Weekly News Round-Up: May 25th, 2018

 
Weekly News Round-Up: May 25th, 2018

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

We still have a few spots available for asset owners at our upcoming Community Impact Investing Roundtable on June 11th at The Boston Foundation -- register here. (Please note that at this time only asset owner seats are available.)

Also, in case you missed it, follow these links to view recordings for this month's IEN webinars on An Overview of The Impact Management Project and The Importance of ESG Data & Corporate Engagement. 

Have a great weekend,

Nicole

Program Manager
The Intentional Endowments Network

 
 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 Initiatives

Investor Alliance for Human Rights Launch I ICCR

  • This week, at an event held at Bloomberg, LP, the Investor Alliance for Human Rights, a new initiative designed to empower collective investor action on business and human rights, was launched. Convened by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), the Alliance will coordinate investor action on priority human rights and business issues -- engaging corporations, state actors, and international organizations to ensure greater corporate respect for human rights. The learn more about this work, check out IEN's webinar on The Investor Case For Human Rights.

 

Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance

  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how newly minted social and sustainable bonds aren't making much of a return; Tariffs are taking a significant toll on solar imports; and Al Gore talks about the sustainability revolution.

Source Materiality: How to Approach ESG Material Disclosure l Green Biz

  • This article highlights The World Business Council for Sustainable Development's (WBCSD) recently released white paper focused on materiality in the food and agriculture sector specifically. The general idea behind the paper is that more effective application of the concept of materiality in the food and agriculture sector will lead to decision-useful information passing between companies and investors, leading to decisions and actions that take into account the full array of possibilities — including ESG issues.

Private Dept and Impact Investors l All About Alpha

  • A new study by the Symbiotics and GIIN research teams looks at private debt impact funds (PDIFs). The researchers found that the sample group (50 funds that meet the inclusion criteria and participated in the survey) have the following three important characteristics: they offer stable returns; allow for a range of risk-return strategies; and they have valuable real-world impacts such as “increased access to basic services like health and education to promotion of entrepreneurship and employment.”

Impact Investing and Dividends — Just One Combo That Uncovers Rare Alpha l Market Watch

  • This article highlights how, according to analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the path to enhanced returns lies through combining socially responsible and impact investing with another factor, such as dividend yield or value, and alpha from such a combination comes from the fact that stocks with high ESG scores have overall low correlation to other quant factors, such as high dividend yield, earnings yield or earnings momentum.

One Key To Impact Investing: Start Big l Forbes

  • This article contains an interview with Robert Rubinstein, founder and chairman of the TBLI Group, who has been advocating for sustainable, responsible or impact investing since the mid-1990s. 

Investors ‘Have Been Hijacked’ over ESG Integration: Danske Bank, Invesco l Investments & Pensions Europe

  • Investment professionals from Danske Bank and Invesco Asset Management argued in a newly published paper that the widespread and varied use of the term ‘ESG integration’ was making it increasingly difficult to know what that term really meant. “When ESG integration is disconnected from the investment process – when it is hijacked by screening, scoring, overlaying, filtering or any other form of framework or tool – something vital is lost in translation,” the authors said.

How Passive and Sustainable Investing Can Intersect l Morningstar

  • This interview with Morningstar's Director of Sustainable Investing, Jon Hale, highlights Morningstar's recently published survey of the passive sustainable investing landscape and what is happening in that space.
 
Sustainable Investing at Endowments, Foundations & Pensions

Harvard Overseer Resigns In Protest Over University Endowment, Fossil Fuel Investments l Huffington Post

  • A member of one of Harvard University’s governing bodies resigned Tuesday over ethical concerns surrounding the school’s multibillion-dollar endowment, including investments in fossil fuels. With just one day left on her six-year term on Harvard’s Board of Overseers, Kathryn A. Taylor resigned in protest over what she described as the university’s failure to adopt ethical commitments tied to its endowment, according to a letter she sent on Tuesday to the university’s leadership, including incoming president Lawrence S. Bacow.

Forget Golf. Women’s Endowment Roles Can Lead to the Boardroom l Bloomberg

  • This article highlights how woman leadership on endowment boards leads to an increase in investment performance, and how the connections that are made on these boards frequently lead to seats on lucrative corporate boards. 

Pension Funds are Making Good Progress With ESG, Says Brunel CEO l Pensions and Investments

  • In this article, the £29bn Brunel Pension Partnership’s chief executive Dawn Turner discusses how pension funds are making good progress when it comes to responsible investment.
 
Shareholder Engagement

Monster Beverage Shareholders to Vote on Concerns Over Slavery and Human Trafficking in its Supply Chain l As You Sow

  • Shareholders of Monster Beverage Corporation will vote at the annual meeting June 7 on shareholder proposal #4 asking Monster to report on slavery and human trafficking in its supply chain. In October 2016, KnowtheChain report gave Monster a score of 0 (zero), coming in dead last among peers, indicating a severe lack of accountability in its supply chain with significant risk for slavery and human trafficking.

ESG Investors Rumble Into The Fight Over ANWR l Forbes

  • In a letter made public on May 14, activist institutional investors that manage more than $2.5 trillion in assets urged oil and gas companies to avoid drilling in the Refuge, claiming that companies who do so face “enormous reputational risk and public backlash," which is not an invalid point.  Some companies, like Shell, who have attempted to drill in other areas in the Alaskan arctic region in recent years, have found themselves on the receiving end of a withering onslaught of negative media attention and seemingly endless administrative and court challenges.

 

 

Fiduciary Duty

ESG Investing Has Little to do With Ethics l Pensions Expert

  • This article highlights how we can no longer say that ESG factors are irrelevant, due to our understanding of the long-term nature of pension scheme investment and the importance of sustainability. The Law Commission's 2014 review of the fiduciary duties of investment intermediaries has helped to clarify the position.

Government Accountability Office Urges Removal Of Roadblocks To ESG Investing In Retirement Plans l Forbes

  • ESG investing roadblocks in retirement plans should be removed, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, urged in a report today. “Asset managers and state and municipal plans using ESG strategies report enhanced risk management and other benefits,” the report said.
 
Community Investing News

Doing Better and Being Better (Opinion) l St. Louis Today

  • In this opinion piece, a former professor at Washington University describes the divide between the university and community and describes potential solutions, including how in Boston, universities with large endowments voluntarily pay into the city’s budget each year by way of a PILOT program — Payment In Lieu of Taxation.

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.
 
Sustainable Development Goals News

The SDGs Are An Opportunity, Not Just A Challenge l Forbes

  • The Sustainable Development Goals present a unique and critical challenge for countries around the world. But they’re also bringing to light some of the biggest investment opportunities in a generation. 

Why Wall Street Needs a WCKD Ticker l Green Biz

  • This article invites readers to imagine a secondary ticker to be applied by governments and stock exchanges to all companies vulnerable to risks associated with so-called "wicked" problems (WCKD), where the direction of travel is indicated as pointed up or down based on the company’s perceived value based on how it is (or isn’t) addressing wicked problems, essentially solving for (or undermining) the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
 

 

Investment Firm News

How this Sustainable Fund is Beating the Market l Yahoo Finance

  • Investing in sustainable companies is helping The Brown Advisory Large-Cap Sustainable Growth fund deliver big returns, but you won’t find windmill and solar panel makers in this portfolio. Under the guidance of co-managers Karina Funk and David Powell, the fund delivered a 28% return in 2017, outperforming the S&P 500 Index’s 19% advance.
 
General Higher Education Endowment News

More Hedge Funds to Renegotiate Fees With University of Texas Endowment l Pensions & Investments

  • The University of Texas Investment Management Co. persuaded about half its hedge funds to renegotiate fees, tying them more closely to performance. The management company, which oversees about $31 billion of endowments for two public universities, said it may save as much as $45 million this year as a result of new fee arrangements. 

The Man For The Moment? l The Crimson

  • This article highlights Harvard's President Faust's legacy, and the challenges and opportunities the University President-elect Lawrence S. Bacow will face.

Reed Introduces Bill To Encourage College Endowment Spending l Post Journal

  • U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, has introduced a new bill to persuade several colleges and universities with billions in endowment funds to spend more on its students. The New York Congressman introduced new legislation in the House of Representatives that would waive the new tax on wealthy college endowments if they spend 25 percent of their annual investment earnings on reducing the cost for middle-income students. 
 
  
Fossil Fuel Divestment

Hit Fossil Fuels Where It Hurts – the Bottom Line l Rolling Stone

  • In this opinion piece by Bill McKibben, he highlights the history of the fossil fuel divestment movement, and argues that the New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli needs to be a leader and divest the state’s $200 billion in pension funds from fossil fuels as New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo has demanded, and like New York City's comptroller, Scott Stringer has.

Cambridge Students Occupy Central Administrative Building Ahead of Divestment Decision l The Varsity

  • Students have occupied a key Cambridge University administrative building housing several key administrative offices in their latest push for the University to divest fully from fossil fuels.

Everything You Need to Know About the Divestment Debate At Cambridge l The Varsity

  • This article outlines the history of the Cambridge University fossil fuel divestment movement, which started three years ago when the Cambridge Zero Carbon Society launched its divestment campaign.
 
Calendar of Upcoming Events

Launch Event for FAIRR’s Protein Producer Index l Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR), May 30, 2018, 5:00 p.m. ET

  • Join FAIRR for the launch of their new Protein Producer Index, the world’s first comprehensive assessment of how 60 of the largest global intensive livestock and fish farming companies (with a combined market cap of $300 billion) are managing critical ESG risks facing the sector: from GHG emissions, deforestation and biodiversity to working conditions and animal welfare.

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.

US SIF Annual Conference l US SIF, May 30 - June 1, 2018, Washington DC

The Energy Fair l MREA, June 15-17, 2018, Custer, WI

Global Climate Action Summit l Global Climate Action SummitSeptember 12-14, 2018, San Francisco, CA

PRI In Person l Principles for Responsible Investment, September 12-14, 2018, San Francisco, CA

2018 Investing for Impact Symposium | High Water Women, October 17, 2018, New York, NY

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

2019 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit | February 10-12, 2019, Tempe, AZ