Weekly News Round-Up: March 3rd, 2017

New Members

Upcoming Events

Responsible Investment Forum l Private Equity International & UN PRI, March 7-8, 2017, New York, NY
  • Find out why leading global investors are putting increasing pressure on US managers to adopt stricter ESG principles as they consider investing in private equity and other alternative asset classes. Building on the success of the longest-running ESG event in Europe, the Responsible Investment Forum comes to New York to 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.
Webinar: Proxy Preview 2017 Report Release l As You Sow, the Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2), and Proxy Impact, March 8, 2017, 2:00 pm ET
  • Proxy Preview 2017 is the 13th annual edition of the insider’s guide to social and environmental shareholder proposals. This free publication is the #1 resource for shareholders looking to align their values and investments. Proxy Preview provides the most comprehensive data on more than 300 resolutions—including corporate political spending, climate change, energy, human rights, diversity, sustainability, and much more. This webinar will offer a preview of the reports findings.
Webinar: Sustainable Investing through Hedge Funds l Intentional Endowments Network, March 9, 2017, 1:00 - 2:00 PM ET
  • This webinar will focus on the ESG and sustainable investing strategies that have historically been less prevalent in hedge funds than other areas of investment. Because of their ability to sell short, hedge funds can benefit not only from investing long in winning companies, but also from shorting companies on the losing end of the shift to sustainable business models or companies with high levels of ESG risk. 
  • Join moderator Janine Guillot of SASB, and panelists Robert Herz, former Chairman of FASB, Rakhi Kumar of State Street Global Advisors, Malcolm Ryerse of Columbia Threadneedle Investments for a roundtable discussion aimed to help attendees gain a broader understanding of why investors care about ESG info and how investors use the information, learn about the current regulatory environment as it relates to corporate reporting on sustainability issues, and understand the landscape and state of disclosure for climate-related risks.
Impact Investing Forum 2017 l Opal Group, April 23, 2017 - April 25, 2017, Boca Raton, FL
  • The Impact Investing Forum will look at many of the asset classes that encompass this space. We invite you to join us and meet top influencers, experienced investors, money managers, and service providers that are leading the charge in this ever growing space. Themes of defining impact investing, portfolio construction, asset class opportunities, and the role of the investor are just a few of the stimulating topics to be covered at this event. This conference will exclusively feature dialogue driven panel discussions led by consultants and family offices.
The Impact Capitalism Summit l Big Path Capital, April 25-26, 2017, Chicago, IL
  • The Impact Capitalism Summit is the Largest Convening of Impact Investors Globally. This year at the Impact Capitalism Summit in Chicago we will explore the progress of leading impact investment portfolios, discover the latest innovations across sectors, themes and asset classes, and identify the steps needed to harness the power of capital markets to build a sustainable, fair and just economy where opportunity and prosperity are shared by all.
Sustainable / ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how investors continue to push for more diversity on corporate boards; Natixis' launch of ESG target date funds aimed at 401(k)s; John Goldstein, managing director of ESG and impact investing at Goldman says the "core secular trend'' favoring ESG "outweighs the short-term effects" of the U.S. election; and the ongoing enthusiasm for renewables.
How Investments in Agriculture Intersect with Human Rights l Foodtank
  • Kaitlin Y. Cordes heads investments in land and agriculture at the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), as well as the Center’s work on the intersection of human rights and international investments. In this Q&A, Ms. Cordes discusses potential solutions to challenges and opportunities in international agricultural investment and how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can help improve land tenure and human rights for farmworkers.
Ranking Oil, Gas and Mining Companies on Indigenous Rights in the Arctic l Academia.edu
  • This ranking evaluates the public commitments, formalized procedures and institutional arrangements of oil, gas and mining companies for handling indigenous rights in the Arctic.The purpose of the ranking is to support norm formation and to contribute to improving the performance of companies on indigenous rights by highlighting which companies have made a public commitment to indigenous rights, and to what extent.The ranking covers 92 oil, gas and mining companies involved in onshore resource extraction above the Arctic Circle. 
  • Two major US-based investment groups – Fidelity and JP Morgan Asset Management – have signed up to responsible investments bodies. First: Fidelity Investments, the fourth largest mutual fund and financial services group in the world with $2.1trn in assets under management, has become a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). Meanwhile, JP Morgan AM has become a member of the Institutional Investor Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) – a London-based NGO representing European investors who want to address climate change risks and opportunities.
  • In a letter to President Donald Trump’s director of the National Economic Council, Gary Cohn, a trade group chaired by executives like JP Morgan Chase & Co. chief executive Jamie Dimon and Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson asked the administration to consider or reconsider 16 federal regulations, four of which concerned finance and corporate governance. The financial rules include regulation on the shareholder proposal process, a delay of the CEO Pay Ratio Disclosure Rule, a reconsideration of the Conflict Minerals Disclosure Rule, and a delay of the Margin Requirements for Un-cleared Swaps rule.
ESG Not Going Away, But a Lot of Work Left — CII Conference Panel l Pensions & Investments
  • ESG investing is a “slow moving, unstoppable train,” said Rebecca Fender, head, future of finance, head of the Future of Finance initiative at the CFA Institute, speaking on a panel on next-generation investing at the Council of Institutional Investors' Winter Conference in Washington on Tuesday. She added that there's a “pipeline issue that needs to be thought about,” as the institute has heard from many top business schools that their students are less interested in going into finance.

The Rise of ESG at KKR l Privcap

  • In a keynote interview with Georges Dyer of the Intentional Endowments Network, and Ken Mehlman, the head of public affairs at KKR—also a veteran of the political scene—discuss the motivations behind KKR’s embrace of ESG as a tool for value creation.
BlackRock Rapidly Expanding ESG Reach l ETF.com
  • The iShares lineup of funds has a broad and growing offering of ESG and SRI ETFs. In this Q&A, Deborah Winshel, BlackRock’s global head of impact investing, discusses why this investment space is expanding so quickly.
  • One of 2016's big themes was the mass of filings and launches for exchange-traded funds focusing on ESG, nearly doubling the space. By ETF.com’s count, there are nearly 50 funds that focus on sustainable investing, a catch-all term that covers ESG factors, socially responsible investing and other values-based investing. In 2016 alone, there were 21 sustainable funds launched, with the majority of those coming in the second half of the year.
Impact Investing
 
  • Recent research has shown that companies with more women in management and on boards, as well as those with better gender diversity reflected throughout their businesses, tend to outperform companies with fewer women in management and with lower gender diversity. The SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity ETF, the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund, and a Barclays-sponsored exchange-traded note, are the only public offerings focused on investing in a gender-aware manner, although most funds that actively incorporate ESG factors into their investment process include employee-diversity policies and board composition as considerations.
  • The Science Communication Unit of the University of the West of England has produced what it calls a “future brief,” a discussion of environmental impact investing focused especially on the European context. This article outlines some of their findings.
  • Between research, teaching and talent development, elite MBA programs might be one of the most important cogs in the growth of impact investing. Some schools are already leading the budding field and sending elite talent into the most interesting and important development in the capital markets.

General Endowment News
 
Harvard’s Endowment Plans to Continue One Tradition l The Wall Street Journal
  • Harvard’s endowment is sticking to one tradition: investing early with some traders that leave to start their own shops. Harvard Management Co. is currently remodeling its operations under a new chief executive — laying off half its staff and changing its investment philosophy. Even as it makes these big changes, Harvard also plans to back the next ventures of two internal trading groups, a fixed income team run by Graig Fantuzzi and Michele Toscani, and a credit team headed by Rene Canezin, said people familiar with the matter. Harvard expects to invest at least $300 million with each of the teams, one of the people said.
Johns Hopkins Taps Money Manager Specialist for Endowment Post l Yahoo Finance
  • The new chief investment officer for Johns Hopkins University’s endowment specializes in selecting outside money managers. Jason Perlioni, 43, will use his expertise at the Baltimore-based university, where he’ll be charged with finding and managing outside advisers for more than $6 billion for the endowment of both the university and hospital as well as other assets, the university said Tuesday. Perlioni starts July 1.
  • Three years ago, UBC’s Board of Governors approved an endowment responsible investment policy that established best practices that take into account ESG factors when making investment decisions. Building on that commitment, the university is now allocating $10 million in seed money from its Trek endowment funds to the new Sustainable Future Fund that will invest in low-carbon emission and high ESG equity funds.
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
Amazon Deforestation, OnceTamed, Comes Roaring Back l The New York Times
  • A decade after the “Save the Rainforest” movement captured the world’s imagination, this article explores how Cargill and other food giants are pushing deeper into the wilderness.
Why ExxonMobil's New CEO, Like the Old One, Backs a Carbon Tax l Green Biz
  • ExxonMobil chairman and CEO Darren Woods has signaled his backing for the Paris Agreement and called for a carbon tax to reduce U.S. emissions in one of his first major public communications since taking the reins at the oil giant in January. In a blog post on the ExxonMobil website, Woods emphasized the importance of managing the risks of climate change and highlighted his company's plans to boost natural gas generation, energy efficiency, biofuels and carbon capture and storage (CCS) to help drive down its emissions.
New ExxonMobil CEO Calls for Socially Responsible Energy as Investors Re-file Climate Proposal l Responsible Investor (Subscription)
  • A coalition of institutional investors with $4trn under management, led by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and the Church Commissioners for England, have re-filed their climate change disclosure proposal at oil major ExxonMobil that gained a massive 38% support last year. 
Boston Common and ShareAction Working on Transatlantic Bank Engagement on Climate Change l Responsible Investor (Subscription)
  • ShareAction, the UK-based campaign group, and Boston Common Asset Management, the US SRI specialist, are working together on a shareholder engagement programme with banks in Europe and the US on climate change. Speaking to Responsible Investor, Juliet Phillips, campaign manager at ShareAction, said it would be co-ordinating a transatlantic strategy for engagement with banks with US-based Boston Common during the upcoming AGM season that could involve co-ordinated statements and letters.
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
King's College London PhD Student Goes Hungry to Protest Fossil Fuel Investment l Energy Live News
  • A PhD researcher at King’s College London (KCL) has started a hunger strike protest to call for fossil fuel divestment. The student is part of the King’s Climate Change Emergency (KCCE) group, which alongside Fossil Free KCL, is campaigning against the university’s continued investment in fossil fuels. The campaign is now planning what it says will be the largest act of civil disobedience ever undertaken by the fossil fuel divestment movement – covering the front of the university’s buildings with hundreds of flowers, statements, balloons and paintings this coming weekend.
Global Divestment Movement Announces a Major Mobilization l EcoWatch
  • From 5-13 May, the Global Divestment Mobilisation will intensify the demand for individuals and institutions to divest from the companies most responsible for causing climate change. Thousands worldwide will take action to push cities, universities, churches, pension funds, museums and other institutions to demonstrate climate leadership by breaking their financial ties to fossil fuel companies.
Smith CollegeProtesters to Demand Divestment From Fossil Fuels l masslive.com
  • Smith College student climate activists are demanding that Smith College withdraw all investments from the fossil fuel industry, and are planning a protest and vigil this week. Students will hold a "vigil for victims of climate change and the fossil fuel industry" while organizers with Divest Smith College meet with the college's Board of Trustees, according to a spokeswoman for the group.
Swarthmore College Mountain Justice Stages Sit-in and Protest After Board’s Divestment Decision l The Phoenix
  • Last week members of Swarthmore's Mountain Justice staged a sit-in protest in the office of Chief Investment Officer Mark Amstutz, following the Board of Manager’s decision to continue investment in fossil fuel industries despite a student referendum that urged the Board to divest. Later in the day, the Parrish Hall sit-in transitioned to a rally in Kohlberg Hall to disrupt the Board meeting taking place.
Private Prison Divestment

Vanderbilt Student Opinion Piece: Private prisons, (Y)our Contributions and The Need to Divest l Vanderbilt Hustler

  • In this opinion piece, Vanderbilt University student Shawn Reilly discusses why the University should divest from private prisons.
 
Investment Manager News
 
Nuveen NuShares ESG ETFs: ETFs For The Socially Conscious l Seeking Alpha
  • This article takes a quick look at the 5 newly launched Nuveen NuShares ETFs. The funds employ a 2 stage ESG screen which creates the TIAA ESG Indexes, and the 5 available funds cover the 9 Morningstar style boxes.
Lyxor Makes Foray into ESG With Green Bond ETF Launch l Investment Week
  • Lyxor Asset Management has launches its first "pure" environmental product, the Lyxor Green Bond UCITS ETF, in response to growing investor appetite for ESG strategies and new regulation in France.
Natixis Launches First ESG Target-Date Funds l Wealth Management
  • Natixis Global Asset Management has launched the first series of 401(k) target-date funds to focus on ESG investing. The Natixis Sustainable Future Funds feature vintages ranging every five years from 2015 to 2060 and rely heavily on the expertise of Mirova—a Natixis-owned asset management company with 30 years of ESG investing experience—among other investment constituents and sub-advisors.