Weekly News Round-Up: May 17, 2019

If you missed this week’s IEN webinar, you can watch the recording here to learn about a new framework for linking business practices to long-term sustainability goals, the Future-Fit Business Benchmark. And join us on May 30 at 1pm EDT for our next peer learning webinar, Building a Just Transition - Investing in Infrastructure that Supports People and Planet, which will feature the experiences of IEN members Sierra Club Foundation and Greenbacker Capital.

Also coming soon: the IEN Member Directory!  We will be releasing a contact directory for IEN members on Friday, June 21st. As a network, we are built on a foundation of trust. The directory will be made available only to Network members and is not intended for mass emailing or distribution beyond the network. Learn more about membership here.

IEN in the News

Student Conference for Corporate Responsibility - Reflections & Next Steps | Intentional Endowments Network

  • This blog post recaps the recent peer learning and action planning conference that launched a Student Coalition for Corporate Responsibility. Led by students at the Dwight Hall SRI Fund at Yale University, and supported by the SIILK Network, the SCCR is a coalition dedicated to shareholder advocacy. The SCCR brings student-led investment funds from around the country together to coordinate shareholder engagement initiatives designed to make companies more socially responsible.
 

Opportunities for Action

ESG Survey | Callan

  • Deadline: May 21. Callan is conducting a survey to assess U.S. institutional fund sponsors’ perceptions of ESG investment factors, seeking input both from investors who have and have not incorporated these types of factors into their investment decision-making. This survey is intended for U.S.-based asset owners (sponsors of defined benefit and defined contribution plans; endowments; foundations; Taft-Hartley plans; and other institutional investors), and should be completed by individuals with influence over the investment decision-making process, including board members, trustees, and fund/plan staff.
  • Deadline: July 8. This scholarship was started and is coordinated by a group of First Affirmative Financial Network emeriti and longtime affiliates to bring young people to The SRI Conference. Winners will be announced in late September. For questions or additional information on this program, please contact SRIscholarship15@gmail.com, and to apply, follow the link above.

Survey: What is the standing of the sustainable finance & ESG community within the wider investment world? | Sustainable Finance Network and Responsible Investor

  • Deadline: June 21. The Sustainable Finance Network has teamed up with Responsible Investor to run a fully anonymous survey on how sustainable finance professionals are being valued. Survey should take 5-7 minutes to complete. Research findings to follow.

2019 Proxy Memos and Exempt Solicitations | Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

Proxy Voting Guidebook 2019 | Ceres

Sign-on Opportunities

 

New Resources & Reports

IRIS+ | Global Impact Investing Network

  • This week, the GIIN launched IRIS+, a comprehensive system for impact investors to measure, manage and optimize their impact. With the industry’s rapid growth and increased calls for precise tools, investors are eager for streamlined practical guidance on how to measure and manage their impact. IRIS+ gives investors an easy-to-use system, including sets of core metrics around certain key themes such as clean energy access, financial inclusion, health, and affordable housing.
 

 

Sustainable Investing By Institutional Asset Owners

Assessing Mission-Aligned Investment Efforts: Progress and Challenges | Rockefeller Brothers Fund

  • IEN member the Rockefeller Brothers Fund shares progress on measuring its mission-aligned investments’ impact against metrics aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as a review of proxy voting activity to advance ESG goals.

"Hard Dollars in Cleveland." A Community Foundation Ramps up its Impact Investing | Inside Philanthropy

  • The Cleveland Foundation is expanding its investments in four ways: MRIs, recoverable grants, PRIs and the creation of a socially responsible investment (SRI) pool that screens public equities for social and environmental responsibility, gender diversity and a place-based emphasis on Cleveland.

Four Nordic Pension Plans Commit $700 Million to Renewable Energy | Chief Investment Officer

  • Three Danish pension funds and one Norwegian plan have invested $700 million in a renewable energy infrastructure fund. The funds will focus their ESG efforts on mostly Asian and Latin American infrastructure projects. They are pooling their ESG investments in a new vehicle to manage the money, the Copenhagen Infrastructure New Markets Fund I portfolio.

UK Public Pension Pool Allocates $60m to Private Equity Impact Fund | IPE

  • Brunel Pension Partnership has made a cornerstone $60m commitment to a private equity impact fund on behalf of four of its UK local government pension scheme (LGPS) clients. The Neuberger Berman Private Equity Impact Fund is described as “ground breaking in seeking attractive financial returns in lockstep with positive social and environmental impact, having identified investable themes that can map to 15 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
 

Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

CFA UK to Introduce ESG Investing Qualification | Investment Week

  • CFA UK is set to launch a new qualification in ESG investing for investment professionals later this year, recognised and supported by the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). The new Certificate in ESG Investing will be the first formal qualification on ESG investing available sector-wide to investment professionals in the UK. Its launch is a response to the surge of interest in ESG investing over the past few years and aims to provide investors with better education, guidance and standards around the subject.

Greedy VC Doesn't Pay: But Impact Does | Forbes

  • Interview based on a recent report from Kapor Capital, showing that its portfolio of 102 companies, led by over 50% women and people of color, that focused on addressing educational inequity, climate change, quality job creation for formerly incarcerated people, alternatives to predatory loans, and other critical interventions made more money than peer funds who sought to solely pursue profit.

Why Sustainable Investing Is the Best Job Ever | Eco-Business

  • Reflections on a sustainable investing professional’s path, and the reasons why a career path in sustainable investing is satisfying: finding purpose, connecting with nature, understanding risk, rethinking world views, and supporting personal sustainability.

Missing the Forest for The Trees: Can Impact Investing Shift Its Focus to Where the Big Money Lives? | Forbes

  • President & CEO of Calvert Impact Capital Jennifer Pryce argues that the newly launched Operating Principles for Impact are helping to provide transparency into impact investors' commitment to impact - and that impact investing can’t center around moving hundreds of millions from a small group of investors. We have to move trillions to create systemic change in our financial systems and that means access to impact funds and products must be a driving concern, rather than an afterthought.  If it's not, the troubling gap between investor interest and action that we see across the industry will remain.

Impact Investors Fail to Measure Negative Outcomes | Financial Times

  • In this opinion piece, Toniic CEO Adam Bendell argues that impact investors need to measure “positive net impact.” Unless we measure and manage the negative along with the positive, we cannot be sure we are achieving our intended net societal and environmental benefits, nor can we take corrective action.

Socially Responsible Investing Movement Is Hot and There Are No Signs of It Cooling Off | CNBC

  • There is now more than $12 trillion invested in socially responsible ways. Nearly every S&P 500 firm now issues a sustainability report. Yet businesses are not celebrating their social impact — even though many have embraced corporate social responsibility practices. SRI is on the rise is because investors are realizing they can have a say in and align with an organization’s mission.

Investors Worldwide Support ESG Investing, but Still Want Performance | InvestmentNews

  • Worldwide investor demand for ESG investing is strong, according to a survey conducted by Natixis Investment Management, with 76% of individual investors globally and 71% of U.S. investors saying it is important to have the ability to invest according to personal values and ethical requirements. The survey, which polled 12,375 individual investors, financial advisers and institutions around the world, found that 60% of investors globally and 48% in the U.S., say they actively seek out investment opportunities that align with their personal values.
 

Shareholder Engagement

New Strategies Help Investors Hold Corporations Accountable on Human Rights | OpenGlobalRights

  • Co-founder of Yourstake.org and former co-head of a SIILK Network member student-managed SRI fund at Yale, Gabe Rissman describes how shareholders can be supported to use their influence to influence companies to improve their human rights records.

'Unprecedented': Leading BP Investors, Holding £10bn in Shares, Back Climate Resolution | Business Green

  • Fifty-eight investors acting as part of the Climate Action 100+ initiative, owning just under 10 percent of BP voting shares between them, which they claim marks the highest proportion of support yet received for a shareholder resolution calling for climate action at a major corporate, have co-filed a resolution urging the company to set out a business strategy consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. BP's board has already said it will support the resolution at this year's AGM, which takes place May 21.

Heating up: Investors' Green Targets Go Beyond Oil Patch | ABC News

  • It's not just big oil and power companies that investors are pushing to do better on the environment. Shareholder proposals related to fossil fuels, greenhouse gas emissions, and deforestation are going before companies including Amazon, Ross Stores, Yum Brands, and more. Not only have investors cast a wider net for companies, they also are pushing companies to set specific goals for measuring environmental impact.

Passive & ESG Investing Shake Up Investor Relations | CFO Magazine

  • Passive investment firms like BlackRock, Vanguard, and SSGA collectively manage trillions of dollars of assets and are by definition long-term investors. In addition, in 2018 ESG investments reached the $20 trillion mark, or roughly one-fourth of all investment in global equities. These investors are collectively becoming more vocal about the information they want from the public companies they own. This increased thirst comes amid significant technological disruption, globalization, climate change, a generational shift in the workforce, and ESG issues.

Vanguard Handing off Proxy Voting to Subadvisers | Pensions & Investments

  • The decision marks a move away from Vanguard's previous protocol, in which all proxy voting for its funds was administered centrally by its investment stewardship team. By the end of 2019, Vanguard expects to complete the transition of proxy voting responsibilities for its externally managed funds. In migrating voting power to its subadvisers, Vanguard seeks to better integrate the investment management process for each fund with the proxy voting and engagement work subadvisers already do with portfolio companies.
 

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Viewpoint: Building a Diverse Pipeline of Talent Begins with Community | Boston Business Journal

  • IEN steering committee member Robert Johnson, Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and UMass Trustee Imari Paris Jeffries share lessons from the UMass system’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative. They argue that if we are intentional in our action, we will see a more diverse economic ecosystem capable of attracting and retaining more talent.

Fewer Women in VC Firms = Lower Returns from Diverse Investment Teams | Sociable

  • According to the Women in Corporate Venture Report 2019, venture capital funds with women managing partners across Canada and the US got only 10% of all dollars invested in in 2018. The other 90% went to all-male funds. This makes sense seeing that only 13.5% of all partners at US/Canadian venture capital firms are women, and only 8.9% of women are in managing partner roles. The report by Highline BETA looked at 4,500 team members in over 300 venture capital firms in the US and Canada, as well as active corporate venture funds, groups or teams.
 

Investment Firm News

ESG and Sustainable Investing: An Accelerating Trend | Alternative Investment Group

  • This white paper from IEN member Alternative Investment Group looks at how ESG and sustainable investing strategies can be employed by hedge funds.

(Watch) Trillium CEO Patsky on ESG Investing, Tesla Sustainability Report | Bloomberg

  • IEN member Trillium Asset Management ‘s chief executive officer discusses sustainable investing and his views on Tesla Inc. with Bloomberg's Carol Massar on "Bloomberg Technology."

Calvert Expands in Shareholder Activism, Hires Director | Investor Daily

  • Eaton Vance subsidiary Calvert Research and Management has hired a new vice president and director of corporate engagement, a newly-formed role made to cater for growing interest in responsible investing.

Investors Back AIIB's Debut Global Bond Issue with $2.5bn | IPE Real Assets

  • Global investors have backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to raise $2.5bn (€2.23bn) via bonds for infrastructure investment. The five-year bond was backed by central banks, fund manager, insurers and pension schemes and will be used for sustainable infrastructure investing, developing cross-border connectivity, and promoting ESG investing in emerging Asia.

iShares Advances ESG Lineup with Over $800 Million Investment from Ilmarinen | Business Wire

  • iShares ESG MSCI USA Leaders ETF launched yesterday with more than $800 million in investment from Ilmarinen, Finland’s largest pension insurance company. Ilmarinen is making this investment by moving assets from its S&P 500 equity exposure into SUSL, a strategy that offers exposure to the top ESG performers within a broad U.S. equity solution.

Moody's Developing New Rating System to Assess Companies' "Carbon Risks" | Axios

  • Brief summary of news that Moody’s is creating a "framework to assess carbon risks." Individual companies will be given a carbon transition assessment, or CTA, which measures how well they'll be able to operate in a low-carbon economy.
 

Economic & Policy Shifts

University of Oregon, OHSU Withdraw from Industry Group Opposing Gov. Kate Brown’s Climate Agenda | The Oregonian

  • The University of Oregon and Oregon Health and Science University have withdrawn from an energy industry lobbying group opposing Gov. Kate Brown’s climate change agenda. The nonprofit Alliance of Western Energy Consumers still counts as members companies including Microsoft and Intel, which have taken prominent public stands on the need to address climate change.

To Galvanize Graduates in US, 'Class of 0000' Campaign Demands Zero Emissions and Zero Excuses From Lawmakers | Common Dreams

  • A new youth-led campaign in the U.S. is set to deliver a message to commencements nationwide—at colleges, high schools, and potentially lower grades as well—that this generation of outgoing students is demanding immediate action to end the fossil fuel energy system which threatens civilization as we know it. Taking its name from its call for "zero emissions" and "zero excuses" from politicians, the "Class of 0000" project is supported by grassroots groups including the Alliance for Climate Education, Sunrise Movement, Earth Guardians, Zero Hour, and iMatter.

How Real Estate Is Adjusting to Our Changing Moral Compass | Propmodo

  • This piece looks at how ESG considerations can impact the value and prestige of a property or a company, as it pertains to tenant and capital attraction. Although most of the onus on ESG within the real estate industry is landlord-driven, there is an increase in the number of initiatives where both the landlord and tenant are engaged in reaching environmental and sustainability goals by way of collaboration.
 

 

Climate Risk, Science, and Clean Energy

Stalling on Climate Change Action May Cost Investors Over $1 Trillion | Bloomberg

  • Delays in tackling climate change could cost companies about $1.2 trillion worldwide during the next 15 years, according to the UN. A UN Environment Finance Initiative project brought together 20 global fund managers to measure the impact of climate change on 30,000 of the largest listed companies and create a guide for investors to assess how their holdings would respond to different levels of global warming and policy making.

The Scientific Narrative About the Climate and Biosphere Is Mostly Useless | Medium

  • Environmental scientist and former president of Unity College Stephen Mulkey argues that to address the root causes of climate and biosphere disruption, we must focus on “downscaling,” connections between people and to nature, community action, and building a new and healthy economy based on a sense of place.

U.S. Solar Hits 2 million Installations, Will Double in Four Years | Reuters

  • Solar energy has boomed in the United States over the last decade thanks to rapidly falling prices on the technology, state mandates that require utilities to source large amounts of renewable energy and a federal tax credit worth 30 percent of the cost of a system. Solar is now a $17 billion industry, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Making America Carbon Neutral Could Cost $1 Trillion a Year | Bloomberg Businessweek

  • Cleaning up U.S. industries may require investments amounting to more than $1 trillion annually by 2050, according to the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, a global collaboration of energy research teams led by the Paris-based Institute for Sustainable Development & International Relations and the United Nations-backed Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Mercedes-Benz's Aggressive Climate Pledge: All Cars Will Be Carbon-neutral by 2039 |CNN

  • Mercedes-Benz pledged to make its new passenger car fleet carbon-neutral within two decades, an ambitious goal built on electric vehicles and renewable energy. The target was described as a "fundamental transformation of our company," which will slash its carbon footprint by building far fewer combustion engines. By 2030, the German manufacturer aims to have all-electric models and hybrids make up more than half of its total car sales, and plans to lean on wind power and other forms of clean energy to make its vast manufacturing operations cleaner.

Louisiana Unveils Ambitious Plan to Help People Get Out of the Way of Climate Change | Bloomberg

  • This visual story looks at a report from Louisiana’s Office of Community Development on flooding risk and strategies for high-risk areas to “transition away from permanent residential development.” For those residents and structures that remain, the report urges local officials to impose stronger building codes and stormwater management systems. And it proposes “floating services such as medical facilities, schools, and groceries to serve people in coastal areas.”

Lenders Scolded for Climate Ignorance in ‘Insane’ Florida Real Estate Deals | Bloomberg

  • Despite recent extreme weather and other evidence of climate change threatening significant infrastructure damage, investors are still buying up long-dated debt and financing real estate decades into the future in at-risk areas. That kind of market neglect means the Florida economy can be expected to “go to hell,” warned Spencer Glendon, a senior fellow at the Woods Hole Research Center and a former partner and director of investment research at Wellington Management.

Take Note, Capitalists: Green Energy Is Where the Growth Is | Bloomberg

  • This opinion piece argues that there are signs of change, with capital moving to green energy and away from an economy build on fossil fuels.

With Renewables so Competitive, Big Plans for Oil and Gas Investments Look Risky | Desmog Blog

  • This blog reflects on the issues raised in “Pipeline Bubble,” a new report from Global Energy Monitor, a fossil fuel and alternative energy research network, detailing a planned boom in new oil and gas pipeline infrastructure in North America. The report notes that the industry is currently planning $232 billion in new investment in oil and gas pipeline infrastructure - but building and using this fossil fuel infrastructure for the next four decades is incompatible with current climate goals.

Midwest Flooding Exposes Another Oil Pipeline Risk — on Keystone XL’s Route | InsideClimate News

  • Rushing rivers have exposed once-buried pipelines before, leading to oil spills. With climate change exacerbating flood risks, Keystone XL critics see dangers ahead.
 
 

General Higher Education Endowment News

All Too Rare: A Gift Underscores a Persistent Lack of Support for Community Colleges | Inside Philanthropy

  • While colleges and universities raised a staggering $43.6 billion in 2017, only 1.5 percent of charitable gift dollars raised by educational institutions went to two-year institutions, despite the fact that community colleges serve 49.2 percent of the country’s college students.

Harvard Investment Fund Leader Receives $5.5m Bonus | Boston Globe

  • The head of Harvard University's investment arm, N.P. “Narv” Narvekar, who was brought in to overhaul the troubled $29 billion college endowment, received $9.25 million in 2017.

University of Michigan Endowment Adds to $340 million in Overseas Commitments | Crain’s Detroit Business

  • University of Michigan's endowment plans to add money to six private funds that invest outside of the U.S. after committing up to $340 million to them since November. Michigan and other endowments and pensions have continued to pile into private markets. Almost half of UM's fund is invested in illiquid alternatives such as venture capital and private equity. The $12.2 billion fund has its largest allocation in equities at 21 percent, followed by venture capital at 16 percent.

Willamette University Revenue Slump Puts Pressure on Endowment Fund | Statesman Journal

  • Willamette University's revenues have fallen short of expenses in recent years by millions of dollars annually, tax filings show. But the shift in the university's financial picture doesn't mean it's in a downward spiral or facing insolvency. School officials say the university is on a sustainable path forward with its endowment fund still growing. The declining revenues for Willamette University reflect a change in fortunes and broader challenges facing liberal arts schools nationwide.
 

 

General Higher Education Sustainability News

University of Dayton to Launch Bachelor's Degrees in Sustainability | University of Dayton

  • IEN member University of Dayton’s board of trustees approved bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees in sustainability, which students can start in August 2019. According to a 2017 report published by the Environmental Defense Fund and Climate Corps, the number of sustainability jobs has increased by about 1 million in the last six years.
 

Fossil Fuel Divestment

The World’s Richest Institutions Invest in Fossil Fuels. Activists Are Changing That. | Vox

  • This in-depth look at the fossil fuel divestment movement explains its history, key milestones, and importance within the global effort to address the climate crisis.

State Senate Finance Chair Debunks Pro-Fossil Fuel Report On Divestment | New York State Senate

  • State Senator Liz Krueger, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, debunked a pro-fossil fuel report commissioned by the Suffolk Association of Municipal Employees, prepared by Florida-based firm Foster & Foster. The report, titled "The Cost of Divestment," compares a list of five fossil fuel-based mutual funds with five carefully selected green energy funds. The State Senator points out the erroneous basic assumptions that lead to its flawed conclusions.

Members of the Syracuse Common Council Endorse Fossil Fuel Divestment Act | Urban CNY

  • Syracuse Councilors announced the city’s support for the FFDA and challenged other NY mayors and elected officials to join them in supporting divesting the $200 billion state Common Retirement Fund from coal, oil and gas companies. Further the officials stated their intention to screen out fossil fuel investments from the city’s internal funds.

Commentary: Time for the University of Vermont to Divest from Fossil Fuels | VT Digger

  • A student argues for the University of Vermont to divest its $400 million endowment fully from fossil fuels, in line with the school’s advocacy for and dedication to protecting Vermont’s natural resources.

Christ’s College Council to Reopen Divestment Discussion | Varsity

  • Christ’s College (UK), which rejected a divestment proposal in November 2018, holds over £1 million in direct investments in the oil and gas exploration industries. The College Council has decided to reopen discussion regarding the divestment of the College’s endowment from fossil fuels.
 

Calendar of Upcoming Events

IEN Events:

IEN Webinar: Building a Just Transition - Investing in Infrastructure that Supports People and Planet, Intentional Endowments Network, May 30, 2019 1-2pm EDT (webinar)

Community Impact Investing Roundtable 2019 | Intentional Endowments Network, September 6, 2019, Berkeley, CA

Other Events:

From Brussels to the Bay: Sustainable Finance in the EU and California | UC Berkeley School of Law, May 23, 2019, 1:30 - 4:30 pm PDT, Berkeley, CA

9th Annual Conference: New Challenges New Opportunities | US SIF, June 10-12, 2019, Minneapolis, MN (Note: the conference hotel room block closes TODAY, May 17 - register and book now for the best rates)

How Technology is Impacting Shareholder Engagement | Broadridge, June 11, 2019, 1-3pm EDT (webinar)

Spectrum: Access, Inclusion, Impact | SOCAP and Conscious Company Media, June 12-13, 2019, Atlanta, GA

OCIO Solutions Summit | Investment Management Institute, June 12, 2019, Stamford, CT, Interested members should contact Kaede Kawauchi to access the following member discounts:

  • IEN endowment members - Room and board will be covered, $350 registration fee (80% off the original price), Opportunity to speak on a panel
  • IEN asset manager members - $200 off the original price

2019 Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium Conference: Trends in Northeast Sustainability Challenges | University of Southern Maine, June 17-18, 2019, Portland, ME

2nd Annual Advisors Forum | Confluence Philanthropy, June 24-25, 2019, San Francisco, CA, Member pricing available for IEN members.

CDP Matchmaker Workshop: Accelerating Green Infrastructure Investments in Cities | CDP, June 25, 2019, Parma, OH

GIIN Investor Forum | GIIN, October 2-3, 2019, Amsterdam, Netherlands

2019 AASHE Conference & Expo: Co-Creating a Sustainable Economy | AASHE, October 27-30, 2019, Spokane, WA

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