Weekly News Round-Up: March 16th, 2018

 
Weekly News Round-Up: March 16th, 2018

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

We are pleased to welcome three new members to the Network: The University of New Hampshire, Nesta, and Pegasus Capital Advisors. To learn more about the leadership opportunities and benefits of IEN membership, click here.

Also, be sure to check out three new articles that were published in NACUBO's Business Officer Magazine this month, including an introduction to mission-aligned investment and case studies on two IEN Members: Lewis and Clark College and Becker College.

Have a great weekend,

Nicole

Program Manager
The Intentional Endowments Network

 
New IEN Members
 
IEN in the News

Investing With a Purpose l Business Officer

  • In this article, IEN Co-Founder and Principal Anthony Cortese discusses how endowment assets aligned with institution values and mission can reap positive financial and social returns.

A Cooperative Path Toward Divestment l Business Officer

  • In this case study, IEN Steering Committee member Carl Vance discusses the collaborative process among trustees, administration, faculty, staff, students, and alumni that IEN Member Lewis and Clark College implemented for a smooth transition to a fossil fuel–free campus.

Matching Investments to Mission l Business Officer

  • This case study describes IEN Member Becker College's transition to 100% impact investing in their endowment as the author shares three key insights that have emerged from their experience.
 
Sustainable Investing at  Foundations & Pension Funds

Nathan Cummings Foundation Letter to the Field: Focused on the Future We Want l Nathan Cummings Foundation

  • The $443m Nathan Cummings Foundation announced this week its decision to transfer all of its assets to investments aligned with its mission. The foundation, which focuses on finding solutions for climate change and inequality, has started to assess its current portfolio to see which investments fit in with its mission. This letter lays out the deliberative process, as well as the questions that arise regarding investment impact and the reasons that an institution decides to align their investments with their mission.

Governor Cuomo and Comptroller Dinapoli Appoint First-Ever Decarbonization Advisory Panel l New York State Press Room

  • Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced the members of the state's first-ever Decarbonization Advisory Panel, which was initially proposed by the Governor during his 2018 State of the State address in January. The panel will advise the Comptroller, as trustee of the $209.1 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund), on how best to mitigate investment risks stemming from climate change and maximize opportunities from the new, low-carbon economy.  
 
New Reports, Resources and Opportunities for Action

Investor Statement on Gun Violence: Invitation to Endorse - Deadline 3/23 l ICCR

  • In the aftermath of last month’s mass shooting in Parkland, a student-led movement has arisen that is demanding a legislative response to the epidemic of gun violence in our country. The objective of publishing this statement is to communicate the importance this issue holds for investors and to challenge companies to reflect on how they can contribute positively to resolve gun violence. 

Measuring Effectiveness: Roadmap to Assessing System-level and SDG Investing l The Investment Integration Project (TIIP)

  • This report examines how investors can chart a course to assess system-level issues (like those contained in the SDGs) appropriate for their specific situation, and then establish effective goals for influence against which to measure progress. Ultimately, this approach enables investors to assess their influence in determining changes at the system-level itself and the potential.

Welcome to the Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment l GRASFI

  • The Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment (GRASFI), a new network of 18 global research universities established to promote rigorous and highly impactful academic research on sustainable finance and investment, becomes public this week with the launch of its website. 

Paper on Financial Performance of ESG Integration in US Investing l PRI

  • This briefing paper has been prepared for investment professionals (particularly trustees and investment consultants) interested in the benefits of ESG integration to investment outcomes in the US. 
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance

  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how bets on environmentally and socially conscious companies last year paid off for several U.S.-based sustainable funds, which found that they could beat a robust bull market; See the top trades from the best-performing U.S. ESG fund managers; ESG assets rose 37% last year; and solar installation prices are dropping for power purchase agreements.

The BlackRock Letter: Going In-Depth on 5 Issues Raised by Larry Fink’s 2018 Message to CEOs l Impactivate

  • In a January 12th letter to the executives of large public companies, BlackRock co-founder and chief executive Larry Fink urged executives to engage with social concerns and pursue social purposes. The points raised by the BlackRock letter have caught the attention of advocates, the business community, and other investors. This article offers a breakdown of five key issues, and a way to go in-depth on each of them.

Gun Ties Under Scrutiny l Inside Higher Ed

  • A revitalized movement pressuring colleges to distance themselves from firearms manufacturers scored a significant victory Tuesday when the CFO of St. Thomas University in Florida resigned amid intense pressure over her new seat on a gun company’s board of directors. Inside Higher Ed queried institutions with the country’s 15 largest endowments Tuesday, asking whether they have had discussions about divesting from gun manufacturers and requesting information on any holdings they have in companies that make firearms. Of those responding, most said they do not comment on individual investments, however, Northwestern University, Texas A&M University, the University of California system and the University of Michigan indicated they do not have investments in firearm manufacturers.

Gender Equity Guides Growth of New ETFs l Moneysense

  • This article discusses how a handful of exchange-traded funds are capitalizing on the perceived investor need for investments chosen through the lens of gender diversity or equity, and explores whether these prove to deliver good returns or are merely good marketing. 

ESG Investors Push Sustainable Business Movement in Asia l Environmental Leader

  • Interest in sustainable investing is growing in Asia, pushing companies to increase their ESG efforts. Analysts say that greater supply-chain transparency, regulatory support, and investor engagement is starting to shift sustainability practices in Asia, the South China Morning Post’s Karen Yeung reported.

New Documentary Series Celebrates Christian Entrepreneurs Who Manage Impact Investments l Forbes

  • This article explores a new a web series of short documentaries which is devoted to Christian entrepreneurs, particularly those who work to integrate their faith into their business in a way which serves not only profit, but also builds social and spiritual capital.
 
Shareholder Engagement

3 Dozen Shareholder Climate Resolutions Target Oil, Gas, and Power Companies l Inside Climate News

  • This article explores how nearly three dozen shareholder resolutions related to climate change risk have been filed this year with publicly traded oil and gas companies and electric utilities, to be voted on by their shareholders at annual meetings spread throughout the spring. Executives often urge shareholders to vote down such resolutions, and there are concerns this year that the administration's positions could lead to even more complacency, by both companies and their investors.
 
Investment Manager News

Digital Platforms Meet Sustainable Investing l Financial Adviser

  • This year FOLIOfn will offer enterprises and advisors a suite of new digital investing tools that includes a robo platform. FOLIOfn’s new digital technology will also offer enhanced SRI investing tools that make it possible for firms to provide every client with a portfolio that is tailored to his or her values.

Values and Profit Meet Up at Brighton and Jones l Barron's

  • In just a few years, Brighton Jones has transitioned 10% of its $4.6 billion in assets to sustainable investing. And the independent firm doesn’t see demand letting up. “I expect this to be a huge growth area for us going forward,” Brighton says. “I can see a day coming, maybe a few years from now, when we say, ‘Let’s go all impact.’ ”

Private Wealth Firm Abbot Downing Turns Focus to Social Impact l Barron's

  • Abbot Downing, the Minneapolis-based private wealth arm of Wells Fargo & Co. for individuals and families with at least US$50 million in investable assets, is creating a “social impact analysis” center within its revamped family governance practice, the Institute of Family Culture, according to Arne Boudewyn, head of the practice.

Aqua-Spark Invests in Global Accelerator for Aquaculture l Feedstuffs

  • Aqua-Spark, the first investment fund focused exclusively on sustainable aquaculture, recently announced its investment in Hatch Accelerator 1.0, the first-ever global accelerator program dedicated to the aquaculture industry. The investment will be used to accelerate a group of eight companies between April and June 2018.
 
Climate Risk, Science and Regulation

Federal Judge's Unprecedented Order on Climate Science 'Could Open Floodgates' for Big Oil Lawsuits l Common Dreams

  • With a decision that could have far-reaching implications, a federal judge in California has ordered the first ever U.S. court hearing on climate science for a "public nuisance" lawsuit, meaning that major oil and gas companies for the first time may have to go on the record regarding what they knew about the planetary impacts of their products—and when.

VW Just Gave Tesla a $25 Billion Battery Shock l Bloomberg

  • Volkswagen AG secured $25 billion in battery supplies to underpin an aggressive push into electric cars in the coming years, ramping up pressure on Tesla Inc. as it struggles with production issues for the mainstream Model 3. The world’s largest carmaker will equip 16 factories to produce electric vehicles by the end of 2022, compared with three currently, Volkswagen said Tuesday in Berlin.

Statoil, Total, Shell Prove Precocious in Weaning From Oil l GreenBiz

  • This article discusses how while European oil majors such as Statoil and Total have created long-term plans to shift their focus away from oil toward natural gas and renewable energy in line with the global transition to a low-carbon economy, their American counterparts appear less convinced that demand for oil will diminish in future decades

UK Farmers to be Given First Ever Targets on Soil Health l The Guardian

  • A new bill will be brought before parliament this year mandating, for the first time, measures and targets to preserve and improve the health of the UK’s soils, amid growing concern that we are sleepwalking into a crisis of soil fertility that could destroy our ability to feed ourselves. The UN has warned that the world’s soils face exhaustion and depletion, with an estimated 60 harvests left before they are too degraded to feed the planet.

Companies Must Disclose Risks From Climate Change, Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Says l National Observer

  • A former U.S. Treasury Secretary says he believes it’s time for companies to come clean about the financial risks they are facing from disruptions caused by climate change. Robert Rubin made the comments on Wednesday at the GLOBE Forum, an annual conference that focuses on sustainable development. Bob Litterman, former head of risk management at Goldman Sachs and Crane Institute of Sustainability Board Member, is quoted in this article.
 
General Higher Education Endowment News

Stanford's Wallace Says Endowment Isn't Used for Activism l Bloomberg

  • The $27 billion Stanford University endowment “is not a tool for social activism,” said Robert Wallace, the fund’s chief executive officer. “We at the Stanford Management Company do not believe it is our job to try to achieve particular social outcomes unless they are consistent with our direct divestment policy or our long-term economic goals,” Wallace told a faculty senate meeting Thursday, according to the Stanford Daily. In 2016, Stanford rejected a proposal to divest from fossil-fuel companies.

As Markets Rise, So, Too, Do Endowments at Area Universities l News & Record

  • When the nation’s financial markets made record gains in 2017, they boosted college endowments in the 2017 fiscal year by an average of about 12%, according to a recent report. It was the largest growth in funds held by universities in three years, and it’s good news for students hoping to get scholarships to pay for college.

Reconsidering the Responsibility of the University of Michigan Endowment (Opinion) l Michigan Daily

  • In this opinion piece, the author discusses recently exposed controversial practices regarding the University of Michigan’s endowment and its investments, including potential conflicts of interest arising from the investment of endowment funds in large University donors and the lack of investment in businesses and funds located in the state of Michigan. The author discusses his opinion that there are plenty of opportunities for the University to pursue its primary goal of maximizing financial returns while making investment decisions that could benefit students, the state of Michigan and society as a whole.

BlackRock's Deshler to Manage Carleton Endowment l Bloomberg

  • Kelsey Deshler, global head of manager research at BlackRock Inc., was named Carleton College’s chief investment officer. Deshler will join the Northfield, Minnesota-based college in late March, Carleton said Tuesday in a statement. She replaces Jason Matz, who left after 12 years to become CIO of the GHR Foundation.
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment

Looking to Divest? Top 5 Considerations for School Board & Investment Committee Members l Glenmede

  • Across the nation, school boards and investment committees are debating the nature of their endowments with increasing frequency. The question facing trustees remains the same: Should an endowment invest assets consistent with the institutional values? On the surface, it’s a seemingly straightforward proposition. Yet the solutions are complex, riddled with questions about adhering to fiduciary duties, protecting donor relations and ensuring there is ample money to sustain and grow the institution.

NYU Divest Protests Governor Cuomo’s Environmental Policy Announcement l NYU Local

  • NYU Divest, alongside other environmental activists, protested Governor Andrew Cuomo as he announced this week that New York has formally requested an exclusion from the five-year National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. The federal program proposes to make more than 90% of the total offshore acreage in the U.S. available to oil and gas drilling. But activists remain skeptical of Cuomo’s actions. Kim Fraczek, Director of the Sane Energy Project and organizer of the protest, said the Williams Pipeline flies in the face of an effective climate change policy.

Divestment Should be Used as Part of a Comprehensive Strategy (Opinion) l Financial Times

  • In this piece, the author discusses how divestment should be used as part of a comprehensive strategy. Focusing on the supply of fossil fuels may assuage the conscience but it is not clear how that will lead to change without shareholder activism elsewhere. Attention should also be devoted to the demand for those fuels from other companies represented in an investment portfolio.
 
Calendar of Upcoming Events
The Wall Street Green Summit l Global Change Associates, March 19, 2018, New York, NY
  • This year's Wall Street Green Summit will focus on the  Impact Economy-- where main street investors team up with corporations, entrepreneurs and government to solve environmental and social problems while generating financial returns.

The 7th Annual OCIO and Investment Outsourcing Summit l Financial Research Associates, March 20-21, 2018, New York, NY

  • From governance and fiduciary responsibility to vendor selection and various outsourcing models, this event will delve deeply into the specifics of investment outsourcing. Hear directly from investors who have gone through the outsourcing process, as well as from leading providers of outsourcing services. Alice DonnaSelva will be moderating a panel on ESG integration and how it relates to OCIO selection.
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 Alice DonnaSelva will be presenting.

Webinar:  Measuring Effectiveness: Roadmap to Assessing System-level and SDG Investing l The Investment Integration Project, March 26, 2018, 1:00 p.m. ET

  • This webinar will provide an overview of a new report that provides investors with a breakthrough roadmap for measuring the effectiveness of system-level investing strategies, including measuring progress toward achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.