Weekly News Round-Up: January 12th, 2018

 
Weekly News Round-Up: January 12th, 2018

Below find this week's news round-up.

Be sure to check out the stories highlighting the New York City Mayor's announcement this week that city pension funds have set a goal to divest about $5 billion from companies involved in the fossil fuel business, as well as the Mayor's announcement of a lawsuit against five major oil companies, seeking to collect billions of dollars in damages to pay for city efforts to cope with the effects of climate change.

Please note, with our new format for the round-up, we have moved the "Upcoming Events" section to the bottom of the email.

Be sure to register for our webinar on The Investor Case for Human Rights on January 24th, and if you haven't already, don't forget to register for the 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit, Feb. 4-6 in Tempe, AZ! 

Have a great weekend,

Nicole

Program Manager
The Intentional Endowments Network

 
IEN in the News

Executive Perspective: Educational Endowments and Sustainable Investing l Thomson Reuters Blog

The US SIF Foundation identified more than 80 educational institutions at the start of 2016 that were applying various ESG criteria to assets that collectively totaled $293 billion. In this article, Lisa Woll of US SIF describes some of the challenges and barriers endowments may face when approaching sustainable investing and highlights some examples of leaders in the space, including IEN and several member schools.

 
Sustainable Investing at Endowments and Foundations

Mission, Money and Markets: SIP Team Reflects on Favorite Deals of 2017 l Kresge Foundation

  • As 2017 comes to an end, the Social Investment Practice team members at the Kresge Foundation look back at what deals or impact investment advancements they saw launch into the market – both from Kresge and in the field beyond – that had them excited about seeing capital deployed in new, innovative ways toward social issues from the environment to neighborhood revitalization.

Episcopal Pension Invests in Socially Responsible Fund l Chief Investment Officer

  • The $13 billion Church Pension Fund (CPF), a financial services organization that serves the Episcopal Church, has invested $17 million in the Social Investment Managers & Advisors (SIMA) Off-Grid Solar and Financial Access Senior Debt Fund I. The $75 million fund will provide loans to microfinance institutions, distribution companies, and manufacturers in the off-grid solar sector located in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in South Asia.
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Blomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance

  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how New York City's pension funds are to announce plans to divest fossil fuels; a segment with TIAA-CREF's Stephen Liberatore on defining impact in municipal bonds; and how companies are starting to backpedal on virtual meetings.

Number of Institutional Investors Using ESG Factors in Decisions Holds Steady l Plan Adviser

  • Adoption rates of ESG factors into the investment decision-making process among institutional investors has leveled off, according to the Callan 2017 ESG survey. 

This New Blockchain Protocol Wants To Create Accountability For Social Impact l Fast Company

  • The Ixo Foundation’s “proof of impact” protocol wants to give investors knowledge that their money is working–and save organizations time and money in evaluating if their programs are working.

Apple Urged to Curb Smartphone Addiction by Jana Partners and CalSTRS l The Street

  • Jana Partners, Barry Rosenstein, and public pension fund California State Teachers' Retirement System, which together own $2 billion of Apple Inc. stock, launched a new kind of activist campaign over the weekend, urging the iPhone maker to take action to curb growing smartphone and iPad addiction among children.

What's The Value Where ESG Meets Emerging Markets? l Forbes

  • In this Q&A, Liz Su, a member of the Emerging Markets Portfolio Construction team at Boston Common Asset Management, discusses the significance of ESG factors in emerging markets.

MSCI Links ESG With Stronger Asset Growth l Pensions & Investments

 
New Reports

Mainstream Investors Using Vote to Address Climate Risks l ISS

  • In an effort to move the needle on portfolio company recognition of material risks related to climate change, investors increasingly rely on proxy votes as a means of conveying their message. In the U.S., resolutions filed, withdrawn and voted have nearly doubled over the past decade, and an ISS-Ethix Climate Solutions analysis finds proponents are targeting their filings judiciously. During the period examined, the three companies with the highest number of resolutions are among the top 10 percent of carbon emitters within the study group.
 
Sign-On Opportunities
  • The Bangladesh investor statement encouraged the Accord to extend its work beyond the May 2018 endpoint, and the Accord has finalized an agreement to extend for another 3 years.  However, to date only  53 of the 220 original signatories have signed on to the new agreement. If more of the original company signatories do not sign, the Accord’s leverage, scope and impact will be severely weakened. The primary purpose of this statement is to urge the 167 companies that have yet to sign on to do so. The deadline for signatories is Monday, January 22, 2018.
 
Investment Manager News

UBS AM Launches Gender Equality Ucits ETF l City Wire

  • UBS has bolstered its ETF offering with the launch of a gender equality-focused fund, the company has announced. The ETF will invest in the Solactive Equileap Global Gender Equality 100 Leaders index. The index tracks 100 leading global companies with a strong record in gender diversity and sustainability.

Breckinridge and Climate Central Develop Flood Risk Indicator l Breckinridge

  • Breckinridge Capital Advisors announced this week a new indicator that measures flood risk for coastal municipalities. Developed specifically for Breckinridge by Climate Central, this new quantitative, comparative tool will help Breckinridge analysts assess coastal flood risk within its existing ESG research frameworks. At a time when rating agencies are beginning to announce how they incorporate climate change risks into their analysis, Breckinridge continues to seek new ways to improve existing methodologies for evaluating these risks.

Liontrust to Shift Focus to Ethical Funds l FT Adviser

  • Liontrust Asset Management said it intends to focus more resource on growing the sustainable investment side of its business. The sustainable investment products were acquired from Alliance Trust on 1 April 2017.

BlackRock Recruits Sustainable Investing CIO l Pensions & Investments

  • Tariq Fancy was named chief investment officer of BlackRock's sustainable investing group, said an internal memo to staff obtained by Pensions & Investments.
 
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation

What Climate Scientists Are Learning From Indigenous Peoples l Yale Climate Connections

  • In this Q&A, Chicago Review of Books' Amy Brady interviews Gleb Raygorodetsky, the far-roaming conservation biologist.

Why Voluntary Climate Risk Disclosure is Going Mainstream l GreenBiz

  • The G20's Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), a global push by investors and companies to include information about these exposures in mainstream reports to regulators, is helping companies make that transition on a five-year implementation timeline.

New York Sues Fossil Fuel Majors, Plans Divestment From Pension Funds l Yahoo Finance

  • New York City on Wednesday filed a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against five top fossil fuel companies, citing their "contributions to global warming," as it unveiled a plan to cut fossil fuel investments from its $189 billion public pension funds over the next five years. The companies are BP Plc, Chevron Corp, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell Plc. New York's goal of eliminating about $5 billion in securities of nearly 200 oil companies, would be among the biggest public pension divestments from fossil fuels to date, the city said in a statement.
 

 

General Endowment News

University of Virginia Endowment Names Interim CEO, CIO l Pensions & Investments

  • Kristina Alimard was named interim CEO of University of Virginia Investment Management Co., and Sargent McGowan was named interim CIO, endowment spokeswoman Sonia Speh confirmed in an interview. UVMCO named the interim officers in the wake of the Dec. 31 departure of Lawrence Kochard, chief investment officer and CEO.

Mercer Offers Focus Tips for E&F Investment Committees l Plan Sponsor

  • As the new year settles in, Mercer has released 10 key tips for endowment and foundation (E&F) investment committees, from how to revisit ESG investing to reframing the tone behind active and passive investing.
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment

NYC Sues, Divests From Oil Firms Over Climate Change l ABC News

  • New York City is taking on the oil industry on two fronts, announcing a lawsuit Wednesday that blames the top five oil companies for contributing to global warming and saying the city will sell off billions in fossil fuel investments from the city's pension funds.

New York City Just Declared War on the Oil Industry (Opinion) l The Guardian

  • In this opinion piece about New York City's decision to divest Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, outlines why this news is significant and what it means for the fossil fuel divestment movement.

Divestment From Fossil Fuels Debated For State Pension Fund l Times Union

  • State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli cautioned again this week that the financial interests of the state pension fund must be weighed when considering divestment from fossil fuels. DiNapoli's comments follow Gov. Andrew Cuomo's suggestion in his State of the State last week that he and DiNapoli work together to divest the $192.4 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund from fossil fuels.

'A Really Big Deal': New York City's Fossil Fuel Divestment Could Spur Global Shift l The Guardian

  • Economists said the status of New York as a financial and cultural giant would probably spur other cities in the US and worldwide to divest and, more significantly, build momentum in the global shift required to reduce emissions and stave off the worst consequences of climate change.
 
Calendar of Upcoming Events
IEN Session + Workshop at the 2018 Foundation Leadership Forum l AGB, January 21-23, 2018, Los Angeles, CA
  • IEN Principal, Tony Cortese will be leading sessions examining mission-aligned investing, and a post-conference peer learning workshop going deeper into all aspects of aligning ESG goals to the foundation’s mission while meeting the financial and advancement requirements of each institution.

Webinar: The Investor Case for Human Rights | Intentional Endowments Network, January 24th, 2018, 1:00 p.m. ET

  • Participants will hear from leaders at ICCR about the potential for investor work on human rights, where investors can have impact and where they have had success in the past, and discuss next steps for those interested in engaging more deeply on this work. 

Webinar: Investors Creating Real Impact l Real Impact Tracker, January 24th, 2018, 11:00 a.m. ET

  • In this webinar Real Impact Tracker will launch its Certified Real Impact Community, whose certified managers are already achieving social and environmental impact alongside financial returns.
Winter Innovation Summit l Sorenson Impact, January 24-26, 2018, Salt Lake City, UT
  • This year’s Summit will bring together policymakers, funders, nonprofits, and social entrepreneurs to explore the future of social innovation across the globe. 
2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit l Second Nature & The Intentional Endowments Network, February 4-6, 2018, Phoenix, AZ
  • Second Nature and the Intentional Endowments Network are pleased to host the 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit. Join your peers from February 4-6, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona for the largest national gathering of higher education presidents, chancellors, trustees, and other senior leaders committed to accelerating climate solutions. 

Roadmap to Measuring the Effectiveness of System-Level Investing Approaches l The Investment Integration Project (TIIP) & Morningstar, February 8, 2018, Chicago, IL

  • This event will serve to launch TIIP's new joint report on the Roadmap to Measuring the Effectiveness of System-Level Investing Approaches, written by William Burckart, Steve Lydenberg, and Jessica Ziegler of TIIP. 

8th Annual Practitioners Gathering l Confluence Philanthropy, March 12-15, 2018, Berkeley, CA

  • The Practitioners Gathering is a four-day conference where asset owners and their advisors meet at the cutting edge of mission-related investing
Responsible Investment Forum New York l Private Equity International, March 20-21, 2018, New York, NY
  • The Responsible Investment Forum will bring together the most sophisticated LPs, GPs and service providers to discuss why, when, and how your firm should be implementing an effective ESG strategy. IEN's Kristian Nammack will be presenting.