Weekly News Round-Up: December 21st, 2018


Weekly News Round-Up: December 21st, 2018

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

Don't forget to register for the Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit, taking February 10-12, 2019 in Tempe, AZ.

IEN will be closed next week for the holidays, and we look forward to connecting in the new year.

Have a great weekend, and Happy Holidays!


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

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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). Deadline for sign-on has been extended to January 18, 2019. More information is available on the FAIRR website here.

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

PRI invites investors to sign on to a statement committing to support a just transition on climate change. Investors can make an important contribution as stewards of assets, allocators of capital and as influential voices in public policy to make sure that the transition produces inclusive and sustainable development.


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

Sustainable Investing by Institutional Asset Owners

Most Canadian Institutional Investors Engaging in ESG Issues: Survey l Benefits Canada

  • The vast majority (91 percent) of Canadian institutional investors have adjusted their voting and engagement policies to focus more on environmental, social and governance risks, according to a report by marketing agency Edelman. The report, which surveyed 500 Canadian institutional investors, found 65 percent have made policy adjustments within the past year. 
New Reports

Legal Risks to Investors From Forest Crime l Climate Advisers

  • This report discusses deforestation as not only a global environmental problem that requires strong action. It is also a risky activity to support financially. This is true across all categories of asset owners and managers in the United States and globally. Investors may not realize that they are supporting deforestation. Despite recent progress, a continued lack of transparency in sectors most at risk of illegal forest clearing, such as cattle, oil palm, soy, and timber, means that investors may not know the extent of their exposure to material financial risks from deforestation through companies they invest in. This does not inoculate them, however, from the financial impacts they incur when these material risks are realized. Investors should, therefore, take these risks seriously.
  • The private sector is already experiencing the impacts of climate change, from increased operational costs to disrupted production. Investors are increasingly asking companies to disclose these risks as the physical consequences of climate change become financially material. In reviewing more than 1,600 corporate adaptation strategies, we find significant blind spots in companies’ assessments of climate change impacts and in their development of strategies for managing them. Adaptation approaches that consider broader climate change risks to supply chains, customers, and employees, and that integrate ecosystem-based strategies could limit the ‘tragedy of the horizon’ characterized by inadequate and too-late action.
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Investors Managing $32 Trillion in Assets Call for Action on Climate Change l Reuters

  • Global investors managing $32 trillion in assets have called on governments to accelerate steps to combat climate change, as policymakers meet for talks at a United Nations conference in Poland. A total of 415 investors from across the world including UBS Asset Management and Aberdeen Standard Investments signed the 2018 Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change demanding urgent action.

G20 Investor Forum: Buenos Aires Call to Action l Forbes

  • The G20 Investor Forum was hosted by the World Bank and the Government of Argentina just before the start of the G20 Summit. For the first time ever, senior executives from the investment community in the private sector, holding over $20 trillion in assets under management, and senior officials from the public sector, gathered to discuss how to better collaborate to ensure the capital markets earn the necessary long-term returns for their beneficiaries in a way that supports sustainable development. Comments from the investment community made it clear that they would appreciate more dialogue with high-level policymakers in the public sector.

Bloomberg Announces U.S. Alliance for Sustainable Finance (USASF) l Bloomberg

  • During the inaugural Sustainable Finance Week in New York, Bloomberg announced the formation of the U.S. Alliance for Sustainable Finance (USASF), convening 15 founding members to drive investment in clean energy and climate resilience projects across the U.S. The alliance will provide the resources and expertise to identify and streamline existing climate-finance initiatives, encourage greater transparency across climate-related financial risks and opportunities, and ultimately, drive more capital to sustainable investments.

How Socially Responsible Investing Lost Its Soul l Bloomberg

  • This article explores how many ESG funds that promise to align your money with your values are often more marketing than science.

Investment as a Force Against Climate Change l Investor Daily

  • ESG considerations are very much part of our investment landscape now – and investment managers and superannuation funds are feeling the weight of community expectation that they act as leaders rather than reluctant followers in the fight to cool our planet and improve social outcomes.

ESG Investing Outlook for 2019 l 3BL

  • This article by Katherine Collins, Head of Sustainable Investing at Putnam Investments explores ESG  investing & systems thinking.

Pension Funds Criticise Asset Managers Over Lax ESG Approach l LGC 

  • Local authority pension funds are reporting problems over their asset managers’ approach to ESG factors. The survey of Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) members, which comprise most of the sector, showed they were unlikely to recommend their asset managers based on the way ESG matters are handled.

Almost Everything You Know About Impact Investing Is Wrong l Stanford Social Innovation Review

  • This article explores the growing confusion about impact investing's key principles and practices has it headed for a fall.

Matt Damon's Water Charity Takes Impact Investing Plunge l Forbes

  • Water.org, the nonprofit resulting from the 2009 merger of Matt Damon’s H2O Africa and Gary White’s WaterPartners, has completed an $11 million impact investing pilot project and has already closed on $33 million in a new fund that they hope will reach $50 million. The transition from an entirely philanthropic approach built around drilling wells and building toilets to an investment model is motivated by a desire to reach more people, White, 55, the CEO says. “Frustration with the pace of our impact led me to try something entirely new.”
Shareholder Engagement

Proxy Preview 2019Governance Trends Go Global l IR Magazine

  • With the 2018 annual meeting season behind us, IR Magazine explores the trends across regions and looks ahead to next year’s talking points.

Shell Changes Stance on Carbon as Investors Push for Disclosures l Bloomberg

  • Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s decision to give more details on its emission-reduction plans sheds light on private discussions between the oil major and its shareholders, which led to a change in stance following years of resistance. The capitulation will see the Anglo-Dutch company set carbon-output targets annually for the following three or five years as it works to halve its “net carbon footprint” by 2050. The goals will be tied to executive pay.

McDonald’s Moves on From Routine Antibiotic Use in Beef l Green Century Funds

  • McDonald’s made its meals happier this week by announcing the formal adoption of a policy to restrict medically important antibiotic use in its beef supply chain. McDonald’s will begin by monitoring antibiotic use in its top ten beef sourcing markets across the globe and use that data to set reduction targets for reducing on-farm medically important antibiotic use by the end of 2020. This is big news. McDonald’s is the largest purchaser of beef in the world, so this commitment could have ramifications across the restaurant and beef production industries.
Investment Firm News

Clean Impact Rankings Announces the Top Five Low Carbon Mutual Funds Investing in Climate Solutions l My Social Good News

  • Clean Impact Rankings, an initiative to assess investment vehicles based on carbon savings, announced the results of its first mutual fund assessment. Capital allocated to the top five funds is projected to have up to 50 times more positive carbon impact—carbon savings delivered by climate solutions—than peers. To understand how funds with low carbon risk can also drive carbon savings, Clean Impact Rankings looked at nearly 90 Morningstar® Medalists with the Morningstar Low Carbon Designation™ across six diversified equity categories.
Climate Risk, Science, and Regulation
  • This article explores the campaigns by Marathon, the country’s largest oil refiner, and others, involved in backing the Trump administration's proposal to roll back car efficiency standards.

Everything You Need to Know About the New UN Climate Agreement l CTV News

  • On Saturday, officials from nearly 200 countries agreed to a set of guidelines to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change at the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland. This article describes what you need to know about the agreement, which is being called the Katowice Climate Package.
General Higher Education Endowment News

2018 HEPI Report Released l CommonFund

  • Data from the annual Commonfund Higher Education Price Index (HEPI) show that inflation for U.S. colleges and universities rose 2.8 percent in fiscal year 2018, a decline from last fiscal year’s 3.31 percent rate but higher than the average of 2.4 percent for the preceding five fiscal years. Of the past 10 years, FY2018 HEPI was the third highest rate of inflation, trailing only FY2017 and FY2014. (the Fiscal year 2018 covers the period from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018, and coincides with the budget year of most institutions of higher education.)

Harvard's $39B Endowment Is Reportedly Buying Up California's Vineyards—and Their Water Rights l Fortune

  • Harvard University’s endowment is reportedly buying up vineyards in California’s wine country, along with the water rights belonging to those properties. Instead of making the land purchases in its own name, Harvard is using a wholly owned subsidiary—named Brodiaea after the scientific name for the cluster lily—to buy vineyards. Harvard created Brodiaea in 2012, and by 2015 the unit had already purchased 10,000 acres in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties for about $60 million, according to an earlier report by Reuters.

The Worst-Performing Endowments Have These Things in Common l Institutional Investor

  • Endowments and foundations have underperformed broader markets since the financial crisis, lagging behind a simple 60-40 portfolio of stocks and bonds. The worst-performing non-profits, however, were large university endowments, according to a paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Between 2009 and 2016, college and university endowments underperformed market benchmarks by more than twice as much as other non-profit endowment funds, such as charitable foundations, according to the paper by Georgetown University’s Sandeep Dahiya and New York University professor David Yermack.

Spelman Receives One of the Largest Single Donations to an HBCU in History l The Root

  • Thanks to a massive $30 million donation from a trustee, Spelman just recorded its largest single gift from a living donor. The donation—among the highest given to any historically black college or university—will go toward the private women’s college’s new Center for Innovation and the Arts.The donation was made by Ronda Stryker and her husband, William Johnston. Stryker, a Spelman trustee for more than 10 years, heads the Stryker Corp., a Fortune 500 company specializing in medical technologies. Her husband is the chairman of investing banking firm Greenleaf Trust.
Fossil Fuel Divestment

At Last, Divestment is Hitting the Fossil Fuel Industry Where it Hurts l The Guardian

  • In this article, Bill McKibben discusses the 1,000th institution to divest from fossil fuels, Shell's announcement earlier this year that divestment should be considered a “material risk” to its business, and a call to action for the public and private sector.

Exxon Lawsuit is a Wake-Up Call N.Y. State Pension Fund (Opinion) l Poughkeepsie

  • New York state is suing Exxon-Mobil for fraudulently misleading investors about climate change. Records show that Exxon knew decades ago that climate change would negatively impact its business and did not disclose it. This resulted in an over-valuing of the company, which has hurt its investors. The New York State Common Pension Fund is one of those investors, to the tune of $1 billion.

Seattle University Divested From Fossil Fuel Companies — So Why Didn't Gonzaga? (Opinion) l Inlander

  • This article discsses how just three months ago, Seattle University made a commitment to divest its endowment of fossil fuels by 2023. Though students had been asking for such a commitment for years, it was in many ways a bold move: Seattle U became the first university in the state — and the first of 28 Jesuit universities in the country — to do so.
Calendar of Upcoming Events
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

9th Annual Practitioners Gathering - Truth and Transparency l Confluence Philanthropy, March 4-7, 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

Total Impact Philadelphia 2018 l Total Impact, April 26-27, 2018, Philadelphia, PA 




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