Weekly News Round-Up: April 27th, 2018

 
Weekly News Round-Up: April 27th, 2018

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

Don't forget to register for our Community Impact Investing Roundtable on June 11th at The Boston Foundation-- registration is open here! (Please note that at this time only asset owner seats are available.)

Also, be sure to register for the next IEN webinar exploring the importance of ESG data & corporate engagement, taking place on May 10th. 

Have a great weekend,

Nicole

Program Manager
The Intentional Endowments Network

 
Sustainable Investing at Endowments

University of Toronto Asset Management Corp. Reports on Responsible Investing Performance l University of Toronto

  • In 2017, The University of Toronto Asset Management Corp., which oversees nearly $10 billion in pension, endowment and other assets, became a signatory to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment, and worked hard to incorporate an ESG lens to the already rigorous process it uses to vet investment managers. In 2017, UTAM’s approach resulted in a 12.4 percent rate of return for the pension and endowment portions of its portfolio, which beat the university's target return by 6.6 percent.

Knox College Committee Formed to Provide Guidance on Socially Responsible Investments l The Knox

  • A committee at Knox College formed to provide guidance to the Board of Trustees on socially responsible investing has released a form available to the Knox community to provide their input. The Knox Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing (KACSRI) has been meeting monthly since January to lay down the groundwork for the project, which they expect to really get going in the fall.
 
 Opportunities for Action

US SIF Foundation Opens 2018 Survey on US Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing Trends l Digital Journal

  • US SIF Foundation announced today that the window for the 2018 Biennial Trends Survey is now open. The survey will provide data for the 2018 edition of its Trends report.  For reference, please see the 2016 report and this piece showing Highlights from Educational Institutions. To request a customized link to participate, contact the US SIF research team at trends@ussif.org. All survey responses are confidential. 

Proxy Season Sign-On Opportunities

 
New Reports & Resources 

How ESG Engagement Creates Value For Investors and Companies l Principles for Responsible Investing (PRI)

  • This piece of research, commissioned by the PRI, looks at how ESG engagement creates value for both companies and investors, amid growing evidence that engagement by investors with companies on ESG issues can create shareholder value.  

 

Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Investing

  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how the U.S. Department of Labor unveiled guidelines that said ESG investments aren’t always "prudent" for retirement accounts; Philippe Zaouati, CEO of Mirova, on making sustainable finance more accessible; China's carmakers are ready to lead a global electric car revolution; It's time to question if pay equality really exists.  

Sustainable Investing, the Big-Money Way l Barrons

  • This article explores two big themes that investment consultants are increasingly being asked to help their clients with: sustainable and ESG investing, and heightened awareness regarding fiduciary duty.

Choose Ethical Investments to Make More Money, Says Deutsche Bank l The Telegraph

  • This article highlights a Deutsche Bank study of more than a decade’s worth of data showing companies that can pass an ESG test are typically better bets than those which fail. Based on data spanning from 1991 to 2004, a period that includes both market booms and recessions, the findings showed that model portfolios of stocks with a high ESG grade did not suffer from any loss of performance compared with their peers. By contrast, there is “a performance penalty for portfolios of low-rated stocks”.

Impact Investing Comes Into Its Own l Insead Knowledge

  • This article outlines how, in 2010, INSEAD’s Global Private Equity Initiative (GPEI) started to explore the nascent trend of responsible investing. In 2014, it published its first report on ESG factors within the private equity (PE) context. Four years hence, the industry has evolved significantly. Findings from the recently published book Mastering Private Equity are also discussed.

Social and Sustainable Investing Gets a Boost From an Unlikely Source: Wall Street Activists l CNBC

  • Several high-profile activists – including Cliff Robbins of Blue Harbour Group and Barry Rosenstein of Jana Partners – see environmental and social factors as profit plays. "This is hugely important – I think this is a new paradigm for smart investing," Robbins told a crowd at the 13D Monitor Active-Passive Summit last week. "I actually have wanted to run a proxy contest with an all-female, diverse, ethnic slate ... I think we'd win, hands-down," Bill Ackman said.

Can the World of Finance Be Tapped for Peace? l Knowledge @ Wharton

  • This article is a transcript of a speech given at the United Nations General Assembly this week by former investment banker Durreen Shahnaz, founder of the Impact Investment Exchange (IIX), the world’s first social stock exchange. To date, IIX has brought in $75 million from the private sector to benefit 15 million people across 40 countries. Shahnaz believes that reducing inequality will reduce conflict and lead to sustainable peace. She has launched a new five-year initiative that leverages finance to tap $1 billion and help 100 million people. 
 
Green Bonds

More Research Needed on Using ESG in Fixed-Income Investing — GPIF, World Bank l Pensions & Investments

  • Further research and development about incorporating ESG factors into fixed income is needed to increase ESG fixed-income investing, said a new report from Japan's $1.5 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund and the World Bank Group. The report is the first part of a partnership between the Tokyo-based GPIF, the world's largest pension fund, and World Bank, in promoting strategies for including ESG criteria in investment decisions across different asset classes.
 
Fiduciary Duty

Labor Department Says ESG Investments Aren't Always `Prudent' l Investment News

  • The Department of Labor published guidelines Monday that said investments based on ESG issues aren't always a "prudent choice" and that such factors shouldn't "too readily" be considered as economically relevant by fiduciaries. That differs from 2016 guidance from the Obama administration, which said such plans could consider ESG factors without violating their fiduciary duty, opening the way for more retirees to pursue socially-responsible investment strategies.

Prudence, Materiality and Impact in the Trump Era l The Impact Alpha

  • This article offers an analysis of the new DOL guidance and how it reinforces the core idea that material ESG factors should be considered by investors, especially long term investors like endowments and foundations.
 
Student-Managed Fund News

Kresge Foundation Powers New Investment Fund at Wayne State University l Kresge

  • The Kresge Foundation and Wayne State University officials today announced a $2 million student-managed investment fund that complements a course designed to teach students the essentials of portfolio management and stock evaluation and selection. The fund is a carve-out of the foundation’s $3.8 billion endowment and is intended to provide real-world investment experience to Wayne State business school undergraduates while exposing them to local career opportunities in investment management.
 
Investment Firm News

John Kerry Joins TPG’s $2 Billion Rise Fund as Senior Adviser l Bloomberg

  • TPG’s Rise Fund has enlisted former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as a senior adviser, bolstering its credibility as the fund sets out to prove that financial returns and social good can go hand-in-hand.

Exclusive: KKR Launches Unit Focused on Impact Investing l Reuters

  • KKR & Co LP has set up a business to invest in budding companies which have societal or environmental benefits, marking the U.S. private equity firm’s foray into dedicated so-called impact investing, sources aware of the plans said. The move underscores how buyout firms, long associated with saddling companies with debt and slashing costs and jobs, are now seeking to offer products to investors that also appeal to an ESG business agenda.

'Money Talks': A $1.2 Trillion Fund Manager is About to Pull Investment From Companies That Won't Act on Climate Change l Business Officer

  • Legal and General, which oversees more than $1.2 trillion in assets, said it would punish companies with a bad record on climate change and strip them of their funding. Helena Morrissey, head of personal investing, said the firm will next week be "naming and shaming" companies that have failed to act sufficiently on climate change after repeated encouragement, and will pull investment from them.

Greeneum – A Blockchain Platform For Investing In Clean Energy l Legal Gambling

  • To encourage funding in clean energy, Greeneum has created the world’s first blockchain technology-based clean energy investment and trading platform. The secure and scalable energy and data trading platform facilitates investments in green energy projects including solar, hydro and wind power, while concurrently creating production efficiencies during demand fluctuations.

BNP Paribas Launches Two Sustainability ETFs l ETF Strategy

  • BNP Paribas has launched two new ETFs providing exposure to European and Japanese equities with strong ESG characteristics. The new funds select constituents based on data from MSCI ESG Research.

Jessica A. Milano Joins Calvert as Director of ESG Research l The Virginian Pilot

  • Calvert Research and Management (Calvert), a subsidiary of Eaton Vance Management (Eaton Vance), announced today that Jessica A. Milano has joined the firm as Director of ESG Research. Ms. Milano joins Calvert at a time when the company is further expanding its Responsible Investing research capabilities to support the growth in interest from institutional and retail investors in the U.S. and abroad. Her role includes overseeing the firm's ESG research on global securities, which focuses on identifying and analyzing ESG factors most critical to company performance and whose societal impact is most significant.

ACCIONA: Why It Makes Sense to Invest in the Planet l Business Wire

  • Companies, financial markets, governments and consumers should align their investment decisions with the protection of the planet, ACCIONA says in a new campaign. The Spain-based renewable energy and infrastructure group believes the practice of sustainability, which the company embraced more than a decade ago, needs to evolve in order to remain relevant. To do so, ACCIONA has launched a new brand campaign that challenges the investment community to re-examine their investment strategies, particularly with regard to their impact on the planet.
 
Climate Risk & Clean Energy

The Production and Use of Waste-Derived Renewable Natural Gas as a Climate Strategy in the United States l World Resources Institute

  • The production of Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) from organic waste for use as a vehicle fuel is an emerging strategy that businesses, states, and municipalities in the United States are pursuing to make use of waste-derived methane and lower the carbon footprint of vehicle fleets. This working paper explores RNG’s potential as a climate-change strategy in the U.S., including the conditions under which it can achieve large greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions compared to fossil fuels used to power vehicles.
 
General Higher Education Endowment & Sustainability News

Harvard Land Ownership in Brazil Scrutinized in Title Dispute l Bloomberg

  • Another Harvard University farmland investment in Brazil may go awry. The prosecutor’s office in the state of Bahia said it’s reviewing allegations that a company linked to Harvard’s endowment isn’t the rightful owner of land in the region, and it’s determining whether to sue to reclaim the titles. The land in Western Bahia was purchased by Caracol Agropecuaria, a company that is controlled by Harvard’s $37.1 billion endowment through an entity called Guara LLC, according to the university’s tax filings.

Mount Holyoke Seeks Carbon Neutrality by 2037 l Mount Holyoke

  • This week, in recognition of the fact that the responsibility to work toward a greener and more equitable world is shared by all concerned individuals and institutions, the Board of Trustees at Mount Holyoke College has announced the goal of reaching carbon neutrality on campus by 2037, the institution’s bicentennial.
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment

Catholic Institutions Mark Earth Day With Fossil Fuel Divestment Pledge l Business Green

  • Bishops, Catholic banks worth €7.5bn and 35 other institutions in the Catholic hierarchy announced on Earth Day plans to remove fossil fuels from their investment holdings. 

A Crucial Step For Macalester College's Partial Divestment Proposal l The Mac Weekly

  • This week, Fossil Free Mac heard back from Macalester’s Social Responsibility Committee (SRC) and President Brian Rosenberg regarding our proposal to place a moratorium on the $40 million the college endowment invests in private partnerships with the oil and gas industry that the members of the committee have unanimously voted to support this proposal.

Engaging to Disengage: Mark Wallace Inaugurates the Faculty Fast for Divestment l Swarthmore Phoenix

  • In this interview, a professot at Swarthmore College, Mark Wallace, discusses why he is fasting as an act of solidarity with student activists advocating for fossil fuel divestment.

New Institute Challenges Divestment Movement l Chief Investment Officer

  • A new pension-focused institute has been created that seeks to challenge nationwide efforts to convince public pension funds to divest from companies for ESG reasons. The Institute for Pension Fund Integrity says many of the stocks that the ESG movement shuns generate good returns, so dumping them will harm pension portfolio returns. The group said it wants to ensure that state and local leaders are held responsible for their choices in public pension investment, and “to keep plan managers from placing politics ahead of prudent investment.”

Is Fossil Fuel Industry Secretly Behind a New Campaign Against Fossil Fuel Divestment? l DESMOG

  • Last week a newly formed organization, The Institute for Pension Fund Integrity (IPFI), published its first “white paper” on the topical issue of  “getting politics out of pensions”. This article explores the political and industry ties of the report's authors, and the different media and public affair companies that are tied to the IPFI.

Fossil-Fuel Critics Push Washington University to 'Walk The Walk' on Global Climate Change l St. Louis Today

  • Recently, University of Washington students participated in an on-campus demonstration that delivered Chancellor Mark Wrighton a petition with more than 1,000 student signatures supporting fossil fuel divestment. "Regarding the call to divest of fossil energy investments, our position has long been that our investment policy will not be changed or used to support political, social or other agendas,” Wrighton said in a statement to the Post-Dispatch last week. “I will ask that our policy be reviewed at a meeting of the board of the Washington University Investment Management Company.”

Verbum Ultimum: Dartmouth's Disconnect (Opinion) l The Dartmouth

  • This article outlines student opinions on Dartmouth College's Board of Trustees recent disclosure of 26 holdings in their U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission Form 13F filing, revealing that the College holds shares valued at $66,615,000 from the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Explore & Production exchange-traded fund.

Debate Heats up on Cambridge University's Fossil Fuel Divestment l Financial Times

  • A campaign to demand that Cambridge university’s £6.3bn endowment fund sell out of fossil fuels escalated last week when students occupied a building on campus and 300 academics signed an open letter urging swift action on divestment. The university has repeatedly clashed with academics and students over divestment, partly because of concern that research funding could be hit. Oil companies including BP, ExxonMobil and Shell have given money to the university.

BP Executive Urges Cambridge University Against Fossil Fuel Divestment l The Varsity

  • This article explores how BP CEO Bob Dudley criticised the divestment campaign at Cambridge as the product of a “simplified idea” that “climate change will be solved by renewables.”

University of North Caroline Asheville (UNCA) Divest Petitions Against Fossil Fuels on Campus l The Blue Banner

  • This article highlights how UNCA Divest, a student-run group on campus, met with the Endowment Investment Committee at UNC Asheville to discuss the universities’ investments in fossil fuels.
 
Calendar of Upcoming Events
  • In this webinar, panelists will be discussing the importance of standardized and publically available ESG data, as well as initiatives, tools and resources to promote ESG data disclosure, and examples of investors engaging in this work. Participants will also learn how shareholder engagement can improve ESG data availability and how they can participate in the engagement process.

Mission Forward! MIE’s 2018 National Conference l Mission Investors Exchange, May 14-16, 2018, Chicago, IL

  • This conference offers an action-focused, collaborative, and personal space for foundations to renew and build partnerships, experience on-the-ground impact investments, share investment opportunities, meet leading voices in the field, and shape the future of the impact investing movement.

Davos on the Delta l iSelect Fund, May 15-17, 2018, Memphis, TN

  • This ag industry event will feature presentations, group discussions, and one-on-one networking, and participants will explore the changing agriculture landscape and the new opportunities it is creating across the value chain. 

IEN Roundtable: Community Impact Investing l Intentional Endowments Network, June 11, 2018, Boston, MA

  • The Intentional Endowments Network will host a Community Impact Investing Roundtable focused on opportunities for place-based investing. The Roundtable will convene endowment and foundation decision-makers and other stakeholders interested in enhancing their leadership on sustainable investing.

Confluence Philanthropy's 2018 Advisors Forum l June 19-20, 2018, New York, NY

  • The Advisors Forum will convene Confluence members and colleagues to explore how we can work together to scale the impact industry. Discussions will focus on cutting-edge themes including investing in diversity, inclusion, and equity; sustainability; and barriers to deal flow. IEN members will receive the member rate to participate.

The 29th Annual SRI Conference l November 1-3, 2018, Colorado Springs, CO

  • The SRI Conference is the longest-running annual gathering of investors and investment professionals working to make money and direct the flow of investment capital toward a truly sustainable future.