Weekly News Round-Up: January 26th, 2018

 
Weekly News Round-Up: January 26th, 2018

Below please find this week's news round-up.

We are pleased to welcome four new members to the Network this week: iSelect Fund Management, Flat World Partners, Clean Energy Venture Group, and Fossil Free Indexes. For more information on the leadership opportunities and benefits of IEN Membership, click here.

We're looking forward to seeing many of you from February 4-6 in Tempe, AZ for the 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit! If you haven't already, there's still time to register.

Have a great weekend,

Nicole

Program Manager
The Intentional Endowments Network

 
New IEN Members
 
New Reports & Resources

Participate in GIIN's Annual Impact Investor Survey l The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN)

  • The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) is now inviting participants to contribute to its 8th Annual Impact Investor Survey. The report generated by this survey provides critical data to help grow and strengthen the impact investing market. If your organization makes investments with the intention to generate positive social or environmental impact alongside a financial return, please consider contributing to this important and widely cited resource. For more information, contact Rachel Bass, GIIN Research Senior Associate, at rbass@thegiin.org.

Racial Justice Investing Launches Online Group

  • In December 2017, a coalition called Racial Justice Investing launched an online presence with a newsletter for the impact investing community. Racial Justice Investing is a group of socially responsible investors and others in the business community who are taking action for racial justice within their own organizations, as well as in engagements with portfolio companies. Among other aims, the group's purpose is to identify the role of socially responsible investors in working for racial justice, and holding companies accountable for how their policies and practices impact people of color. They are seeking to work in alignment with racial justice organizers, while centering the expertise of people of color. To join and receive updates, contact hlucal@openmic.org. 

The Global Risks Report 2018 l World Economic Forum

  • Each year the Global Risks Report works with experts and decision-makers across the world to identify and analyze the most pressing risks that we face. As the pace of change accelerates, and as risk interconnections deepen, this year’s report highlights the growing strain we are placing on many of the global systems we rely on.
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance

  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how bond rating agencies are looking more closely at disaster forecasting; Trump's tariffs shake up the solar industry; and Tesla tops up its bet on founder Elon Musk.

Why Larry Fink Isn't Waiting on Washington l Green Biz

  • Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential." With these words, Blackrock CEO Larry Fink last week pushed further open the door to a new era of capitalism in his annual letter to CEOs. This article explores why that new era may be the best chance we have left to solve a number of intertwined strategic challenges, such as climate change and how to welcome 3 billion people into the global middle class over the next 20 years.

ESG Roundup: More UK Consultancies Pledge ESG Trustee Push l Investments & Pensions Europe

  • Four more investment consultants have pledged to ensure UK pension scheme trustees are aware of investment guidance on ESG issues from the country’s pensions regulator. Sixteen investment consultancies have now signed up to an initiative of the Association of Member Nominated Trustees (AMNT) and the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association.

ESG Moves From the Margins to the Mainstream l Green Biz

  • There’s a growing recognition by companies and investors that this view is mistaken — that ESG matters are fundamental to business performance and should be disclosed in financial reports. Businesses are also coming to realize that integrating ESG concerns into core business and financial decisions will generate new streams of data that can be used to enhance growth and sustainability. This article was adapted from State of Green Business 2018, published by GreenBiz in partnership with Trucost.

Intel and Nike use this Investor Engagement Tactic Most Companies Overlook l Green Biz

  • This article outlines the steps to include in a proactive strategy to engage investors around your ESG performance to protect and create value for your firm. Engagement provides opportunities to increase investor understanding of your company's actions and efforts. It also can help develop more positive relationships with investors, open lines of communication and increase goodwill. Participating in the conversation can protect your brand, reputation, access to capital, and diversify your investor base.

Wanted: Private Capital to Tackle U.N. Sustainable Development Goals l Barron's

  • The $5 trillion to $7 trillion annual cost of addressing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, can only be met with a huge boost in private capital. Public monies are meeting only a fraction of this need. Many wealthy investors have already taken up the challenge as the concept of investing to reach social and environmental goals while earning a market rate-of-return increasingly gains traction. The size of the impact investing market to date is unclear, although the Global Impact Investing Network, or GIIN, says $114 billion is a “reasonable floor” based on its 2016 survey of 209 leading impact investors.

How to Drive Competitive Returns with Impact Investing l Wharton

  • In this podcast, two social-impact investors discuss their quest for competitive returns.

Lauren Compere: Socially responsible companies are proving good investments in Asia l Asian Review

  • Interest in the stocks of markets such as China and India and in ESG have reecntly boomed, with more than $70 trillion of assets now managed in line with the U.N.-supported Principles for Responsible Investment. It is time for investors in Asia to consider ESG principles and identify those companies robust enough to provide long-term growth opportunities.

‘We Have to Change Capitalism’ to Beat Climate Change, Says Blackrock Vice-Chair l Climate Home News

  • Capitalism must change to avert climate change, according to the vice-chair of the world’s largest asset manager, Blackrock. Two weeks ago, Blackrock CEO Larry Fink shook the corporate world with a letter demanding social responsibility in return for the support of his company, which manages around $6 trillion in assets. On Wednesday, at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, vice-chair Philipp Hildebrand expanded on that theme.

Socially Responsible Investing Gets a Trump Bump l Chicago Tribune

After Trump's election, though, the expectation was that a Republican-led Washington would enact policies at odds with ESG funds. It would favor the coal and oil industries, for example, which would undercut profits for the renewable energy companies at the heart of many environmentally focused funds. Instead, dollars continued to flow into socially responsible investments, and the industry launched 39 mutual funds and ETFs last year, a record. More and more products are out there now, and everything is poised to see ongoing growth, according to this article.

 

 

Green Bonds

Climate Bonds Surpass Expectations, But Where are U.S. Corporations? l Green Biz

  • According to the latest report from the Climate Bonds Initiative, the climate bonds market surpassed expectations last year, topping $150 billion for the first time as a number of governments, development banks and corporates issued certified green bonds for the first time. At the same time, the fledgling sector is still struggling to deliver the exponential growth that experts believe is needed to support the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change and mobilize a trillion dollars a year of low carbon investment by 2020. 

 
Investment Manager News

Addenda Capital's New Impact Fixed Income Fund Improves Society while Delivering Market-Like Returns l Markets Insider

  • Addenda Capital announced this week that its new Addenda Impact Fixed Income Pooled Fund is seeded and ready to take in new investors, making it one of the first domestically-focused fixed income impact investment funds in Canada.

Envestnet Partners with Investopedia to Launch Impact Investing Hub l Cision

  • The demand for impact investing products is growing, but many independent financial advisors do not utilize them for their clients. To bridge this gap, Envestnet has teamed up with Investopedia to create the new "Impact Investing Hub," which provides advisors and investors with educational content and actionable insights they need to begin meaningful conversations about impact investing.

ValueAct Capital Turns Its Focus To Climate Concerns l Value Walk

  • ValueAct Capital has turned its focus to climate concerns with its latest target, making it the most recent activist to explore ESG issues. Jeff Ubben’s firm announced the launch of a new fund focused on ESG goals, and recently revealed a stake in utility firm AES, where it seeks to help the company decrease its debt and move away from fossil fuels. Ubben was appointed to the company’s board and is supportive of AES’ plan to increase its focus on renewable energy sources.
 
Climate Risk, Science, Regulation & Action

Warming, Water Crisis, Then Unrest: How Iran Fits an Alarming Pattern l The New York Times

  • Nigeria. Syria. Somalia. And now Iran. This article explores how, in each country, in different ways, a water crisis has triggered some combination of civil unrest, mass migration, insurgency or even full-scale war.

Is Fossil Fuel Divestment the Only Way to Address Climate Change Risk? l FTSE Russell

  • As fossil fuel divestment has become more widespread, many have begun to question whether it is the most effective approach to addressing climate change risk. Some also question whether the choice to divest fossil fuels might come at the expense of portfolio returns. This article explores FTSE Russell's range of ways to integrate climate change into investment decisions.

New Chancellor Envisions Zero-Carbon SUNY l Times Union

  • The State University of New York's new chancellor, Kristina Johnson, outlined a plan on Monday to transform the 64-campus system into a zero-carbon operation whose students, faculty and alumni lead the nation in research, innovation, and sustainability. In her first-ever address to students, faculty, staff, and administrators, Johnson said she believes the system has a responsibility to lead in these areas for generations to come, as students become increasingly committed to environmental causes and accustomed to automated technologies, artificial intelligence, robotics and more.

 
Clean Energy

University of New South Wales Signs World-First Solar Energy Agreement l UNSW Newsroom

  • In the first deal of its kind in the world university sector, UNSW has reached an agreement with Maoneng Australia and Origin Energy to have 100% of its energy supplied by photovoltaic solar energy.

This Activist Is Taking a Stake in a Power Generator to Push for Clean Energy l Bloomberg

  • Activist investor ValueAct Capital Management has taken a stake in international power producer AES Corp., and the fund’s founder Jeffrey Ubben will join its board to help push for cleaner energy resources. Ubben will work with AES on the company’s plan to sell coal assets, reduce debt and develop more solar power and battery storage.
 
General Endowment News

Endowment Returns up 12.2% for Fiscal Year But Dip for 10 Years, NACUBO-Commonfund Report Finds l Pensions & Investments

  • Despite healthy 12.2% returns in fiscal 2017, U.S. educational endowments saw their 10-year annualized returns dip, according to the 2017 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments released Thursday. For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2017, one-year returns averaged 12.2% for the colleges and universities in the study, a marked improvement from -0.19% the previous year and 2.4% in fiscal 2015.

The Endowments That Killed It in 2017 l Institutional Investor

  • U.S. university and college endowment funds have rebounded sharply after back-to-back years of disappointing results, with the top performers returning more than 15 percent, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund. This article explores the endowments with the top performances.
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment

Lloyd's of London to Divest From Coal Over Climate Change l The Guardian

  • Lloyd’s of London, the world’s oldest insurance market, has become the latest financial firm to announce that it plans to stop investing in coal companies. Lloyd’s will start to exclude coal from its investment strategy from 1 April. The definition of what is a coal company and the criteria for divestment will be set over the coming months.

San Francisco Approves Scaled-Back Divestment Plan l Chief Investment Officer

  • The board of the $24 billion San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System (SFERS) has approved a watered-down plan to divest from fossil fuel companies that are the “worst of the worst” when it comes carbon emissions. The plan is a scaled-back version of a plan originally introduced last spring that called on the pension system to divest of its $523 million in fossil fuel company stock and $36 million in fixed income securities in its portfolio within 180 days.

Since Education Matters, I’m Guessing Middlebury Will Divest (Opinion) l The Middlebury Campus

  • In this opinion piece, Bill McKibben explores how the premise of Middlebury College is that you emerge wiser after the passage of four years — that new information changes us — and suggests that it’s time to look at the lessons learned over the last half decade since Middlebury’s board first took up the question of fossil fuel divestment. McKibben examines the evidence that has emerged in the course of those years, a learning process that has accelerated in recent weeks as big cities like New York have pledged to sell off billions in oil and gas stocks.

The University of Guelph to Continue Exploring Whether or Not to Divest From Fossil Fuel Investments After Student Protest l The Guelph

  • Discussions will continue between University of Guelph’s board of governors and a group of students seeking to have the university divest itself of investments in the fossil fuel industry. The board of governors was set to vote on a motion recommending the university continue its practice of including companies in the fossil fuel industry in its investment portfolios this week. 

Graduate Student Organization Votes to Support Syracuse Divest Group l The Daily Orange

  • The Graduate Student Organization on Wednesday unanimously voted to pass a bill supporting Syracuse University’s divestment of companies that supply services to for-profit prisons.
 
Calendar of Upcoming Events

Accelerating U.S. Community Impact Investing l The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), January 31st, 2018, Chicago, IL

  • This will be a meeting of institutional investors, foundations, advisors, and wealth managers interested in investment opportunities in the U.S. Specifically, the meeting aims to explore strategies for increasing impact capital allocations to U.S. community investing.

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. 

Webinar: Investing for Racial Justice l Racial Justice Investing Group, February 12th, 2018, 2:00 p.m. ET

  • This webinar will be a briefing on Investing for Racial Justice. Attendees will hear important research, new initiatives, and ideas for the way forward. Presenters will cover topics including prison labor and supply chain risk, race and gender inclusion at public companies, addressing racial justice across asset classes, and immigration and digital surveillance issues.

Clean200: 2018 Q1 Webinar l Clean200, February 15th, 2018, 10:00 a.m. ET

  • This webinar will present Clean200's model looking at how global large-cap companies making significant revenue from clean energy have performed. 

The 100 Most Overpaid CEOs: Are Fund Managers Asleep at the Wheel? l As You Sow

  • The 100 Most Overpaid CEO highlights the fund managers who continue to approve these pay packages at staggering rates (many funds approve nearly 100% of the pay packages they vote on) and contrasts them with those who take a stance against excessive pay with their votes.

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. Click here to apply to join the event as a non-member guest.
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.