Weekly News Round-Up: November 30th, 2018

Weekly News Round-Up: November 30th, 2018

Please find this week's news round-up below. 

Have a great weekend,


Nicole Torrico (formerly Harman)
Program Manager, The Intentional Endowments Network

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New IEN Members
Sign-On Opportunities

Global Investor Engagement on Meat Sourcing

  • The FAIRR Initiative and Ceres have just launched a new investor engagement which is now open to new investor sign-ons: The Global Investor Engagement on Meat Sourcing. The engagement will focus on six of the largest global restaurant chains, and will ask these companies to set, and report on, a clear strategy for how they are managing climate and water risks. Companies included: McDonald’s Corporation (MCD); Yum! Brands International (YUM); Restaurant Brands International (QSR); Chipotle (CMG); The Wendy’s Company (WEN); Domino’s Pizza Inc (DPZ).

Statement of Investor Commitment to Support a Just Transition on Climate Change


More information on these opportunities is available on our Sign-On Opportunities page.

Sustainable Investing by Institutional Asset Owners

Russell Foundation Boosts Impact Investments l The Non-Profit Times

  • The Russell Family Foundation (TRFF) has shifted impact investments in its portfolio from 7 percent to 76 percent over the past several years. Impact investments now comprise roughly $100 million of its $141-million endowment. During that time, 2013-2018, the portfolio outperformed its blended benchmark by 2.7 percent annualized (7.9 percent versus 5.2 percent annualized returns.) 

How Can Foundations Influence Investors? Just Ask! l McKnight Foundation

  • This article highlights the results of how, on the day the Trump Administration withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement, The McKnight Foundation emailed its fund managers with a simple request: please join an investor letter on climate mitigation ahead of the G20 meeting in Germany. It urged participating governments to implement the Paris Agreement and drive low-carbon investments. The letter underscored that influential economic actors want action on climate. 
New Reports

Addressing Climate Risks and Opportunities in the Investment Process l IIGCC

  • This ‘how to’ guide is intended to support asset owner trustees and boards in their deliberations on incorporating climate-related risks and opportunities into board level processes. As a practical tool, the guide provides a series of questions and answers, examples of best practice and useful resources, to support implementation at each step of the investment process.
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Survey: ESG Investing On The Rise at Nonprofits l Next Billion

  • One in eight organizations does not currently invest in sustainable investing strategies but plans to begin in 2019, according to a recent survey. The SEI Nonprofit Management Research Panel polled 105 organizations in October, including 75 that were nonprofits, and 30 others representing corporate, union or government retirement plans as part of the Institutional Investors Sustainable Investing Survey 2018.

Red Flags at Nissan Kept Majority of ESG Funds Away From Fall l Bloomberg

  • A handful of investors can credibly claim they foresaw -- and avoided the 6.5 percent plunge in share price -- after the chaos at Nissan: the vast majority of funds and ETFs that screen holdings for good governance. As of the latest filings, only five out of 60 U.S. ESG funds and ETFs that invest internationally held shares of Japan’s Nissan, according to a review by Jon Hale, global head of sustainable investing research at Morningstar.

From Upstream to Mainstream: ESG at a Tipping Point l Investment News

  • Over the past two decades, ESG interest steadily gained traction among investors. In 2018, that interest has reached a tipping point. SRI values went mainstream this year, gaining broader acceptance among generations and wealth groups. The numbers speak to the groundswell of interest. In a year's time, the percentage of Millennials expressing a high level of interest in ESG investing jumped from 26% to 35%, advisers say, while the percentage of Gen Xers embracing ESG spiked from 16% to 25%.
  • Sustainable investing may take hold in China eventually, but for now it’s mainly a project for foreign investors. Polluted Beijing is an apt place to consider how international asset managers can incorporate concerns about the environment into their investment choices. But China’s domestic share owners simply expect returns. Meanwhile, reliable information on ESG factors is scarce, investors and companies talk past each other and there are plenty of other issues to worry about.

Is Impact Investing Too Good To Be True? l Reuters

  • In this article, Reuters spoke with Amit Bouri, the chief executive officer of GIIN, about the future of impact investing.

Female Advisers More Likely to Consider ESG Investing Strategies l Investment News

  • A recent study conducted by InvestmentNews Research and sponsored by Calvert Research and Management measured financial advisers' perceptions of ESG investing. Among other trends, the study showed notable differences in male and female advisers' perceptions of ESG.  Overall, usage of ESG investing strategies is up 25% (from 35% to 46%) year over year. While nearly one in two advisers are now constructing portfolios taking ESG factors into account, the trend is much more pronounced among women, the majority of whom (53%) are doing so.

MSCI Reveals Extent of ESG-Screened ETFs' Outperformance l City Wire

  • The extent to which ESG-screened funds can outperform non-screened equivalent has been assessed by MSCI. The index provider used the six recently-launched BlackRock ESG-screened ETFs, which showed four of these six would have outperformed. The report modeled the ETFs' respective performance over the five years to 28 September 2018. It showed that the MSCI World, Japan, EM, and USA categories outperformed the peers, while the EMU and Europe funds underperformed over the same timeframe.

Signs That Institutional Investors May Be Reorienting Towards Sustainable Investing l Forbes

  • This article discusses a new investor survey and report issued by Bright Harbor Advisors, a private fund advisor, providing some compelling evidence that institutional investors are warming to sustainable investing. 

Non-Financial Performance Measurement is Biggest Hurdle for ESG Investing l Institutional Asset Manager

  • This article discusses the view that measurability and comparability of non-financial performance remain the biggest hurdles to ESG investment growth, according to a new report from BNY Mellon.

Students Explore ESG Investing during NYC Ecosystem Deep Dive l Tuck

  • This article highlights how sustainable investing executives from BlackRock and Morgan Stanley discussed the sector’s challenges and opportunities with Tuck MBA students at an event this month.

Bloomberg Unveils Sustainable Finance Week l O'Dwyer's

  • Bloomberg is bringing together more than 1,200 financial, business and policy decision-makers to help chart a course for moving sustainable financing practices into the mainstream at the first-ever Sustainable Finance Week. The event, which runs in New York from Dec. 3-7, is set to cover such topics as good governance and the role of boards, investing in gender equality, ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) in emerging markets and the emergence of new products and platforms that address sustainable finance.


Shareholder Engagement

Comment Letter: Fiduciary Duty Guidance for Proxy Voting Reform l Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation

  • Keith Johnson heads the Institutional Investor Services Group at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.; Susan N. Gary is a Professor of Law at the University of Oregon; and Cynthia Williams holds the Osler Chair in Business Law at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. This post is based on their Comment Letter in advance of the SEC’s Proxy Process Roundtable.
General Endowment News

Largest Gift Ever to Higher Education Will Make Johns Hopkins Need-Blind l Inside Higher Ed

  • Michael Bloomberg announced this week a $1.8 billion gift to Johns Hopkins University for the purpose of making the institution need-blind. The gift is the largest donation to an individual American college, by far. Hopkins has in recent years been operating as if it is need-blind, meaning that applicants are considered for admission without regard to their financial need. With this gift, Hopkins will make need-blind admissions an official policy and commitment to applicants.

Harvard Endowment CEO Hires Another Ex-Columbia Colleague l Boston Globe

  • Harvard University’s endowment chief has hired a fourth former colleague from his previous job at Columbia University. Harvard Management Co., which oversees the $39.2 billion endowment, named Sanjeev Daga as chief operating officer, the university said in a statement. He starts in February.
Climate Risk, Science, and Regulation
  • A major scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies presents the starkest warnings to date of the consequences of climate change for the United States, predicting that if significant steps are not taken to rein in global warming, the damage will knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the American economy by century’s end. The report, which was mandated by Congress and made public by the White House, is notable not only for the precision of its calculations and bluntness of its conclusions but also because its findings are directly at odds with President Trump’s agenda of environmental deregulation, which he asserts will spur economic growth. 

Vanuatu to Sue Fossil Fuel Firms for Climate Change l Eco Business

  • As the small Pacific island state grapples with the threat of rising sea levels caused by global warming, major fossil fuel companies find themselves in deep water as the country plans to take them to court over their contributions to climate change.

Bipartisan Climate Fee Backers to Plant Flag During Lame Duck l Bloomberg Environment

  • A small group of Democratic and Republican House members plan to introduce a carbon tax bill this week, the first bipartisan climate legislation in a decade. While it has virtually no chance of moving during the lame-duck session of Congress, the bill could be a starting point for climate legislation after Democrats assume House control in January.

How Extreme Weather is Shrinking the Planet l The New Yorker

  • This article discusses how with wildfires, heat waves, and rising sea levels, large tracts of the earth are at risk of becoming uninhabitable. But the fossil-fuel industry continues its assault on the facts.

Biodiversity, Climate Change Issues Gain Traction Among Global Investors l The Sun Daily

  • The global investing community is moving away from businesses that affect climate change, as reflected in the number of signatories to the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), which rose from 63 in April 2006 to 1,961 in April 2018. This article highlights how, according to RAM Ratings, biodiversity and climate change, which are increasingly gaining traction with the global investing community, will underscore how money flows in the future.
  • This article highlights how an October report from the United Nations’ scientific panel on global warming found that avoiding the worst devastation would require a radical transformation of the world economy in just a few years. Central to that transformation: Getting out of coal, and fast. And yet, three years after the Paris agreement, when world leaders promised action, coal shows no sign of disappearing. While coal use looks certain to eventually wane worldwide, according to the latest assessment by the International Energy Agency, it is not on track to happen anywhere fast enough to avert the worst effects of climate change. Last year, in fact, global production and consumption increased after two years of decline.

Texas Is About to Create OPEC's Worst Nightmare l Bloomberg

  • This article highlights how total U.S. oil production rising at the fastest pace in 98 years, and the pipeline bottleneck in Texas set to ease by end of 2019, are presenting OPEC with one of the biggest challenges of its 60-year history. If Saudi Arabia and its allies cut production when they gather Dec. 6 in Vienna, higher prices would allow shale to steal market share. But because the Saudis need higher crude prices to make money than U.S. producers, OPEC can’t afford to let prices fall.
Fossil Fuel Divestment

Trustees of Forbes Library Divest From Fossil Fuels l Forbes Library

  • The Trustees of Forbes Library have divested their investments from companies involved in extracting fossil fuels. This move was made in an attempt to reduce climate change by tackling its ultimate causes.The board voted unanimously to make this shift in April of this year and the $4.8 million portfolio is now free of fossil fuel companies according to the library’s investment firm, Bartholomew & Company. This move is in line with the City of Northampton’s investment parameters and a handful of other municipalities across the state.

The University of York Needs to Join the Fossil Fuel Divestment Wave (Opinion) l Nouse

  • This article discusses how the University of York has £217,000 worth of investments in fossil fuel companies. On one hand, this seems like an awfully large amount. On the other hand, it’s not that much – the University of Edinburgh had £6.3 million invested in fossil fuel companies. The author argues that if Edinburgh can divest £6.3 million, then why can’t York divest £200, 000?

Cambridge University -- A Leading Climate Research Institution -- Must Stop Funding Fossil Fuels (Opinion) l The Guardian

  • The author of this piece outlines that Cambridge University invests an estimated £377m in fossil fuels, and management has ignored years of campaigning including a motion to divest fully from fossil fuels that was passed by the staff governing body and hundreds of academics have called on Cambridge to divest, as have Labour party leadership and the former Archbishop of Canterbury

McGill Reconsidering Divestment l The McGill Tribune

  • The Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR), a governance body mandated to make recommendations to the McGill Board of Governors (BoG) on socially-responsible investing, announced on Nov. 1 that it would be compiling a second investigation into divestment from fossil fuels. CAMSR decided to reconsider their stance in light of the current context and recent developments regarding climate change. The decision follows the McGill Senate endorsing divestment at their Sept. 12 meeting. 
Calendar of Upcoming Events
RI Americas l Responsible Investor, December 5-6, 2018

Midwest Sustainable Investing Forum l Principles for Responsible Investment, December 10th, 2018

2019 Foundation Leadership Forum l AGB, January 27-29, 2019, Fort Lauderdale, FL

2019 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit | February 10-12, 2019, Tempe, AZ

2019 Endowment and Debt Management Forum l NACUBO, February 13-15, 2019, New York, NY

Fundamentals of the Opportunity Finance Industry/Certificate in Community Development Finance Course l  Center for Impact Finance at the University of New Hampshire & Opportunity Finance Network, April 10-12, 2019, Durham, NC




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