Weekly News Round-Up: May 31, 2019

This has been a short week after observing Memorial Day on Monday, but the IEN team has been busy welcoming interns for the summer and supporting members to share lessons and resources across the network. If you missed yesterday’s discussion on “Building a Just Transition - Investing in Infrastructure that Supports People and Planet,” you can watch the webinar recording here.

New IEN Members

Bethune-Cookman University

 

Opportunities for Action

ESG Survey | Callan

  • Deadline Extended! 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 and should be completed by individuals with influence over the investment decision-making process.

SRI Conference Student Scholarship l FAFN Emeriti

  • 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

Anchor Collaboratives: Building Bridges With Place-Based Partnerships and Anchor Institutions | Democracy Collaborative

  • For endowments interested in community impact investing, this new report outlines how “anchor institutions” like universities are partnering with others to strengthen local economic ecosystems by more intentionally aligning and leveraging their significant everyday business activities in local hiring and purchasing, place-based investing and community wealth building practices to create jobs, increase incomes, build community/local/broadly held wealth, and spur community investments to redress systemic inequities

Internal Carbon Pricing in Higher Education Toolkit | Second Nature

  • Pricing carbon is one instrument schools can use to advance climate solutions. This toolkit provides recommendations, examples, and tools to guide schools through the process of exploring, designing, and implementing a carbon price on campus.
 

 

Sustainable Investing By Institutional Asset Owners

UNH Expands Sustainability Leadership with Alignment of Investments and Values | University of New Hampshire

  • IEN Member the University of New Hampshire Foundation has recently completed the transition of 16 percent of its investable assets—$37 million­—into ESG-qualified investments. The Foundation, which manages the university’s $225 million in endowed funds, has made a concerted effort over the past two years to bolster the ESG portion of the endowment and the university’s sustainable investing focus more broadly. UNH has also dedicated $5 million to community impact investing with investments in the NH Community Loan Fund (NHCLF). To learn more about UNH’s sustainable investing work, click here.

2018 Responsible Investing Report: A Closer Look | University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation

  • IEN Member University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation describes how they consider ESG factors in their investment analysis and decision-making processes as they manage the University of Toronto’s Endowment, Pension and short-term working capital assets. New additions to this year’s report include a case study featuring one of their investment managers, a detailed analysis of their proxy voting activities, and a timeline of their responsible investing journey.

Museums Can Make a Statement through Sustainable Investing | Artsy

  • This piece makes the case for museums to leverage their financial power—over $30 billion of capital in their endowments, according to data provided by Candid—to invest in companies that have positive environmental and social impacts.

Temasek’s Philanthropy Arm Sets up Asia-focused Private Equity Fund for Impact Investing | Business Times

  • TEMASEK Trust, the philanthropic arm of investment company Temasek Holdings, has established ABC World Asia, a private equity fund dedicated to impact investing. The fund will invest in companies that demonstrate commitment towards impact, primarily in South Asia, South-east Asia and China, and focus on themes such as financial and digital inclusion, better health and education, climate and water solutions, sustainable food and agriculture, and smart and liveable cities.
 

Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

More Managers Adding ESG Positions to Meet Demand | Pensions & Investments

  • (Subscription required) Increased client demand is creating an uptick of managers establishing new roles dedicated to ESG within their organizations. Recruiters and investment firms discuss the inflection point that has been reached in the last couple of years in the US, with institutional investors now expecting ESG capability in their money managers.

Q&A with Harvard’s George Serafeim: The Link Between Corporate Governance and Environmental and Social Impact | Impact Alpha

  • In this interview, Harvard Business School professor George Serafeim lays out the three deficits that hinder corporate sustainability efforts, the three stages of corporate organizational maturity around such issues and the three obstacles to corporate transformation.

This Hedge Fund Superstar Thinks Climate Change Will Impact All Your Investments—And Soon | Forbes

  • This piece profiles Robert Gibbins, founder of Autonomy Capital ($5.5 billion in assets), who argues that “Climate change is something we have to include in every single analysis, every investment.”

Insider perspective: CFA Institute Annual Conference | World Business Council for Sustainable Development

  • WBCSD reflects on last week’s CFA Institute conference; while the conference focused largely on technological and geopolitical disruption, the need for investment managers to take better account of environmental, social and governance (ESG) challenges was also a key theme.

ESG Investing Faces Sustainability Test | Reuters

  • Funds that take account of ESG factors when deploying capital have already sucked up more than $1 trillion to date. More of them are becoming activist investors, too. Along with support from politicians and younger investors, such broad interest from fund houses should ensure further growth. But the sector’s success could create new problems. Breakingviews offers a guide through the ethical maze.

How to Ensure ESG Investing Isn’t Whitewash | U.S. News & World Report

  • As funds move from simple strategies like avoiding tobacco and firearms to produce risk-adjusted returns to more complex strategies that aim for a positive social impact, individual investors need to do more work to ensure their holdings are appropriate.

Scaling Impact Investing To Trillions | Forbes

  • This opinion piece argues for a systematic approach to product innovation that can open up the floodgates for early adopters across the institutional investment community to allocate the billions to trillions needed to achieve the SDGs.

Many Institutional Investors Confuse ESG with Socially Responsible Investing | Chief Investment Officer

  • This piece summarizes a new white paper from Canadian law firm McCarthy Tétrault and Sustainalytics, which argues that ESG is often confused with socially responsible investing (SRI) by institutional investors. The paper says the purpose of ESG factor integration is to improve financial performance or mitigate financial risk, not stop climate change, improve workplace diversity, or end child labor.

Corporations Must Help Shape a Better World – Or Risk Being Left Behind | European Sting

  • The question of holistic corporate governance is primarily a question about sustainability and social purpose, not just legal compliance. Financial institutions and private investors are increasingly incorporating human rights into the environmental, social and governance standards now influencing investment, adding content to the “S” in ESG.
 

Shareholder Engagement

Investors Rebuke Exxon over Failure to Grapple with Climate-related Risks | Ceres

  • Forty one percent of investors voted to separate ExxonMobil’s board chair from its CEO at the company’s annual general meeting, sending “a strong signal that investors are dissatisfied with the board’s approach, including its approach to managing climate risk.”

Oil Majors Face Shareholder Resolutions on Climate Change | The Economist

  • Investors concerned about climate change have never been better organised, thanks to Climate Action 100+, a coalition with more than $33trn in assets under management. Nor have they ever had more success. (Subscription required)

(Watch) How Climate Change is Transforming the Way South African Companies Do Business | CNBC Africa

  • Experts discuss the first climate-risk related resolution tabled at Standard Bank’s annual general meeting; 61 per cent of shareholders have voted against it. This is not the first South African giant to disagree, as Sasol and Allan Gray have not accepted it in the past as well.
 

Community Impact Investing

An Opportunity for Higher Ed | U.S. News & World Report

  • Opportunity Zones can boost local economies – and give colleges and universities a chance to push for social change. This opinion piece from Impact Experience outlines how colleges and universities can can lead the way in ensuring equitable Opportunity Zone investments are made in the cities and neighborhoods they call home, featuring examples from IEN members Arizona State University and the California State University system.

Opportunity Zones: Can Philanthropy Provide Accountability When the Law Does Not? | Nonprofit Quarterly

  • NPQ has done extensive reporting on opportunity zones over the past couple of years, highlighting the potential problems with the law and the relative vagueness of the guidelines surrounding implementation of the policy and how the funds are spent.
 

Green Bonds

Latest Dutch and Hong Kong Issues Shine a Light on Growing Global Green Bond Market | BNP Paribas Asset Management

  • Two recent, sizeable green bond launches have underscored the appeal, both to issuers and investors, of this growth market to raise funding for green projects as market participants seek to contribute to environmentally sound projects and to a more sustainable economy in general.
 

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Diversity Not a Priority for Asset Managers | Chief Investment Officer

  • Despite increasing demands by investors for more diversity among asset managers, progress in these firms has been slow, according to a survey of over 500 asset managers by Wilshire Associates. The report cited statistics showing that fewer than 200 of 7,000 mutual funds are run by women, and that women accounted for just over 10% of investment partner or equivalent roles. Additionally, it said people of color make up 22% of the venture capital workforce, with African American employees and Hispanic or Latino employees at just 3% and 4%, respectively.
 

Investment Firm News

Best Mutual Funds: ESG Investing Helps Calvert Equity Top S&P 500 By 50% | Investor’s Business Daily

  • This piece profiles the Calvert Equity Fund, looking at its strategy and recent performance.

ShareAction Expands with New Programme on Food and Health | ShareAction

  • Institutional investors recognise the risks that food and drink consumer goods companies pose in their portfolios. ShareAction, in partnership with the Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI), will benchmark major retailers and manufacturers in the UK market to analyse their current performance in this space and inform direct engagement with firms. The campaign will then develop a set of individualised company demands for action that contributes to reducing levels of childhood obesity in the UK.

Wall Street’s Sustainable Darling Is Profiting from Climate Change | Vice

  • This piece digs deeper into the debate over how the world's largest asset manager, BlackRock, fares on environmental sustainability, with millions of dollars invested in fossil fuels and positioning as a steward of the environment.
 

Economic & Policy Shifts

(Listen) A Ray of Hope. Mid-Course Correction Revisited | BlogTalk Radio

  • The original Mid-Course Correction, published 20 years ago, became a classic in the sustainability field. It put forth a new vision for what its author, Ray C. Anderson, called the “prototypical company of the 21st century” - a restorative company that does no harm to society or the environment. Ray C. Anderson Foundation executive director John A. Lanier discusses the second edition, abuot what has happened since.

Transformation Capital: A New Investment Logic for Catalysing Systems Change | EIT Climate-KIC

  • This is the first of a series of articles exploring a new investment logic for instigating and catalysing whole systems transformation for climate impact.

Big Business Is Not Just on Board with Carbon Pricing, It’s Lobbying for It | Climate Xchange

  • This piece summarizes recent activities by major American corporations to push for a market based solution to climate change. The shift in corporate opinion towards climate-forward federal policy, and carbon pricing in particular, can be traced back to investor and legal pressure.

Editorial: Gov. DeSantis goes bold on climate change. Even Rick Scott says it’s real. Now what? | South Florida Sun Sentinel

  • When it comes to climate change, there’s been a sea change in Florida politics.The new attitude starts at the top, where Gov. Ron DeSantis last month appointed the state’s first Chief Science Officer to find “science-based solutions” to environmental concerns, and is advertising for a Chief Resilience Officer. The Editorial Board offers suggestions for how to set these new roles up for success.

Pathways to 2050: Scenarios for Decarbonizing the U.S. Economy | Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

  • C2ES led a group of companies in a collaborative exercise examining potential scenarios for achieving mid-century decarbonization goals. This scenario exercise aimed to build a common understanding of the potential for alternative pathways to deep decarbonization in the US and to highlight important commonalities and differences among such paths. This report presents the resulting scenarios and the insights drawn from them.

Students From 1,600 Cities Just Walked Out of School to Protest Climate Change. It Could Be Greta Thunberg's Biggest Strike Yet | Time

  • Hundreds of thousands of students around the world walked out of their schools and colleges in the latest in a series of strikes urging action to address the climate crisis. According to event organizers Fridays for Future, over 1664 cities across 125 countries registered strike actions, with more expected to report turnouts in the coming days.

Voters Are Bullish on Electric Vehicles, But There's a Partisan Gap | Axios

  • A newly released poll shows partisan differences over electric vehicles but nonetheless has bullish data for those excited about rapid expansion of what's still a niche market: 44% of voters plan to go electric when they replace their wheels in the next 5 years, including over half of Democrats.
 

 

Climate Risk, Science, and Clean Energy

Promises and Perils of the Paris Agreement | Science

  • This paper reviews the nationally determined contributions submitted by governments under the Paris agreement, highlighting how far the collective commitments outlined in those plans are from the global carbon emissions reductions needed.

Japan Firms Set up Consortium to Enhance Climate-related Financial Disclosure | Reuters

  • A total of 162 Japanese companies are now supporting the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), created at the end of 2015 by the G20’s Financial Stability Board, including 62 which helped launch a new consortium to improve reporting of the financial impacts of climate-related risks and opportunities. Japanese companies want their disclosures to be better understood and used by banks and investors when they make financing and investment decisions.

The 2 Faces Of Investing In Renewables | Seeking Alpha

  • Renewable energy, however defined, is widely seen as a sustainable and socially responsible (and, if the investing is done right, very profitable) addition to one's portfolio. One response is to adopt a market-neutral strategy, or its close cousin, the long/short equity fund. Meanwhile, scholars at the University of Chicago have expressed skepticism about a frequently employed state policy intended to tilt the electricity market in the direction of renewables.

ECB Says Mispricing Climate Change May Hurt Financial Stability | Bloomberg

  • In its Financial Stability Review, the European Central Bank calls for better data to gauge climate impact, warning that climate change could hit bank balance sheets with a knock-on effect on financial stability.

Preserving World Forests: a Crucial Sustainable Development Aim | BNP Paribas Asset Management

  • This piece summarizes BNP Paribas Asset Management’s work to understand the risks involved and evaluate how businesses are managing these to achieve zero deforestation.They identify three types of risk: Financial risks related to the potential rise in the cost (or even shortages) of supply and the impact on value chains; regulatory risk; and damage to the company’s reputation which can take the form of NGOs, consumers and investors calling for transparency and forest protection, which can lead to market share losses and impact earnings.

Carbon Dioxide Levels Just Hit 415 ppm. Who Saw This Coming? Exxon Mobil. | Grist

  • After breaking the 400 ppm threshold in 2013, data from 2019 puts carbon emissions at 415 ppm. The “upward trajectory continues,” according to the Scripps CO2 program, which has taken daily measurements at Mauna Loa Observatory since 1956. Leaked internal documents from Exxon Mobil reveal that the oil and gas giant has seen this emissions landmark coming since 1982. A graph shows their 2019 estimated carbon dioxide level was between about 385 ppm and 415 ppm, an impressively accurate guess for the time.

Climate Change Can Pose Big Risks to Real Estate Investments | CNBC

  • A 2018 report found that 35% of REIT properties have geographic exposure to climate hazards. The number of environmental, social and corporate governance property funds and real estate investment trusts climbed to 108 in 2018, with $272.4 billion in assets. New products — including indices and a mutual fund — aim to make it easier to parse those investment choices.

Hungary to Build $1 Billion Green-Powered Town From Scratch | Bloomberg

  • Hungary is planning to create a green-powered town with jobs and housing for thousands on a barren strip of Danube flood plain. The 1 billion-euro ($1.1 billion) project will be the size of about 500 soccer pitches and have full amenities such as schools and shopping facilities. Vegetables will be grown under glass where scrubland is today.
 
 

General Higher Education Endowment News

She, The People: HBCUs Have A Staunch Supporter In Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover | Essence

  • This profile of Glenda Baskin-Glover, President of Tennesee State University, describes how she is working in her additional role as the President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. to help boost the endowments of HBCUs.
 

 

General Higher Education Sustainability News

For Colleges, Climate Change Means Making Tough Choices | Chronicle of Higher Education

  • (Subscription required) Amid financial pressures and campus controversies, colleges are also facing a growing threat from their environments.

Being Environmentally Friendly Has Potential Perks for Colleges and Universities | Crain’s Cleveland Business

  • Being environmentally friendly has potential perks for colleges and universities beyond the altruistic. For one, using less energy or sending less trash to landfills comes with measurable cost savings. For another, it's a way to differentiate an institution in a competitive marketplace. Various examples, including using a Green Revolving Fund to support projects, are profiled.
 

Fossil Fuel Divestment

Former Vice President Al Gore Calls on Harvard to Divest from Fossil Fuels | Boston Globe

  • Fifty years after he graduated from Harvard University, former Vice President Al Gore returned to his alma mater in Cambridge as the 2019 Class Day speaker. The Nobel Peace Prize winner and climate change activist called for the Ivy League institution to divest from fossil fuel companies while speaking to graduating seniors on Wednesday. In other coverage, Harvard fossil fuel and prison divestment activists launched pledges calling on alumni to withhold donations to the University until administrators concede to their demands.

UK MPs Call for Parliament’s Pension Fund to Divest Fossil Fuels | Chief Investment Officer

  • More than 250 current and former members of the UK’s Parliament are calling for their pension fund, the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF), to disclose its carbon-intensive investment, and to quickly phase out fossil fuel investments.
 

Calendar of Upcoming Events

IEN Events:

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

2020 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit | Intentional Endowments Network and Second Nature, February 23-25, 2020, Atlanta, GA

Other Events:

9th Annual Conference: New Challenges New Opportunities | US SIF, June 10-12, 2019, Minneapolis, MN 

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

Sustainability, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Workshop 2019 | AASHE and North Hennepin Community College, June 12-14, 2019, Minneapolis, MN

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

Sustainable Investing Solutions | Appleseed Capital, Brown Advisory, Calvert Research, Community Capital Mgmt, Saturna Capital, First Affirmative/Folio Institutional, Parnassus Investments, Impax Asset Mgmt, Trillium Asset Mgmt, Green Century , Allianz, Calvert Impact, and US SIF, July 9, 2019, Boston, MA This is a Financial Advisor Only Event.

Impact Investing: Driving Social Purpose Through Measurable Investment Returns | Skytop Strategies, September 17, 2019, Boston, MA, Interested members should contact nicole@intentionalendowments.org to access a 15% off registration IEN Member discount code.

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

21st Annual Endowment and Foundation Forum | Opal, November 7-8, 2019, Boston, MA

 

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