Weekly News Round-Up: February 1st, 2019


Weekly News Round-Up: February 1st, 2019

Please find this week's news round-up below, including the exciting news that this week Middlebury College announced a 10-year commitment to reduce energy consumption, phase out direct fossil fuel investments in the endowment, and create new educational programs that will help to empower future generations of environmental leaders.

There's still time to register for the Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit, taking place February 10-12, 2019 in Tempe, AZ. 

View the full agenda here. We have an incredible group of 280 leaders registered for the Summit. The remaining spots are filling up quickly, and we hope to see you there!

Have a great weekend, 


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

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Sign-On Opportunities

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

Middlebury Announces Energy2028 Plan to Address Threat of Climate Change l Middlebury

  • Recognizing the profound threat of climate change, Middlebury College this week announced a 10-year commitment that will put the institution on a path toward a complete shift to renewable energy to power and heat its central campus. The plan also sets ambitious goals to reduce energy consumption, phase out direct fossil fuel investments in the endowment, and, significantly, to create new educational programs and opportunities that will help to empower future generations of environmental leaders.

The Key to Winning Victories Against Big Oil? Perseverance l The Guardian

  • In this article, Bill McKibben discusses how Vermont’s Middlebury College has reversed its course on fossil fuel companies and is leading the way on renewable energy, outlining the factors and background that influenced their decision.

UN Pension’s Journey in Sustainability l Top 1000 Funds

  • This article highlights how The Office of Investment Management at the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund believes portfolios that integrate material ESG metrics into their investment decision-making process, supported by active engagement, have the potential to provide returns that are superior to those of conventional portfolios while exhibiting lower risk over the long term, and how it has informed their investment approach.
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Rethinking Our Oceans: Investing In The Blue Economy l Forbes

  • Globally, the blue economy, including tourism, fisheries, marine renewable energy, and biotechnology, is predicted to grow at double the rate of the rest of the economy by 2030. This article explores what this means for investors, and how the blue economy is particularly important for the fiscal well-being of small island developing states.

ESG Data: Check Your Meter Readings l Real Assets Investments & Pensions Europe

  • This article highlights how, to put ESG theory into practice, real estate fund managers need good quality data, and some are taking it on themselves to get it.

UK Trade Organization Seeks to Define ESG l Chief Investment Officer

  • UK’s trade body for asset managers wants to take care of one of the top issues with ESG investment practices: how to properly define it. The Investment Association has opened an industry-wide consultation on the subject. It aims to bring “greater clarity to help savers and investors navigate and better access this growing feature of the investment management industry.”

Impact Investing: Feeling The Effects l Real Assets Investments & Pensions Europe

  • Impact investing has quickly become a hot topic in institutional real estate circles. This article looks at the latest initiatives and what is causing their appeal.

ESG Investing Soars Globally, Opimas Report Says l Pensions & Investments

  • ESG investing is skyrocketing globally, with a growing number of investors implementing strategies that include ESG criteria of varying quality and complexity, according to a report by capital markets consultant Opimas. The report, "ESG Data: Mainstream Consumption, Bigger Spending," estimates that the responsible investment market reached $30 trillion in assets under management in 2018, up 30.4% from 2016. Opimas projects that figure will grow to $35 trillion by 2020.
Investment Firm News

Meet John Hancock’s First Sustainability Director in the United States l Green Biz

  • This Q&A article interviews Kyle Cahill, John Hancock’s first U.S. sustainability director, as well as Tom Crohan, who heads corporate responsibility and government relations, to learn more about this evolution.

Lazard Asset Management Appoints Co-Heads of Sustainable Investment and ESG l AP

  • Lazard Asset Management announced this week that Jennifer Anderson and Nikita Singhal have joined the firm as Co-Heads of Sustainable Investment and ESG. Anderson and Singhal are based in London and New York, respectively.

Apex Partners With Institutional Shareholder Services l Asset Servicing Times

  • Apex Group has partnered with Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) to deliver ESG reporting capabilities to asset managers worldwide. Under the terms of the partnership, ISS ESG, the responsible investment arm of ISS, will partner with Apex to deliver ESG reporting capabilities to its global client base. The reports will allow Apex clients to measure the ESG performance of each of their portfolio companies.
Climate Risk, Science, and Regulation

CDP Announces 2018 A-List, Naming Top Brands Climate Leaders l Green Biz

  • The Davos Summit kicked off this week with the unveiling of the latest edition of the CDP league table celebrating those global businesses that are "pioneering" efforts to tackle escalating environmental risks. CDP's A-list draws on data disclosed by over 6,800 companies detailing their work to tackle climate change, water security, and deforestation. The investor-backed initiative provides all companies with an A to D rating based on their performance, with just the top 2 percent making it onto the A-List. 
  • This article explores recent extreme weather events in the context of overall climate, weather modeling, and research trends.

Corporations' Hunger for Clean Power Has Never Been Bigger l Bloomberg

  • This article explores how companies and governments bought record amounts of clean power last year, and Facebook is now the largest corporate buyer of clean power.
General Higher Education Endowment News

Endowment Returns Slow; Survey Offers Peek at Spending l Inside Higher Ed

  • Returns fell by a third in 2018 but were still positive, according to the 2018 NACUBO survey. This article highlights questions over how wealthy and poor institutions are spending diverging gains, plus a list of the largest endowments.
General Higher Education Sustainability News

2018 Progress Report on George Washington Sustainability l The George Washington University

  • This report catalogs George Washington's sustainability efforts, including the creation of a Sustainable Investment Fund, which will allocate money from the university endowment toward responsible investment vehicles.  
Fossil Fuel Divestment

BP and BHP Offered Cambridge University Millions Despite Calls to Divest l The Guardian

  • Cambridge University had been offered two new multimillion pound donations from global fossil fuel corporations as it considered calls made last year to divest its endowment fund from oil and gas companies. Documents seen by the Guardian show the university management was aware of a proposed £20m donation offered by BHP – subsequently withdrawn – and £2m from BP, as it considered whether to fully divest its fortune from fossil fuels. This information was not made public or divulged to key people in the decision-making process. Critics claim the offers skewed the process and are demanding the decision is overturned.

Middlebury Commits to Divesting $1 Billion Endowment From Fossil Fuels l VT Digger

  • Middlebury College will divest its $1 billion endowment from fossil fuels within 15 years. The commitment is part of a larger package of environmental reforms the college announced on Tuesday. The school has also promised to transition to 100 percent renewable energy sources – not derived from fossil fuels – for electric and thermal power at its main Vermont campus by 2028 and to reduce its overall energy consumption by 25 percent in that same time period. The school will also expand its climate-focused academic and research programming.

We Changed Our College’s Mind About Fossil Fuels—You Can, Too l The Nation

  • After Middlebury College rejected its students demands to divest from fossil fuels in 2013, students kept fighting—and now, the school has unanimously voted to divest.

Women’s Colleges Must Lead The Way With Divestment l The Varsity

  • In this article, the author argues that the disproportionate impact of climate change on women is an opportunity for Cambridge University’s all-female colleges to lead the divestment movement.
Calendar of Upcoming Events

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 2019 l Total Impact, May 1-2, 2019, Philadelphia, PA 




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