Shut Down Board of Trustees Meeting | Daily Pennsylvanian

  • A protest by about 100 members of Fossil Free Penn shut down a Board of Trustees meeting Friday that took place at the Inn at Penn. Chanting and singing, the protesters demanded a divestment town hall meeting with University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann, Board of Trustees Chair David Cohen, and Penn Chief Investment Officer Peter Ammon. The board meeting, which was scheduled to last an hour, ended about 20 minutes early after the protesters drowned out the trustees.

College Students Demand Climate Action from New York City Universities | Washington Square News

  • In a march, students from Columbia, CUNY, The New School and NYU, among others, called for their colleges to achieve carbon neutrality and divestment of fossil fuels.

One Year After Calls for Divestment, Northwestern’s Board of Trustees Continues to Refrain from Action | Daily Northwestern

  • After a year of inaction from the Board of Trustees, students renewed their calls for Northwestern divest from fossil fuels during a recent Advisory Committee on Investment Responsibility’s open meeting.
 

Partnership Opportunities
 
Calendar of Upcoming Events

IEN Events:

IEN Webinar: Using Endowment Portfolios to Invest in Sustainable Forestry Strategies in the U.S. | Intentional Endowments Network, watch the recorded webinar

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! 

 

Other Events - November 2019:

SRI Conference l SRI Conference & Community, November 13-15, 2019, Colorado Springs, CO IEN Members can use code 'SRI30IEN' for a discount when registering.

NU Sustainable Investing Summit | Northeastern University, November 16, 2019, Boston, MA

Center for Financial Services Conference 2019: ESG Investing | Lehigh University, November 18, 2019, New York, NY

Using Internal Sustainability Funds to Drive ESG Performance | Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, November 19-22, 2019, Atlanta, GA

Including People with Disabilities in Nonprofits and Foundations: Accessibility & Equity Webinar Series | RespectAbility, November 20, December 4, December 11, January 7, January 9, January 15, all 1:30pm ET (webinars)

December 2019:

RI New York | Responsible Investor, December 4-5, 2019, New York, NY. IEN asset owner members are eligible for a complimentary pass using discount code RINY19AO.

Managing Climate Risks Forum | CleanTechIQ, Impax Asset Management and MSCI, December 10, 2019, San Francisco CA. Complimentary admission is given to asset owners (pensions, foundations, SWFs, endowments), investment consultants & family offices - please contact us to register at info@cleantechiq.com.

Are We Feeding Ourselves Thirsty? | Ceres, December 10, 2019, 12pm EST (webinar)

 

2020 Event Preview:

GreenFin Summit at GreenBiz 20 | GreenBiz, February 4-6, 2020, Phoenix, AZ, IEN Members can use Discount Code GB20IE to receive 10% off registration. 

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! 

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.

Investor Summit on Climate Risk and Ceres Conference | Ceres, March 23-26, 2020, New York, NY

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

Get up to date IEN News

Sign up for our Newsletters