Weekly News Round-Up: November 8, 2019

If you missed yesterday’s webinar on Using Endowment Portfolios to Invest in Sustainable Forestry Strategies in the U.S., please take a look at the slides and recording here, and let us know what you think! It’s not too late to register to join other IEN members at next week’s Impact Summit America - including a special workshop for trustees.

And now that it’s November and we are all starting to make our plans for 2020, it is a great time to think about how participating in the 2020 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit could advance your organizational and personal goals. We are adding more participants, speakers, and agenda details (including pre-Summit workshops and tours) regularly now and over the next few weeks - and still have space to add sponsors and a few session topics to make this the most impactful Summit possible!


New IEN Members

Opportunities for Action

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

Invest Your Values | As You Sow

  • As You Sow has just released a major upgrade to its suite of Invest Your Values tools with a first-of-its-kind mutual fund and ETF sustainability report card, which grades investments on six environmental and social issues: Gender Equality, Fossil Fuels, Deforestation, Tobacco, and Weapons. The updated suite of tools are also cross-referenced to help investors and financial professionals find mutual funds and ETFs that align with their values. A new feature also enables you to sort by financial performance, a specific issue area, and filter for diversified, SRI, and US SIF membership!

Fiduciary Duty in the 21st Century | PRI, Generation Foundation, UNEP Finance Initiative

  • The final installment of the four-year Fiduciary Duty in the 21st Century programme affirms that fiduciary duty requires the incorporation of ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes. The final report discusses The origins of fiduciary duty, The new policy context, and Modern fiduciary duty.

Divest Invest Philanthropy: Five Years After Launch | Croatan Institute

  • 2019 marks the five-year anniversary of Divest Invest Philanthropy, providing a timely opportunity to take stock of the movement’s progress among foundations. Nearly 200 foundations from all over the world have committed to moving their money from the past to the future. This report tracks their progress, showcases leading examples through case studies, and invites other foundations to come along.

Sustainable Investing By Institutional Asset Owners

(Listen) Faith-based Institutions Answer The Call for Impact Investing | Impact Alpha

  • On ImpactAlpha’s podcast, Catholic, Jewish and Muslim institutions found common ground in using capital to usher in a fairer economy and nurture a healthier natural environment.

Thai Government Pension Fund to Apply ESG Screening | Pensions & Investments

  • Thailand’s $31.7 billion Government Pension Fund (GPF) will introduce its own environmental, societal and governance scoring tool for local stocks and bonds by Dec. 31, and begin screening all fund investments using that “ESG lens” in the new year, a senior GPF executive said.

Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

The Green Short: Funds Target Laggards in Sustainable Shift | Bloomberg

  • A new breed of environmentally conscious investor is starting to bet against losers in the race to save the planet. From boutique money managers to French behemoth BNP Paribas SA, financial firms are setting up sustainability-focused mutual funds that mimic hedge-fund tactics. In an unusual move, they’re not only buying stakes in the companies favored by green investors, but also shorting firms that are failing to make the shift to sustainability.

Why ESG Investing Is a Fiduciary Duty of Asset Managers | The Asset ESG Forum

  • Major asset owners and leading asset managers are coming out strongly in favor of ESG being part of an asset manager’s fiduciary duty.

Wanted: Private Equity Firms Seek ESG Professionals in a Push to Address Investor Demand | Karma

  • Private equity firms, responding to surging demand for ethical investing opportunities, plan on hiring more professionals focused on ESG principles, a survey has found.

Fire Managers Who Ignore Climate Change, Says UK Pension Regulator | Chief Investment Officer

  • Guy Opperman, the UK minister for pensions and financial inclusion, insists plan trustees must ensure that investment managers employ ESG tenets.

Do-Gooder Funds Keep Getting Bigger — and Their Investors Are Doing Well Too | Barron’s

  • Net flows into all sustainable funds reached $13.5 billion through the first nine months of 2019, according to a report published by Morningstar. More than $4 billion flowed into the funds every quarter, and they are on track to take in triple their 2018 total of $5.5 billion. This article summarizes the recent trends.

Power and Privilege: Why Foundations Have Not Acted on Climate Change | Forbes

  • This article examines the factors that explain the slow pace of action by foundations to address climate change through endowment investing.

Lawmaker Wants Socially Responsible Investment Option for State’s College Savings Program | Maryland Matters

  • A state lawmaker wants Maryland’s college savings plan to offer its investors an option to invest in socially responsible funds. Del. Lorig Charkoudian (D-Montgomery) wrote to state Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp (D), who chairs the board that oversees the so-called 529 fund, urging the college savings plan to include “investment options that integrate social, environmental and corporate governance criteria into the investment decision-making criteria, alongside rigorous financial analysis.”

Using Measurement to Manage Impact | Stanford Social Innovation Review

  • This article explores how investors can generate deeper insights into social and environmental impact while bringing concrete business benefits to investees.

WorldPensionSummit Speakers Map Out Ways to Bolster Sustainable Investing | Pensions & Investments

  • European pension fund executives say they are less concerned about the prospect of another global recession and more focused on identifying companies that have sustainable business models to secure positive returns. Noting the decreased "firepower" of central banks globally, European investment officers who attended the WorldPensionSummit said companies could be facing challenges as a result of the global economic slowdown.

Shareholder Engagement

U.S. SEC Proposes Rules that Could Limit Shareholder Voices | Reuters

  • Wall Street’s top regulator proposed a pair of long-awaited rules that would set new limits on shareholders’ ability to call for corporate changes on thorny issues like climate change disclosures and executive compensation. Read additional coverage from ThinkAdvisor.

Proposed SEC Rules to Restrict Proxy Access Break Faith with Investors | ICCR

  • The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) reacts to this week’s 3-2, party-line vote by the SEC regarding proposed changes to its shareholder proposal rule that would severely restrict investors’ access to the corporate proxy prompted a fierce rebuke from the investment community, the very constituency the SEC is designed to protect. ICCR members say the new rules would stifle the voice of shareholders by substantially increasing the number of shares required to file proposals that appear on company proxies; doubling the thresholds necessary for the re-submission of those proposals in subsequent years; and restricting access to independent proxy advice.  

How the SEC Is Making Life Easier for Corporate America | Reuters

  • Under the Trump administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken more than two dozen measures - including trimming rules - that make life easier for corporate America, according to a Reuters analysis of SEC announcements and interviews with more than a dozen lawyers, academics and advocacy groups.

Proxy Advisory Firm Sues SEC Over New Rules | Wall Street Journal

  • Institutional Shareholder Services says guidelines that require firms to explain advice are an abuse of the agency’s power.

The Companies That Invest in the Earth's Destruction Must Be Held Accountable | Vice

  • Protests against BlackRock and a Senate hearing on dark money are part of a growing push to hold the big funders of the climate crisis responsible.

U.S. Managers Supporting, But Not Voting for, Climate Disclosure | Pensions & Investments

  • U.S. money managers are committed to dealing with climate change but are reluctant to challenge companies and are even blocking votes, according to analysis by ShareAction, a responsible investment campaign group that found European asset managers to be most likely to support climate resolutions.

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 potential impact of SEC changes on shareholder engagement rules, climate risks in muni bonds, a UK fracking ban, the greenest US cities, and more.

Community Impact Investing

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Ken Fisher Episode Leads to Call for Widespread Change | Financial Advisor IQ

  • Many industry observers believe Ken Fisher’s reportedly distasteful comments at an industry conference last month shone a harsh spotlight on the toxic side of wealth management — despite industry claims of working on improving diversity and inclusion.

Student Managed Funds & Sustainable Finance Curriculum

Student Investing Group Receives $100,000 of Duke's Money to Make an Impact | Duke Chronicle

  • The Duke Impact Investing Group (DIIG) recently secured $100,000 to invest in impact-oriented businesses from University administration after President Vincent Price took a recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Investment Responsibility. The goal of impact investing is to generate a social and environmental impact in addition to financial returns.

Finance Expert Ken Kroner Gives UC San Diego $1M to Align Academic Research with Financial Decision Making | UC San Diego

  • How will diversity and inclusion affect a company’s performance? Should investments in global warming and renewable energy funds be ramped up for pension funds? For the first time at the University of California San Diego, academia will collaborate with the asset management industry to find answers to these and other financial questions. The Kroner Family Foundation, directed by UC San Diego alumnus Ken Kroner and his wife, Jennifer, has launched the Pacific Center for Asset Management with a $1 million lead gift to provide unbiased, in-depth research to assist in financial decision making.

Business School Students Are Putting the Planet Before Profits | Bloomberg

  • MBA programs are grappling with how to teach students about climate change.

Investment Firm News

OpenInvest And Legal & General Investment Management America Now Offer Asset Owners Customizable ESG Investment Portfolios | PR Newswire

  • OpenInvest and Legal & General Investment Management America are working together to deliver index solutions that allow clients to target their desired financial objectives while incorporating ESG criteria on a fully customized basis.

Fidelity Ponders Compensation After ESG Glitch | FT Adviser

  • Advisers who used Fidelity’s intermediary platform to filter ethical funds for their clients could have been misled by a botched sorting system, it has emerged. A data error in the filtering system, which is sourced from a third party, caused the platform to brand 49 of Fidelity’s own funds as ‘sustainable and responsible investing’ when only one of the funds picked up in the list, the FT Sustainable Water and Waste fund, actually fell under this category.

Economic & Policy Shifts

The Paris Climate Agreement Is at Risk of Falling Apart in the 2020s | Vox

  • This article explores the risks facing international climate agreements over the coming decade.

The F-Word Finally Enters Climate Politics | Scientific American

  • In CNN’s recent climate crisis town hall, fossil fuels—and the industry that produces them—were mentioned 153 times. This emerging focus on the supply of fossil fuels—compared to the usual fixation on consumer demand and greenhouse gas emissions—goes beyond debate rhetoric. Most candidates have now put forward climate plans that include a multitude of supply-focused policies.

Climate Risk, Science, and Clean Energy

Climate Change: ‘Clear and Unequivocal’ Emergency, Say Scientists | BBC

  • A global group of around 11,000 scientists have endorsed research that says the world is facing a climate emergency. The study, based on 40 years of data on a range of measures, says governments are failing to address the crisis. Without deep and lasting changes, the world is facing "untold human suffering" the study says. The researchers say they have a moral obligation to warn of the scale of the threat.

Google Workers Double Down on Climate Demands in New Letter | The Verge

  • Google workers are again calling on the company to cut all of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. In a letter sent to chief financial officer Ruth Porat today, the employees also ask Google to end contracts with fossil fuel companies and eliminate funding for think tanks, politicians, or lobbyists that impede action on climate change. They’re doubling down on demands that were made across the tech sector in September when employees at Google, Amazon, and Microsoft joined the Global Climate Strike.

More airports consider going off the grid as power outages ground flights | CNBC

  • Power outages have disrupted operations at several of the nation’s airports. To provide a more reliable source of power, or a better backup system, airports are turning to new power sources. Pittsburgh International Airport plans to become the first major U.S. airport to create a self-sufficient energy system, or microgrid. It will use solar and natural gas sources from its own property.

Exxon Mobil Earnings Drop 49% in the Third Quarter on Lower Oil Prices | CNBC 

What to Know Before Buying Shares in Saudi Arabia’s Oil Company | New York Times

  • This opinion piece argues that the Saudi monarchy is pursuing its own interests, not those of the company, and that is where problems will arise for investors.

Wear Clothes? Then You’re Part of the Problem | New York Times

  • The clothing and footwear industry is responsible for 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, nearly the same as the entire European Union, according to a study by the environmental services group Quantis. Without abrupt intervention, the industry’s impact on the climate is on track to increase by almost half by 2030.

General Higher Education Endowment News

Top 20 Endowment and Foundation CIOs | Chief Investment Officer

  • Mined from its Power 100 list, this list ranks the top endowment and foundation chief investment officers, factored from an equation that considers industry influence, innovation, collaboration, talent development, fund size, and time spent as allocators.

Seeing Double: Amherst’s $2.4 Billion Question | The Amherst Student

  • In 1998, Amherst’s endowment stood at $528 million. In the following decade, the college doubled this hardly insubstantial sum, expanding the endowment to about $1.3 billion by 2009, according to the Amherst Financial Report. Over the past 10 years, that growth has continued. Last year, the college announced a 10.1 percent return on the endowment, placing it at a total of nearly $2.4 billion, a sum larger than the GDPs of 25 countries, according to the World Bank.

IIT Delhi Launches Global Alumni Endowment Fund, Targets $1 billion Over 7 Years | Economic Times

  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi has formally launched its global alumni endowment fund with an initial commitment of Rs 250 crore by over 10 founder alumni. The institute aims to achieve a target corpus of $1 billion over a period of 7 years for the newly launched fund that will work towards the development of the institute, encourage innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.

State Legislature Approves Higher Ed Endowment Matching Funds, Providing Important Fund-Raising Assistance for UMass Amherst | UMass

  • A state matching funds program that serves as an incentive for public universities to raise funds from private sources has been adopted by the House of Representatives and the Senate in a supplementary budget. Under the program, the University of Massachusetts system will receive $10 million in matching funds, which can be paired with private donations.

General Higher Education Sustainability News

Georgia State University Joins Project To Address Statewide Climate Impacts | Georgia State University

  • Georgia State University has joined the Georgia Climate Project (GCP), a statewide consortium working to improve understanding of climate impacts and solutions in Georgia. The GCP includes colleges and universities across the state who are bringing their strengths in research and teaching to improve understanding of the physical, economic and social impacts of climate change in Georgia, and the choices the state has for the future. Don’t forget that the 2020 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit - including a dedicated Endowment Investing Forum -  is taking place in Atlanta!

Vassar Trustees Endorse $13 million Plan to Move College toward Carbon Neutrality | Vassar

  • At a meeting in October, the board declared its support for a $13-million package of major renovations and upgrades to the college’s heating system and other energy-saving projects. The improvements will be funded through bond financing, which is expected to be approved in February.

Fossil Fuel Divestment

Green Coalition: Pension Plans Miss Billions by Not Divesting from Fossil Fuels | Chief Investment Officer

  • Environmental groups say CalPERS, CalSTRS, and Colorado PERA missed $19 billion by keeping fossil fuel stocks in their portfolios.

The Greta Thunberg Generation Pushes Harvard to Deal with Climate Crisis | Boston Globe

  • This week marks the start of a campaign to elect a slate of dissident members to the Harvard’s Board of Overseers, all of them young and all of them committed to change. Beyond their Harvard pedigrees, what they have in common is, as the group’s manifesto puts it, a commitment to “complete and swift divestment of all university assets from fossil fuels.” Read more in depth coverage in the Harvard Magazine.

Creighton Students Vote in Favor of Divesting University Funds from Fossil Fuel Industry | Omaha World-Herald

  • Creighton University students voted overwhelmingly in favor of divesting university funds from the fossil fuel industry. The students said through their referendum that Creighton should freeze any new investments in fossil fuels and should divest the 2% of its endowment that is invested in the top 200 carbon-emitting fossil fuel companies, by 2025. Creighton’s endowment was about $570 million as of mid-2018.

Duke, This Moment Calls for Courage | The Chronicle

  • In this opinion piece, a student columnist argues for fossil fuel divestment.

It’s Wellesley’s Turn to Divest from Fossil Fuels | THe Wellesley News

  • In this opinion piece, the Renew Wellesley group calls for Wellesley to follow recent divestment announcements from Smith College and the University of California with its own divestment from fossil fuels by the school’s $2.2 billion endowment.

Panelists Discuss Princeton Divestment from Fossil Fuel Industry at PEI Forum | Daily Princetonian

  • Several prominent panelists discussed whether the University should divest from the fossil fuels industry during the Princeton Environmental Forum. In honor of its 25th anniversary, the Princeton Environmental Institute organized a two-day conference, which featured panel discussions surrounding the many facets of the climate crisis and its potential solutions.

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:

Sustainability as a Social Justice Practice: Developing Resilient Strategies | Dallas County Community College District, today, November 8, 2019, Mesquite, TX

Everyone Should Get it — ESG | Pathstone, November 12, 2019, Boston, MA. Contact Events@Pathstone.com to request an invitation.

Racial Justice & Climate Change: The Industrial Agriculture Connection | RISE, November 12, 2019, 4-5:30pm PT (webinar) 

The Business Case for Water-Smart Boards: Lessons learned from State Street Global Advisors and Danone North America | Ceres, November 12, 2019, 11am-12pm EST (webinar) 

Investing Locally for a Global Impact: How CDFIs Are Addressing the Climate Crisis | CNote, November 13, 2019, 2:00pm EST (webinar)

Census2020: Why and How It Matters for Impact Investing | Mission Investors Exchange, November 12, 2019, 3-4:30 EST (webinar)

Including People with Disabilities in Nonprofits and Foundations: Accessibility & Equity Webinar Series | RespectAbility, November 13, November 20, December 4, December 11, January 7, January 9, January 15, all 1:30pm ET (webinars)

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

2nd Impact Summit America | Phenix Capital, November 14, 2019, New York, NY. Asset owner IEN members are eligible for complementary registration.

Agrifood Conversations | iSelect Fund, November 14, 2019, 3pm CT (webinar)

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

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:

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