Weekly News Round-Up: May 3, 2019

This week a group of IEN members gathered in Philadelphia for a vibrant discussion and action-planning roundtable, using our network’s Intentionally Designed Endowment Roadmap as a guide. For those in Boston, please join us for our next face-to-face conversation anchored by the Roadmap, a networking event May 9 presented in partnership with the WISE-Boston (Women Investing for a Sustainable Economy) Group, and hosted by the MIT Impact Investing Initiative at MIT Sloan School of Management.

Our next educational webinar will take place on May 14 at 11am EDT, discussing the Future-Fit Business Benchmark - keep an eye out early next week for more details and registration!

New IEN Members

William Boardman

 

 

Opportunities for Action
  • 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

  • This page contains a list of relevant proxy exempt solicitations and proxy memos, with the arguments for why you should vote in favor.

Sign-on Opportunities

 

New Resources & Reports

Moving Forward with Sustainable Investing: A Roadmap for Asset Owners | US SIF Foundation

  • This comprehensive guide helps institutional asset owners get started in sustainable investing or enhance their current level of sustainable investing practice. It is relevant for retirement plans, corporations, educational institutions, philanthropic foundations, family offices, nonprofit organizations and other asset owners. It explains the basics of sustainable investing, includes a series of steps asset owners can take to move forward, and points to resources for support, including IEN. (Registration required for free access)

Overexposed: The IPCC’s Report on 1.5°C and the Risks of Overinvestment in Oil and Gas | Global Witness

  • This report assesses what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s landmark report on 1.5°C means for the future of investment in the upstream oil and gas industry. By comparing data from the IPCC’s climate models with forecasts from industry analysts Rystad Energy, this report demonstrates the degree to which future production and capital expenditure (capex) is incompatible with limiting warming to 1.5°C.

Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) Implementation Guide | Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)

  • Using the guide, companies can more effectively take the TCFD recommendations from principles to practice, yielding greater insight into the material climate-related financial risks and opportunities they face, equipping investors with reliable, comparable, decision-useful information, and enhancing the resilience and stability of global capital markets to drive sustainable, long-term economic development.

Scaling Impact Investing in Forestry | Global Impact Investing Network

  • This report begins to address some of the communications gaps that restrict capital flows into the sustainable forestry market and seeks to uncover opportunities to unlock further investment. Investment in these vehicles is critical, both to the conservation of critical biodiversity and animal habitat and to the ability to deliver a low-carbon or negative emission future.
 

 

Sustainable Investing By Institutional Asset Owners

Capital for Justice: Spurring On Impact Investing for Racial Equity | Stanford Social Innovation Review

  • In the last in a series curated by Mission Investors Exchange, Ford Foundation leaders Darren Walker and Roy Swan describe Ford’s history of and current strategy for investing with and in funds managed by diverse professionals.

Illinois Lawmakers Want to Sway State, Local Funds to 'Sustainable' Investing | Illinois News Network

  • Illinois lawmakers are looking to nudge public investment funds in the state toward what they call “responsible investing.” The bill, which passed a Senate committee and now awaits a floor vote, would have any public entity in Illinois that invests taxpayer funds to establish guidelines that adhere to ESG best practices.

Japan’s GPIF Expands ESG Focus with World Bank Green Bonds | Pensions & Investments

  • Japan's Government Pension Investment Fund is expanding its partnership with the World Bank by investing in World Bank-issued green, social and sustainable development bonds, its executive managing director and CIO said during a panel at the Milken Institute Global Conference. The move is part of the $1.6 trillion Tokyo-based pension fund's commitment to promote ESG principles throughout the pension fund's portfolio.
 

Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Sustainable Finance in Troubling Times: Five Actions to Prevent a Crisis | Qrius

  • A professor of sustainable finance at LSE’s Grantham Research Institute discusses macro trends in sustainable investment, and lays out recommendations for what financiers and policymakers can do to fend off threats – and, more than that, to align investments with the zero-carbon, resilient and inclusive development model of the next decade.

Investment Report Highlights SDGs as Improvement over ESG Framework | SDG Knowledge Hub

  • A new report from 17 Asset Management aims to help translate the SDGs into an “actionable investment strategy,” presenting a process for building an investment strategy that aligns with the SDGs. The report highlights early adopters of SDG investing, including select endowments, insurance companies, pension funds and sovereign wealth funds.

Impact Investing Trends in 2019 Include Greater Focus On Gender | Forbes

  • This article summarizes 11 distinct new trends in impact investing in 2019, as observed by a panel of 50 thought leaders and practitioners.

Jeff Gitterman: Why ESG Is at a Turning Point | Barron’s

  • Interview with Queens-born Jeff Gitterman, 54, a well-regarded advisor, former radio host and experienced meditator who has converted his own practice to ESG, about the hype surrounding ESG, why the market is “ignoring the government,” and why advisors should get off the sidelines.

Don’t Forget About Investors’ Interest in Social and Governance Issues | National Association of Plan Advisors

  • According to Allianz Life’s “ESG Investor Sentiment Study,” when asked about the importance of a variety of ESG topics in deciding whether to invest in a company, around 70% of American consumers cited each of the three main categories - environmental concerns like natural resource conservation or a company’s carbon footprint, social issues such as working conditions of employees or racial/gender equality, and governance topics like transparency of business practices and finances, or level of executive compensation - as being significant in their decision making.

Fund Buyers Seeking Alpha in ESG Investments | Investor Daily

  • The Natixis Investment Managers global survey of 200 fund buyers – those responsible for selecting funds included on private bank, insurance, fund-of-fund and other retail platforms – found that two-thirds (67 per cent) of fund buyers surveyed said they agreed that including ESG factors will be standard practice for all investment managers within five years.

Providers Look to End the ESG Performance Debate | PlanSponsor

  • It may take some time for the retirement industry in the U.S. to fully embrace ESG as a positive-performance factor, but this piece argues it’s already a best practice to think about ESG from a risk-management perspective.

Cost of Passive ESG Investments Falling | Investment News

  • This summary of a recent webcast points out that with increasing sophistication and decreasing cost of ESG investment products, advisers have an opportunity to reach millennial investors, many of whom reject the notion that ESG should mean sacrificing performance.

Sustainable Investing Will Dominate Next Decade | Markets Media

  • This article summarizes the discussion at the Innovate Finance Global Summit in  London, with observations from BlackRock’s head of Europe, Middle East and Africa Rachel Lord, Bank of England governor Mark Carney, and others about the evolution of sustainable investing.

ESG-based Investing Is Here to Stay, Say Executives | Institutional Asset Manager

  • At S&P Global Ratings' ESG Evaluation launch ceremony, leaders note that assets invested in line with ESG-related strategies reached $30 trillion last year, and this total looks set to surge as millennial investors – who, according to a Morgan Stanley study, are nearly twice as likely to invest in companies and funds that meet their environmental and social values -- are reportedly set to inherit an estimated $30 trillion in wealth in the coming years.

Understanding ESG Investment - The Legal Considerations For Pension Scheme Trustees | Mondaq

  • The Irish Pension Magazine discusses legal considerations for pensions scheme trustees of integrating Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance investment factors, based on European Union directives and national law.
 

Shareholder Engagement

Fund Managers Worth $10.2tr Urge Oil Firms to Align with Paris Agreement Goals | Business Green

  • New findings from a survey of 39 fund managers responsible for $10.2tr of assets worldwide, led by UK Sustainable Investment and finance Association (UKSIF) and the Climate Change Coalition, suggest increasing investor pressure on oil firms to shift away from fossil fuels is set to intensify. The survey highlighted rapid changes in investor sentiment over the past year, with only 12 percent of fund managers indicating they do not have a policy to engage oil companies on climate change, down sharply from 41 per cent in a similar survey last year.

Equinor Strengthens its Commitment to Climate Leadership | Equinor

  • In a joint statement prepared with investors participating in Climate Action 100+, Equinor announces new steps to demonstrate further industry leadership on climate change and strong support for the goals of the Paris Agreement. UBS Asset Management, HSBC Global Asset Management and Storebrand Asset Management – led engagement with Equinor as part of Climate Action 100+.
 

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Investors Worried About Wealth Inequality Should Focus on Fund Manager Compensation | Stanford Social Innovation Review

  • The compensation structures in the impact and ESG investing industries, particularly at large funds, may be exacerbating the very problems that ethically minded financial professionals are trying to solve. This article gives five guidelines for addressing the glaring income and wealth inequality in our own backyard.
 

Gender Lens Investing

ESG Matters (Part 1): Diversity Measures | Chief Investment Officer

  • This article looks at efforts to improve board diversity, which has been linked to stronger corporate performance. Institutional investors are pushing for greater transparency and greater availability of data on the percentage of board seats held by women and people of color.

These Investments Aim to Push for Workplace Diversity and Gender-pay Equity | CNBC

  • Among U.S. asset managers, there are 15 funds — exchange-traded funds and mutuals — that fall into the gender and diversity sustainable investing category, according to investment research company Morningstar. This article summarizes their strategies.
 

Student Managed Funds

MBA Students Face off in Challenge to Create the Next Best Impact Investing Idea | CNBC

  • A recent competition called the Total Impact Portfolio Challenge challenged 26 teams of graduate students from 19 schools to come up with a unique investment take on impact investing. The event reflects a growing interest in investing in environmental and social causes — both professionally and academically — in recent years. The competition was put together by Bank of America, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Social Impact Initiative, and the Good Capital Project, and a team from the University of Vermont took the top prize.
 

 

Investment Firm News

Access Impact Framework | Cornerstone Capital Group

  • A recently released framework links the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to investment activities through a focus on access — access to the natural, human and economic resources that will create a more regenerative and inclusive world. Cornerstone’s Access Impact Framework incorporates company-level ESG metrics with proprietary industry and manager-level analysis to derive insight into the alignment of investment portfolios with its access themes, and thus in turn with the SDGs.

Money Management Institute and Morningstar Launch Sustainable Investing Curriculum to Prepare Financial Advisors for the Growing ESG Market | PR Web

  • The Money Management Institute (MMI) and Morningstar announced the launch of the MMI/Morningstar Sustainable Investing Curriculum to address increasing investor demand for sustainable investing. The eight-course online curriculum provides financial advisors with an introduction to the fundamentals, principles, and practices of sustainable and ESG investing, enabling them to start client conversations and integrate sustainable investing into their practices.

TIAA and Nuveen Recognized with Two CIO 100 Awards for Enterprise Excellence in IT | Business Wire

  • IDG’s CIO has announced that both TIAA and Nuveen, the investment manager of TIAA, are recipients of 2019 CIO 100 awards. Nuveen was recognized for its proprietary Responsible Investment (RI) platform, which enables portfolio managers and analysts to seamlessly include the ESG aspects of target securities in their investment decision-making.

Arnerich Massena Announces the Hire of Shelly Kapoor as Director of Operations | Oregon Business

  • Portland-based IEN member investment firm Arnerich Massena, an independent investment advisory firm specializing in endowment & foundation, private wealth management, retirement plan consulting services, and impact investing strategies, announced today that Shelly Kapoor has joined the firm as director of operations.
 

Economic & Policy Shifts

Fly Less, Cut Meat, No Diesel: The U.K.'s Roadmap to Zero Carbon | Bloomberg

  • British people need to fly less, drive electric cars, eat little meat and turn their home thermostats down to 19 degrees Celsius (66 Fahrenheit) in order to rein in greenhouse gases damaging the planet, according to recommendations from the government’s official adviser on climate change. Drawn up by a panel including lawmakers, scientists, industry officials and analysts, their 277-page report also suggests a drastic overhaul for industry, agriculture and aviation.

Central Banks Are Finally Taking Up the Climate Change Challenge | Financial Times

  • This commentary summarizes the growing work of the Network for Greening the Financial System, a group of three dozen central banks and regulators covering half of global gross domestic product and two-thirds of the global systemically important banks and insurers, and other signals that central banks are serious about considering climate change as a risk to financial stability.

Janet Mills Proposes 27-member Climate Change Council | Bangor Daily News

  • Maine Gov. Janet Mills presented a bill on Tuesday to create a 27-member climate change council charged with dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning Maine to what she describes as a “low-carbon economy.”

Beto O’Rourke Proposes $5 Trillion Plan to Reach Net-Zero Emissions | Bloomberg

  • Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke released a $5 trillion plan to combat climate change over the next decade with a goal of achieving net-zero emissions in the U.S. by 2050. The plan would include putting the U.S. back in the Paris Agreement, seeking a “legally enforceable” requirement that the nation remove as much greenhouse gases as it emits, a requirement that public companies measure and disclose climate risks as well as greenhouse gas emissions in their operations and supply chains, and an end to new fossil fuel leases on federal land.

Indiana Regulators Reject Vectren Gas Plant Over Stranded Asset Concerns | Utility Dive

  • Indiana utility regulators unanimously rejected an 850 MW natural gas plant proposed by Vectren, directing the utility to evaluate alternatives to the large, centralized generation. Regulators are concerned the facility — slated to replace three retiring coal plants — could become a stranded asset as customer demand changes and the cost of renewable energy declines.
 

 

Climate Risk, Science, and Clean Energy

Category 4 Storm Heads for India, Almost One Million Evacuate | Bloomberg

  • A cyclonic storm equivalent of a category 4 hurricane is gathering speed and is set to hit India on Friday morning as almost one million people are being evacuated in the eastern state of Odisha. Cyclone Fani is forecast to be the worst storm since 2014. The Navy and the coast guard have deployed ships and helicopters for relief operations, according to a government statement.

World's Forests 'In Emergency Room' After Years of Losses | Reuters

  • The world lost 12 million hectares (30 million acres) of tropical tree cover last year - the equivalent of 30 football pitches a minute - researchers said, warning the planet’s health was at stake. It was the fourth highest annual decline since records began in 2001, according to new data from Global Forest Watch, which uses satellite imagery and remote sensing to monitor tree cover losses from Brazil to Ghana. IEN member World Resources Institute led the study.

EIA: Renewables to Top Coal Generation for First Time in April/May | Utility Dive

  • Data in the U.S. Energy Information Administration's latest Short Term Energy Outlook forecasts renewable energy resources, including hydroelectricity, will generate more electricity in April and May than coal-fired plants. According to the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis, this would be the first time renewable generation has surpassed coal.

Chinese Electric Car Maker BYD's First-quarter Profit Up 632 Percent, Sees First-half Profit Up | Reuters

  • Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD Co Ltd, backed by U.S. investor Warren Buffett, reported on Sunday a 632 percent jump in its first-quarter net profit, buoyed by strong demand for its new energy vehicles. The Shenzhen-based car and battery maker, which has a joint venture with Daimler AG in China, said last month it expected first-quarter profit to rise by up to nearly 800 percent.

Taking a Stand on Sustainability | Chemical Engineering

  • Last month, Royal Dutch Shell released a report that assesses the company’s alignment with 19 industry associations on climate-related policy. The report outlines four key policy positions that were evaluated: support of the Paris Agreement goals on climate change; government-led carbon pricing mechanisms; low-carbon technology policy; and the role of natural gas for energy. Of the 19 industry associations evaluated, Shell found that it was aligned with nine of them, had some misalignment with another nine, and had “material misalignment” with one, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM).

(Watch) Rio Tinto CEO Explains Why the Company Is Investing in Sustainable Mining Practices | CNBC

  • Mining company Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sebastian Jacques discusses his company's investment in sustainable mining technologies and practices.
 
 

General Higher Education Endowment News

(Listen) Buffett Reveals ‘Outrageous’ Acts That Lifted College’s Endowment to $2 Billion | Bloomberg

  • In this podcast, Janet Lorin, Bloomberg News Endowments Reporter, explains how Warren Buffett delighted in investing on behalf of a tiny liberal arts school endowment. Story begins at 07:17, and the written story is available here.

Donor Advised Funds: Changing the Philanthropic Landscape for Higher Education | Commonfund

  • Giving to colleges and universities grew 4.6 percent in the academic year that ended in June, with Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) showing significant growth as a source of gifts. Many colleges and universities, including Stanford, Yale and Dartmouth, have set up DAFs to allow alumni and others connected to the institution to put their philanthropic dollars to work. As DAF’s continue to grow, especially for colleges and universities looking to use it as a key resource development tool, this piece outlines key issues to consider.

Commentary: How Elite U.S. Colleges Could Reduce Global Poverty (And Get a Tax Break) | Chicago Tribune

  • The author discusses the endowment tax included in the 2017 tax bill, and argues that the approximately 30 colleges it impacts could invest the combined $150 million to $200 million that they might otherwise owe in endowment taxes on enrolling new students in low-income countries. By doing so, schools could advance the sustainable development goals at essentially no additional cost.

Texas Permanent School Fund’s Investment Returns Don’t Measure Up, but Bonuses Do | Houston Chronicle

  • Six-figure performance bonuses are not at all unusual in the endowment world. But the 165-year-old Texas school fund, the largest education endowment in the nation, awards them in an unusual way — one that experts say is not an industry “best practice.” The school fund bases bonuses on the fund’s gross return without factoring in how much it pays in fees to outside fund managers, a Houston Chronicle investigation found. It is the net return — the amount the endowment earns after accounting for fees — that is the critical number for Texas’ schools, which rely on the $44 billion endowment to help pay for textbooks and other expenses.
 

 

General Higher Education Sustainability News

Growing Sustainability Efforts at Montana State University Earn a Silver Rating | Bozeman Daily Chronicle

  • MSU earned a silver rating on completion of the AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) assessment, making a detailed report on how the Bozeman campus is doing in areas like reducing greenhouse gases, reducing waste sent to the landfill, saving energy and making buildings and dining halls sustainable. STARS also rates sustainability in transportation, academics, investment, innovation and student engagement.
 

Private Prison Divestment

New Student Organization Calls for Boston University to Divest from Private Prison System | Daily Free Press

  • Boston University Students Against Mass Incarceration, a new student-run private prison divestment campaign, launched this month with the goal of educating the student body about BU’s participation in the prison industrial complex.
 

Fossil Fuel Divestment

New York State Legislative Hearing Escalates Urgency of Fossil Fuel Divestment | 350

  • At a New York state legislative hearing “Divesting the State Pension Fund from fossil fuels,” experts and activists urged legislators to support the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act and make New York a real leader for climate justice. The bill would require State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to responsibly divest from the largest 200 fossil fuel companies within five years, prioritizing low performing coal companies. Chief Investment Officer magazine covered the opposition to this bill from another perspective, NY Pension’s Fossil Fuel Divestment Efforts Facing Stalwart Opposition.

Money Talks: A Q&A with Bill McKibben on Investing in “Nothing that Burns” | Corporate Knights

  • In this interview, the renowned climate activist talks about how he invests his own money and the global movement for fossil fuel divestment.

Cambridge to Evaluate Divestment Stance with New Report | Varsity

  • The University Council has committed to producing a report which will look “more deeply” into the advantages and disadvantages of divestment, with the report or a progress update to be delivered by 16th October 2019.

Cambridge City Council Endorses Fossil Fuel Divestment | Harvard Crimson

  • The Cambridge City Council voted Monday to pass an order endorsing student activists’ demands for Harvard to divest from the fossil fuel industry.

Opinion: Harvard's Hypocrisy On Climate Change | WBUR

  • A student leader of Fossil Free Divest Harvard describes current efforts to push the university to divest from fossil fuels and calls for Harvard to disclose its investments, commit to divest from fossil fuel companies and reinvest in environmentally sustainable and socially responsible funds by Earth Day 2020, and be part of the movement that is building a fossil-free future.

Despite Progress, Hopkins Must Step Up Climate Efforts | Johns Hopkins News-Letter

  • A student leader reacts to Johns Hopkins University’s Earth Day announcements and calls for fossil fuel divestment.

Coalition Aims to Energize Campus on Carbon Neutrality | Miscellany News

  • This piece describes the launch of a new Vassar Climate Action Coalition building on past fossil fuel divestment campaigns at Vassar College and focusing on holding the school accountable to its carbon neutrality target.

Renewing the Call to Divest from Fossil Fuel Companies | Wellesley News

  • A student leader calls for the 2014 decision against divesting from fossil fuel companies to be reconsidered.

Fossil Free Stanford Rallies for Total Fossil Fuel Divestment | Stanford Daily

  • A group of advocates for Stanford’s full divestment from fossil fuels marched to deliver a proposal to Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole.

ECO Students Creates Divestment Petition | Los Angeles Loyolan

  • Two members of ECO Students, a club dedicated to making Loyola Marymount University more sustainable and environmentally conscious, have recently created a petition for LMU to divest from companies that participate in the extraction of fossil fuels, specifically tar sands.
 

Calendar of Upcoming Events

IEN Events:

An Introduction to the IEN Roadmap & How the University of New Hampshire Intentionally Invests | WISE-Boston and Intentional Endowments Network, May 9, 2019, 5:30-7:30pm EDT, Cambridge, MA

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

Other Events:

2019 Opportunity Zone Expo Las Vegas | Opportunity Zone Expo, May 9-10, 2019, Las Vegas, NV, Interested members should contact Kaede Kawauchi to access a $50 registration discount as an IEN member.

Davos on the Delta l iSelect Fund, May 14-15, 2019, Memphis, TN

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

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

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

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