Weekly News Round-Up: April 6th, 2018

 
Weekly News Round-Up:  April 6th, 2018

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

Please note that our Community Impact Investing Roundtable, originally scheduled for April 27, has been postponed. We will be confirming a date in June as soon as possible. We'll keep you posted!

Also, IEN is pleased to be partnering with Confluence Philanthropy to support their upcoming Advisors Forum in NYC, June 19-20, 2018. Registration is now open for IEN members.

Have a great weekend,

Nicole

Program Manager
The Intentional Endowments Network

 
Sustainable Investing at  Endowments & Foundations

Stetson University Students Announce New ESG Stock Index l Cision

  • Stetson University's Roland George Investments Program (RGIP) recently launched a new stock index – the first of its kind-focusing on ESG (environmental, social and governance), during the semi-annual public trustee meeting. Five Stetson University RGIP seniors spent months researching, vetting, analyzing and, ultimately, pitching, a total of six stocks to a board of faculty and student trustees. Those six are the ESG index, which includes three publicly traded single stocks, HFDC Bank, Movie Pass and Planet Fitness stocks.

Mission Alignment Marks Next Frontier of Endowment Investing l Pro Bono

  • Society’s problems will not be solved by grantmaking alone, according to the US-based Nathan Cummings Foundation which has announced it is moving to 100% mission-aligned impact investing. In March the foundation revealed it will align all of its half-billion dollar endowment with efforts that advance its mission of “creating a more just, vibrant, sustainable, and democratic society and finding solutions to the climate crisis and growing inequality”.
 
New Reports, Resources and Opportunities for Action

Investor Statement of Concern on the Increasing Harassment and Attacks on Human Rights Defenders l Investor Alliance for Human Rights (IAHR)

  • In light of the increasing threats against human rights defenders globally, and the urgent situation facing indigenous rights defenders in the Philippines currently, IAHR is making a broad call to action for companies in the form of an investor statement, asking companies to take broad, systemic action to protect defenders, and immediate action to ensure the protection and physical safety of indigenous rights defenders in the Philippines. The deadline is Friday April 13, 2018 for signatures.

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. 

Best Interests in the Long Term: Fiduciary Duties and ESG Integration l SSRN

  • This paper dispels two persistent misconceptions continue to affect the way fiduciaries think about sustainable investing: (1) fiduciary duties block a fiduciary investor from considering environmental and social factors and (2) if a fiduciary investor engages in sustainable or responsible investing, the portfolio will suffer financially.
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

French Central Bank Formalizes Responsible Investment Stance l Investments and Pensions Europe

  • The French central bank has adopted a responsible investment charter that will govern the management of some €20bn of assets. The charter is part of Banque de France’s vision of its corporate social responsibility, which it formally documented in a charter at the end of 2016.

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance

  • This week's Blomberg Brief highlights how  Investors are focused on Tesla's finances after a tumultuous week for its shares and bonds; The EPA moved to cut Obama-era fuel-efficiency rules for cars and light trucks; and Royal Dutch Shell is seeing a viable, commercial business in solar and batteries in developing economies, Brian Davis, vice president for energy solutions in its New Energies unit said.

Ellevest Rolls Out Women-Focused Impact Fund l Impact Alpha

  • Ellevest, the robo-advisor launched last year by Wall Street veteran Sallie Krawcheck is launching an impact fund to invest in women-owned businesses and other underserved groups and ESG focused funds. The company, which manages about $100 million, said its impact investments “are specifically designed to generate measurable, positive social and/or environmental outcomes — with a focus on advancing women.”

Facebook Scandal Raises ESG Concerns l Financial Standard

  • Facebook is currently embroiled in multiple lawsuits as a result of having exposed raw data on 50 million users to political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. This article describes the thought process behind BetaShares decision to remove Facebook from its Global Sustainability Leaders ETF (ETHI). ETHI is the largest ethical global equities ETF traded on the ASX, with about $170 million in funds under management. The decision by the fund's responsible investment committee (RIC) to remove Facebook from the index ETHI tracks follows ongoing monitoring of the company's controversies and reputational issues.

Think Systemically, Act Locally: Who's Backing This Push to Build Community Wealth? l Inside Philanthropy

  • These are heady times for local and regional giving. Although national funders coming out of places like New York and the Bay Area command the most attention, growing philanthropic wealth can be found almost everywhere. Just this week, for example, the Minneapolis Foundation announced that it raised a record $100 million last year—more than double what it was averaging five years ago.  In turn, there's a lot of local giving action, which this article explores.

Hedge Funds Starting To Consider ESG Issues In Campaigns l Law 360

  •  Activist hedge funds better known for their financially focused campaigns are increasingly looking at public companies’ environmental, social and governance profiles, as institutional investors call for an emphasis on long-term value and markets react to the political climate and corporate scandals.

How the World's Largest Pension Invests in ESG l Investopedia

  • This article discusses The Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) in Japan, the world’s largest pension fund with $1.3 trillion in assets under management. GPIF has become a major player and stalwart of responsible investments worldwide - especially in Asia where, excluding Japan, SRI investments remain a minuscule slice of the asset pie under professional management (0.8% to be precise).

Hershey is Investing in More Sustainable Cocoa for its Chocolate Treats l Los Angeles Times

  • Hershey Co. is spending $500 million in the hopes of producing its iconic chocolate Kisses from more sustainable cocoa. Through its Cocoa for Good program, the company will invest the funds through 2030 to support four key areas: nourishing children, empowering youth, building prosperous communities and preserving natural ecosystems. The initiative's goals include eliminating child labor and increasing shade-grown cocoa, which can be productive for as much as 15 years longer than plants grown in full sun.
 
Shareholder Engagement

Socially Responsible Investors Back Anti-Gun Resolution l Financial Advisor

  • Institutional investors aligned with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility are calling on companies to fight gun violence by amending corporate policies. A resolution asking gun manufacturers, retailers, and distributors, as well as companies with financial ties to these industries, to help halt gun violence has been signed by 142 institutional investors with $643 billion in investments, the center announced Thursday.
 
Green Bonds

The PRI Examines How ESG Engagement Can Benefit Fixed Income Investors l UN PRI

  • As part of the PRI’s commitment to provide further guidance on responsible investment practices in specific asset classes, this week it launched ESG Engagement for Fixed Income Investors: Managing Risks, Enhancing Returns, which shows that bondholders are increasingly engaging on ESG factors in order to better manage investment risks.

Most Green Bonds go to Alternative Energy Projects l Pensions & Investments

  • MSCI has been tracking green bond issuance since 2014 for the Bloomberg Barclays MSCI Green Bond index. In 2017, almost 90% of green bond issuance funded alternative energy, about 70% funded energy efficiency projects, and around 40% of green bond proceeds were used in pollution prevention.

Green Bonds as Part of an ESG Investing Strategy l Plan Sponsor

  • Reports of ESG investing and new products tend to focus on the equity side of investing, but this article discusses an Insights report from Lazard Asset Management that shares the value in investing in green bonds.
 
Ammunition and Weapon Divestment

BlackRock to Strip Walmart, Other Firearm Sellers From Its ESG Funds l Barron's

  • BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, said it would strip civilian firearm makers and retailers, including Walmart, from its existing ESG exchange-traded funds—and plans to launch several other funds and strategies that take similar steps amid client demand after the mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school ignited a movement to curb gun violence.

Unintentional Investments Raise Red Flags Following Shooting l ValueWalk

  • Last month’s shooting at Florida’s Parkland High School precipitated a national debate on the ownership/support of firearms and how to reduce the risk and severity of future such events, including a movement by investors to divest all holdings in companies that manufacture or sell guns or ammunition. This article describes the challenges with this approach, and ways it can be executed.
 
Investment Manager News

Venture Capital Alliance Invests $45 Million In Puerto Rico's 'Entrepreneurial Ecosystem' l Forbes

  • Launched 23 years ago, before the term “impact investing” existed, The Community Development Venture Capital Alliance injects funds from investors such as the Ford Foundation and Goldman Sachs into low-income communities to create good jobs and boost entrepreneurial capacity while seeking market-rate returns for its investors. The organization currently manages $183 million in investment capital. Traditionally, it has focused on the 50 states, but a year ago, it branched out to Puerto Rico with the launch of its $45 million Puerto Rico Fund for Growth.

BMO GAM Names New Sustainable Investment Co-Heads l Citywire Selector

  • BMO Global Asset Management has named Alice Evans and Claudia Wearmouth as its new co-heads of governance and sustainable investment (GSI). The duo will be jointly responsible for integrating ESG criteria into the asset manager’s investment operations and will also oversee the growth of BMO GAM’s Responsible Funds range.

Guernsey Sets Out Ambition to Be ‘Green Investment’ Leader l International Investment

  • Guernsey Finance is looking to position itself as the leading jurisdiction for green financial services as part of a strategy for the island’s financial services sector with a focus on “green investment.”

Sustainable Investing: How Do We Identify Themes? l Money Marketing

  • Mike Fox, Head of Sustainable Investments and his team at Royal London Asset Management look for themes in sustainable investing by first looking for problems. This short video explains why.
 
General Endowment, Foundation & Pensions News

UGA Foundation Hires Jason Bull as First Investment Officer l Online Athens

  • The University of Georgia Foundation has hired its first chief investment officer. Jason Bull, who had been managing director for Emory University’s $6.9 billion endowment, will become the foundation’s CIO effective April 9, the university announced recently.

Yale Endowment's Casting Call Says ‘All Inquiries Are Welcome!’ l Bloomberg

  • This article discusses the Yale Endowment's annual report, highlighting the endowment's encouragement of investors of all types -- large or small, traditional or nontraditional -- to contact the investments office to pitch investment ideas.

CalPERS Names Beth Richtman Managing Investment Director Of Sustainable Investments l mondovisione

  • The California Public Employees' Retirement System today announced that Beth Richtman has been selected as Managing Investment Director of the Sustainable Investment Program. Richtman, currently an investment manager in the CalPERS Real Assets program, will be transitioning into the new position over the next month.
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment

Students at NYU Are Shouting, Trustees Need to Listen (Opinion) l Washington Square News

  • In this opinion piece, the author describes how and why students at NYU have been consistently protesting for student representation on the Board of Trustees, increased communication and transparency on behalf of the endowment, and full divestment from fossil fuels. 

Fossil Free WashU Rallies for Divestment l Student Life

  • This week, Members of Fossil Free WashU rallied to protest against Washington University’s decision to not divest from fossil fuel companies, asking the administration to reconsider their policy March 30.

Smith College Resists Petition to Fully Divest From Fossil Fuels l Daily Hampshire Gazette

  • This article describe how, in response to student and alumnae activists’ demands, Smith's board again rejected calls to fully divest, reiterating instead its investment committee’s recommendations to increase “impact investments” meant to generate both financial gain and environmental change, to favor certain funds and fund managers that have adopted those same principles, to avoid any future direct holdings in coal and to increase transparency on the endowment’s fossil fuel exposure.

Undergraduate Government of Boston College Calls For Divestment From Fossil Fuels l BC Heights

  • On Tuesday, the Student Assembly (SA) of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College passed a resolution calling upon the University to divest from existing funds in fossil fuel companies within the next five years. It also requests BC to immediately freeze any new or future investment in fossil fuel companies.

Gonzaga University Faculty Senate Votes To Support Fossil Fuel Divestment l Spokane Public Radio

  • Gonzaga’s Faculty Senate voted this week to support a student resolution that asks the university to sell its endowment investments related to fossil fuels. The faculty vote comes after three years of discussion on campus.
 
Calendar of Upcoming Events

 Impact Capitalism Summit 2018 l Big Path Capital, April 17-18, 2018, Chicago, IL

  • This conference will explore how institutional investors are finding market performance returns and better by looking at diversity as a potential source of arbitrage.

Climate Resilient Cities Symposium l EarthX, April 21, 2018, Dallas, TX

  • This half-day program brings together 75 to 100 elected representatives, government officials, and business, foundation and non-profit leaders active in ensuring that cities are proactive in addressing the challenges posed by climate change and in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

Ceres Conference 2018 l Ceres, April 24-26, 2018, Boston, MA

  • This event brings together more than 600 investor and company leaders and advocates, featuring compelling, content-rich sessions, engaging keynotes and valuable networking opportunities for attendees. 

IEN Roundtable: Community Impact Investing l Intentional Endowments Network, June 2018 (Date TBD), 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.

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. 

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.