Weekly News Round-Up: May 26th, 2017

Upcoming Events
 
Impact Capitalism Summit - Nantucket | Big Path Capital, July 19-20, 2017, Nantucket, MA 
  • This Summit will focus on key factors that are changing the impact investing landscape. IEN will be partnering with Big Path, Ceres, and others to host a pre-Summit event focused on opportunities for investing in clean energy and climate solutions.
Webinar: Sustainable Agriculture Investing l Intentional Endowments Network, May 31st, 2017, 1:00 PM EDT
  • Sada Geuss will present on Trillium’s recently released White Paper on Sustainable Agriculture. Other panelists -- Maria Lettini of FAIRR, Don Wiviott of Sustainable Farm Partners, and David Miller of Iroquois Valley Farms -- will explore various aspects of risks and opportunities associated with agriculture investments.  
Webinar: Make a Clean Break: Your Guide to Fossil Fuel Free Investing | Trillium Asset Management, Green Century, 350.orgJune 1, 2017, 1:00 PM ET
  • There are now 1,700 PRI signatories, from over 50 countries, with assets approaching US$62 trillion, committed to incorporating ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making. This webinar will explore how SASB standards can help PRI signatories fulfill their commitments and adhere to the values that undergird the PRI principles.
 
New Resources
 
  • A recent survey conducted by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) found that impact investment assets allocated to the food and agriculture sector had a compound annual growth rate of 32.5% since 2013. Using the Total Portfolio Activation approach, the paper provides a framework to help investors expand the scope of investing in sustainable food systems across common portfolio asset classes such as cash, public equities, and fixed income, as well as alternative asset classes such as private equity, venture capital, and real assets. It is the first of its kind to structure a total portfolio approach thematically around sustainable food and agriculture.

 

 
Opportunities for Education
 
  • IEN is pleased to support The SRI Conference Student Scholarship. The SRI Conference on Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing serves thought leaders, investors, and investment professionals who are actively integrating ESG factor analysis into investment decision-making and seeking to catalyze the shift to a more socially equitable and environmentally sustainable economy. The scholarship was started and is coordinated by a group of First Affirmative Financial Network alumni and longtime affiliates to bring qualified young people to The SRI Conference. Their goal is to insure that the culture, commitment, and competence of the pioneer SRI movement be sustained into the next generation. Applications are accepted through September 11thclick here to apply. Winners are announced in late September.  For questions or additional information on this program, please contact SRIscholarship15@gmail.com
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact and ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how, Following a string of successful proposals at companies including Occidental Petroleum Corp. and PPL Corp., environmentally focused shareholders are hoping this is finally the year they will be able to get a win at Exxon Mobil Corp; The United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment lays out a blueprint for holding investor signatories more accountable; Building a pipeline of diverse tech workers is helped by companies that report the data, says Christina Lewis Halpern of All Star Code; Religious ETFs expand.
TCFD: What it Means for Investors and Companies (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • For the last 18 months financial heavyweights Mark Carney and Michael Bloomberg have been attempting to solve one of responsible investment’s most long-running challenges – how to develop consistent climate-related financial risk disclosures from companies across all sectors, including financial services.This July, the Bloomberg/Carney Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosures (TCFD) will submit its final recommendations to G20 leaders in Hamburg and that report is likely to become a vital part of the global transition to a low carbon economy. This Q&A  with Rick Stathers, Head of Investor Initiatives at CDP, outlines what this will mean for portfolio companies and how this will affect reporting requirements.
Principles for Responsible Investment Outlines Goals for Next 10 Years l Pensions & Investments
  • Principles for Responsible Investment, a global network of investors advocating for sustainable investing supported by the United Nations, outlined its plans to work with asset owners to build a sustainable financial system over the next decade. In its blueprint for sustainable investing, the PRI set out a number of goals intended to empower asset owners and support investors in the integration of environmental, social and governance issues in their investments. The priorities include increasing accountability, convening and educating responsible investors, as well as challenging barriers to a sustainable financial system.
CFA Institute Investigates ESG Investment Gap l Financial Standard
  • The CFA Institute, together with the Principles for Responsible Investment, aim to investigate the remaining barriers in integrating ESG factors in investment strategies via a series of workshops covering North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Asia. Starting in October, workshops of participating analysts and portfolio managers from listed equities and fixed income will discuss best practices, and the challenges faced when incorporating ESG data into investment processes.
Real Estate and the Impact of ESG l The Investor
  • ESG factors are becoming increasingly important investment considerations across the entire investment management landscape. But within the real estate sector, the level of ESG incorporation, and its degree of influence, remains patchy. The latest report from the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) notes that the buildings sector contributes up to 30 percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions . Yet despite property investors showing “a sophisticated use of ESG indicators in their investment strategies,” the proportion that systematically factor ESG issues throughout their investment processes remains relatively low.
Investment Manager News
 
American Impact Investing | New Summit Investments
  • Adam Seitchik lays out a vision for impact investing: "At New Summit, impact investing begins with sustainability, which is a scientific concept. Sustainability is rooted in biology and physics, and describes the limits within which a society can grow and prosper over time.  These limits, when understood and applied, provide an invaluable metric to parse investment activity. We see a world of significant opportunity and commensurate restrictions, each being the mirror of the other.  These constraints can either be gateways to new industries, products and processes or limiting factors to economic prosperity."
  • Wilshire Consulting, the institutional investment advisory and outsourced-CIO (OCIO) business unit of Wilshire Associates, announced that Daniel Ingram has been hired to serve as VP of Responsible Investment Research & Consulting. In this role, Ingram will assist in expanding Wilshire Consulting’s ESG and SRI capabilities. 
ETF Watch: Active Socially Responsible Funds Launch l ETF Watch
  • Legg Mason is rolling out today two ETFs that bring socially responsible investing and active management together—something that’s extremely rare in the ETF space. The funds, the ClearBridge Dividend Strategy ESG ETF and the ClearBridge Large Cap Growth ESG ETF, are listing on the Nasdaq with expense ratios of 0.59%. Both ETFs are subadvised by ClearBridge Investments, a Legg Mason affiliate that has 30 years of experience managing socially responsible investments.
Acadian Asset Management Launches the First Actively Managed Emerging Market Fossil Fuel Free Strategy l Business Wire
  • Acadian Asset Management LLC, a firm overseeing $82 billion in active global and international quantitative assets, announced the launch of a sustainable Emerging Markets ex Fossil Fuel strategy. This strategy is one of the first to focus on implementing this theme across emerging markets.
Morgan Stanley and The Economist Intelligence Unit Release New Index to Support Investment in Inclusive Growth l Business Wire
  • Today the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing announced the Inclusive Growth Opportunities Index, a report and interactive tool for investors to explore technology-based opportunities that support inclusive economic growth – the first in a body of work that the Institute will produce to help drive private capital toward reducing inequality. The Institute, with The Economist Intelligence Unit, developed this first of its kind index to offer investors an analytic tool on inclusive growth across four themes. The Index ranks 20 countries with compelling investment opportunities that enhance access to finance, education and healthcare, and reduce gender disparities. 
Shareholder Engagement
 
Exxon Rebuts Proxy Firms Backing Shareholder Climate Change Resolution (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • Oil major ExxonMobil has issued a detailed response to proxy advisory firms ISS and Glass Lewis after they came out in support of a shareholder resolution on climate change set to be voted on at its AGM later this month – saying they “fail to recognize” that it already does address a 2-degree Celsius scenario in its disclosures. The resolution (12 on the ballot) was filed by New York State Common Retirement Fund and co-filed by the UK’s Church Commissioners.
BlackRock switch helps pass 'historic' climate measure at Occidental | Reuters
  • BlackRock Inc said on Friday that it voted in favor of a successful shareholder proposal calling for more climate change reporting by Occidental Petroleum Corp (OXY.N), in the first sign the world's largest asset manager was backing up its tough new talk on environmental matters. Backers of the resolution called its passage a major victory, the first time such a measure succeeded at a major U.S. oil and gas company.
  • Fidelity Investments may support shareholder proxy proposals calling on companies to report on sustainability matters this year, a major shift by the Boston asset manager as climate activists gain more traction at large U.S. corporations. While Fidelity will generally vote as company managers recommend on environmental or social issues, "Fidelity may support shareholder proposals calling for reports on sustainability, renewable energy and environmental impact issues," states a new section of its proxy voting guidelines.
PPL shareholder vote backs climate change proposal | Corporate Secretary
  • Shareholders of PPL Corporation have asked the utility company to produce reports on how it will be affected by efforts to limit climate change, despite the board of governors opposing such a move. PPL reports that 56.8% of votes, not taking into account abstentions, backed the motion at the company’s recent annual shareholder meeting.


General Higher Education Endowment & Sustainability News
  • A growing number of universities are lowering the rates of return they expect to earn on their endowments, which could be paired with other important decisions on endowment spending policies, investment strategies and fund-raising demands, according to Moody’s Investors Service. More and more universities are dropping their assumed nominal endowment returns to a range of 6 percent to 7 percent, Moody’s said in a report Friday. In the past, universities have typically assumed returns of 8 percent to 9 percent when crafting their spending plans.
Wesleyan’s College of the Environment Receives $4 Million Gift l News at Wesleyan
  • Essel Bailey ’66 believes that science is the foundation for addressing questions of environmental policy, which aptly describes the purpose of Wesleyan’s College of the Environment. Now, he and his wife, Menakka, have increased their support of the COE with a new $4 million commitment to its programs, faculty and students – bringing their total gift to the COE to $7.5 million.
Community Colleges Offer Lessons in Diversifying the Presidency (Opinion) l The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • The Aspen Institute’s goals are laudable and community colleges certainly have much work to do to achieve gender and racial equity in the presidency — but it seems to me the Aspen Institute might focus as well on the four-year colleges and universities, whose achievements toward gender and racial equity in the presidency are far more sparse than that of community colleges. Today, the proportion of community-college presidents who are women and/or people of color is impressive compared to the four-year sector. It would be wise for the Aspen Institute to recognize the history and build upon it.

Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
China, EU and Canada Form Climate Pact as Trump Stands Alone l Bloomberg
  • China, Canada and the European Union are joining forces to advance the Paris Agreement while President Donald Trump is still deciding whether the U.S. should stick with the landmark deal on climate change. Canada’s environment minister Catherine McKenna, EU Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete and China’s special envoy for climate change Xie Zhenhua are meeting Tuesday in Berlin to discuss climate leadership and how to maintain momentum if the U.S. pulls out of the Paris Agreement. In September, the three will convene a ministerial-level meeting in support of the Paris accord, Canete said in an email.
Climate Lab Videos l University of California Climate Investing Initiative
  • In this six part video series follow conservation scientist and UCLA visiting researcher M. Sanjayan as he explores surprising ways to change how we think and act about climate change.
 
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
Harvard Management Company Eschews Fossil Fuel Investments l Chief Investment Officer 
  • Harvard Management Company’s head of natural resources said the university’s $35.7 billion endowment is “pausing” investments in some natural resources, such as fossil fuels. “Never say never—but I doubt that we would ever make a direct investment with fossil fuels,” Colin Butterfield, managing director of natural resources for Harvard Management Company, said at a Harvard Business School event, according to The Harvard Crimson. “For now, we are pausing minerals and oil and gas,” he added. In November, Bloomberg Newsreported that Harvard was seeking to sell natural resources assets after the portfolio lost more than 10% last year. The university was looking to restructure the $4 billion of holdings to free up cash for other investments, according to the report.
Divest BU Asks Alumni to Withhold Donations to University l The Daily Free Press
  • Divest BU is asking Boston University alumni to withhold their donations from BU until the school completely divests from the fossil fuel industry, according to the social media campaign the group launched Thursday. The group hopes the new plan will halt the flow of funds to the university and force the Board of Trustees to fully divest from oil and gas companies, Divest BU’s head of campus engagement Ivan Badanjak said.
Queen's University Belfast Announces New Responsible Investment Policy l Queen's University Belfast
  • Queen’s University Belfast has reinforced its commitment to environmental sustainability by joining other universities across the globe in aspiring to divest from fossil fuels. Following discussions with the Students’ Union, the University has updated its investment policy and will, subject to no detrimental impact on expected investment returns, seek to divest from companies involved in the extraction and production of fossil fuels by 2025.