Weekly News Round-Up: June 14, 2019

This week we are asking for input on designing the 2020 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit through this brief 6-question survey. To get a sense of recent IEN conversations on which the Summit can build, take a look at our recap of IEN's recent roundtable at the Total Impact Philadelphia conference or watch our recent webinars.

Another opportunity for action this week: consider signing on to the Universities and Colleges for the Climate Summit statement.

Renewing IEN Members

The network appreciates the continued engagement of:

 

 

Opportunities for Action

Universities and Colleges for the Climate Summit | SDG Accord

  • Deadline: August 1, 2019. In advance of the Secretary General’s Climate Summit on September 23, networks and institutions working in Further and Higher Education are coming together to add their support to this letter that would be shared with key government officials and the media in advance of this event.

Moskowitz Research Prize | Berkeley Haas School of Business and US SIF

  • Deadline: June 30, 2019. The Moskowitz Prize recognizes outstanding research on responsible investment and the financial implications of responsible business practices in capital markets. The prize-winning study is selected by a panel of judges from academia and the investment industry Judging criteria include: Significance to practitioners of sustainable and/or responsible investment; Innovativeness of research question and approach; and Appropriateness and rigor of methods.

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
Cornerstone Capital Group Publishes New Report on Investing for LGBTQI and Gender Equity | PR Newswire
  • IEN member Cornerstone Capital Group released a new research report, Two Lenses, One Vision: Investing for LGBTQI and Gender Equity. In this report Cornerstone makes the case for the thematic fusion of gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. The report discusses practical implications for how investors and asset managers can consider LGBTQI and gender equity in their investment analysis.
 

 

Sustainable Investing By Institutional Asset Owners

Norway’s Sovereign-Wealth Fund Boosts Renewable Energy, Divests Fossil Fuels | Wall Street Journal

  • Norway’s sovereign-wealth fund is embracing renewable energy and winding down fossil-fuel investments. The Scandinavian nation’s parliament voted to instruct its $1 trillion fund to pull an estimated more than $13 billion from oil, gas and coal extracting companies and move up to $20 billion into renewable-energy projects and companies, representing around 2% of the fund. The Government Pension Fund Global—which has around 6% of its holdings in fossil-fuel equities—won’t pull investments from major oil companies, but will divest from smaller energy exploration and production firms, according to a proposal from the Ministry of Finance.

Funds Say Climate Change Is Now Part of Their Investing Equation | Wall Street Journal

  • (Subscription required) Abu Dhabi’s $800 billion sovereign-wealth fund recently added a new question to its investment process: How will the Earth’s changing climate affect a potential asset’s price? This addition, without fanfare or press release, was driven, fund officials say, by a fiduciary duty to earn the highest returns and avoid risks. It wasn’t an attempt to brand the fund as more “green.”
 

Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
Harvard Course Teaches Rich Millennials How to Do Good (and Make Money) | Bloomberg
  • This piece describes a joint course run by Harvard and the University of Zurich, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, called “Impact Investing for the Next Generation.” In this context, that generation means the heirs to some of capitalism’s greatest fortunes.

Debunking The Myths Of Just Investing | Forbes

  • The CEO of JUST Capital discusses the role of the investment community in tackling the country’s pressing social, health, economic, and environmental challenges and breaks down myths surrounding socially responsible, ESG, sustainable, and “just” investing.

(Listen) The GIIN Founder Provides Impact Investing Definition | Forbes

  • In this interview, GIIN co-founder and CEO Amit Bouri discusses definitions and trends in the impact investing sector.

Tackling the Challenges of ESG Investing as Opportunities Expand Across Asset Classes | Pensions & Investments

  • In this roundtable interview, IMPACT Community Capital, Newton Investment Management, and Mercer discuss different approaches to ESG and impact investing, how it has expanded across asset classes, how investors might think differently about data gaps and the benefits of ESG and impact investing, and what excites them about this rapidly growing part of the investment world.

Concerns over Environment a Big Priority with Investors | Pensions & Investments

  • Infrastructure — not unlike other asset classes — faces increased scrutiny from asset owners aiming to limit adverse impacts on the environment, and managers are seeking investments in markets that are going to benefit from the increasing penetration of renewables.Managers also say they are evaluating if their assets are efficiently managing the cost of daily operations such as water and waste management. This piece summarizes a number of recent ESG trends.

Investors See ‘Material Risk’ in Ignoring ESG | Institutional Investor

  • Asset owners expect environmental factors will be more material than traditional financial criteria in the next five years, according to a UBS survey. Of the over 600 investors surveyed (with over $21.5 trillion in assets globally), more than 80 percent indicated it would be a “material risk” not to integrate ESG factors.Seventy-eight percent of asset owners representing pensions, endowments, and sovereign wealth funds are already integrating ESG into their investment processes, with Europe being the most active region.

Many Investors in Venture Capital Say a Big Return Isn’t Enough | Bloomberg

  • Niklas Zennstrom, whose technology investments helped make him a billionaire, said venture capital financiers are demanding a higher purpose from their funds. Managers of endowments and pension funds increasingly ask VCs to prioritize companies with an element of sustainability or humanitarianism, he said.

Building A Financial Market For The Common Good: The Experience Of Impact Investing In Spain | Forbes

  • This piece summarizes the work behind Spain joining the Global Steering Group on Impact Investing, including a task force report that highlighted some of the best practices that are being developed in Spain: linking the financial profits of fund managers to the social impact achieved, using the SDGs as a benchmark to measure impact, launching outcomes funds to finance social impact bonds, and leveraging venture philanthropy to finance the idea and seed stages of social enterprises.

Investor Demand Has the Commercial Real Estate Industry Showing Its Green Side | Propmodo

  • The real estate industry has always been one that thinks long term. Some investment vehicles, like endowments and pension funds, even have investment theses that can stretch out hundreds of years. With the growing concern over man-made impacts to the environment, like climate change, the Urban Land Institute released study findings that “increasingly, investor pressure is driving companies to analyze not just typical financial risks, but also how sustainability plays into the equation and positively affects a deal.”

Project Proponents: Five Tips to Use ESG Criteria in Drawing More Infrastructure Investors | National Law Review

  • As investors become more interested in incorporating sustainability into investment portfolios, many project proponents find that incorporating ESG into infrastructure planning provides a “leg up” in securing investors and financing. An ESG disclosure, or an ESG framework designed to disclose risk, makes it easier for investors to match projects with their own sustainability goals. This piece offers tips across 5 areas: due diligence, disclosure, risk management over time, managing multiple stakeholders, and transparency and cost savings.

Do-Good Capitalism Has to Act as If the World Depends on It | Bloomberg

  • This piece looks at the scale of impact investors, who have deployed $502 billion since 2007; socially responsible investing as a broader trend which hit $30.7 trillion in assets this year; and the estimated new commitments of private capital needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals - $5 trillion to $7 trillion.
 

Shareholder Engagement

Walden Breakthrough with SEC on LGBTQ Workplace Equality | PR Newswire

  • In the midst of a historic Pride month, a significant victory was won for LGBTQ workplace equality advocates. Shareholders of CorVel Corporation will have the opportunity to vote at the company's annual stockholder meeting on a shareholder proposal requesting that the company issue a public report detailing potential risks associated with omitting "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" from its written equal employment opportunity policy. After CorVel asked to be allowed to omit the proposal from its 2019 Proxy Statement, the SEC has decided that the company must include the proposal submitted by IEN member Walden Asset Management.
 

Community Impact Investing

Clarifying Community Benefits to Improve Place-Based Programs | Stanford Social Innovation Review

  • Place-based development incentive programs like Opportunity Zones in the United States and Enterprise Precincts in Australia need a robust framework to meaningfully identify and measure public benefits and the delivery of them. The Net Community Benefit Methodology can help.

Investors to Treasury: Collect Our Opportunity Zone Data | Impact Alpha

  • U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is said to believe that impact metrics will “kill” Opportunity Zones. Nearly 70 organizations and Opportunity Zone investors including Arctaris Impact Fund, Blueprint Local, Calvert Impact Capital, KPMG, LISC and the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance disagree.
 

Green Bonds

Freddie Mac Targeting ESG Investors With Green Mortgage Bonds | Bloomberg

  • Freddie Mac is making its first foray into green bonds, starting a new commercial mortgage-backed security program backed by loans to apartment building owners who agree to make their properties more environmentally friendly. The first bond in the new KG series of CMBS - designed to meet the needs of managers who use ESG criteria - will be $475 million in size.
 

Gender Lens Investing

Female Fund Managers Make the Case for ‘Gender Alpha’ in Emerging Markets | ImpactAlpha

  • (Subscription required) One way to seize the global growth opportunity in women’s equality: Back female fund managers with financial chops and deep understanding of underestimated entrepreneurs and underserved consumers.

How to Invest for a Gender Equitable World: A 15-Step Guide | Duke Fuqua School of Business

  • In this article, Suzanne Biegel shares a list of 15 questions to help inspire your thinking and decision making, and to help you identify investment options that are most likely to make an impact and deliver financial returns. You can start to incorporate a gender lens into most of your investments – even those that don’t seem to be women and girls related at first glance.
 

Student Managed Funds

Sustainable Finance Goes to Business School | Wall Street Journal

  • (Subscription required) New classes focused on sustainable finance and investing have been growing over the past 5 years at the top 25 global business schools. More are now offering hands-on experience as well, including the Haas Socially Responsible Investment Fund at the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, an ESG fund in the Michael Price Student Investment Fund family at New York University’s Stern School of Business, the NYU Impact Investment Fund, and others. Students who want to take their skills into the job market may face an uphill climb. Demand for sustainable investing is picking up, but entry-level jobs in the field aren’t so easy to come by, suggesting a need for firms to create more opportunities.
 

Investment Firm News

Natixis to Launch New Infrastructure Affiliate | Pensions & Investments

  • Natixis Investment Managers will launch a new affiliate, Vauban Infrastructure Partners, dedicated to infrastructure investing. It will be a spinoff from Mirova, Natixis' affiliate money manager dedicated to sustainable investment. Mirova's infrastructure team will be lifted in full to the new infrastructure affiliate.
 

Economic & Policy Shifts

NYU's Grunin Prize Highlights Crucial Innovation Happening in Impact Investing Law | Forbes

  • Though they’re largely unsung, attorneys play a crucial role in making both impact investing and social entrepreneurship happen. From helping to develop Benefit Corp. legislation to addressing regulations affecting place-based investing—those babies wouldn’t have happened without some very committed lawyers.

Automakers Tell Trump His Pollution Rules Could Mean ‘Untenable’ Instability and Lower Profits | New York Times

  • The world’s largest automakers warned President Trump that one of his most sweeping deregulatory efforts — his plan to weaken tailpipe pollution standards — threatens to cut their profits and produce “untenable” instability in a crucial manufacturing sector.

Canada Aims to Ban Single-use Plastics by 2021 | National Geographic

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that in addition to banning single-use plastics, his government would take other, unspecified steps to reduce plastic pollution. Trudeau did not specify the products to be banned, but said likely candidates include plastic bags, straws, cutlery, plates and stir sticks “where supported by scientific evidence and warranted.”
 

 

Climate Risk, Science, and Clean Energy

Global Emissions Rose the Most in 7 Years, BP Review Shows | Bloomberg

  • Global carbon emissions jumped the most in seven years in 2018 as energy demand surged, according to BP’s annual review of world energy, indicating the world is falling behind in its efforts to rein in climate change. The report, one of the most closely watched surveys of global energy trends, found that primary demand rose at the fastest pace this decade in 2018 even though economic growth weakened. China, India and the U.S. were responsible for two thirds of the 2.9% increase in consumption.

AT&T Shares Climate Change Data, Invites Local Universities to Participate in “Climate Resiliency Community Challenge” | Sunny Isles Beach Community Newspapers

  • AT&T and the Argonne National Lab have launched a “Climate Resiliency Community Challenge.” Colleges and universities are invited to apply to collaborate with local governments in the Southeast to conduct a climate risk-based analysis. One team each from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina will be selected by a panel of climate resiliency experts to receive access to leading climate data and up $50,000 in funding for the project.

David Wallace-Wells on Climate: ‘People Should Be Scared – I'm Scared’ | The Guardian

  • This interview from earlier this year discusses the book-length follow-up to a much-discussed 2017 article in New York magazine. Based on the worst-case scenarios foreseen by science, Wallace-Wells’ article portrayed a world of drought, plague and famine, in which acidified oceans drown coastal homelands, dormant diseases are released from ancient ice, conflicts surge, economies collapse, human cognitive abilities decline and heat stress becomes more intolerable in New York City than in present-day Bahrain.

U.S. Commodities Regulator Sees Market Risk from Climate Change, Urges Action | Reuters

  • A top U.S. commodities regulator said on Wednesday climate change poses a major market risk and urged federal government action to address it, putting him at odds with the Trump administration which has often dismissed the issue.

(Listen/Read) How To Talk About Climate Change In Rural America? Don’t Say Those Words | Harvest Public Media

  • Rural communities are some of the most politically disenfranchised when it comes to climate policy, and last year’s National Climate Change Report showed they’re also among the most at risk when it comes to the effect of climate change. Nearly half of Trump voters — many in Midwestern states — believe in global warming, and most support funding renewable energy. And though rural residents may not use the words “climate change,” they can see it happening in their own backyards and farm fields.

White House Blocked State Official's Written Testimony Over Climate References | The Hill

  • White House officials blocked a State Department intelligence agency from submitting written testimony warning Congress that human-caused climate change could be “possibly catastrophic,” The Washington Post reported. White House officials reportedly objected to the document’s scientific citations, which refer to work conducted by federal agencies including NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

On Board the SS Planet Titanic | Daily Star

  • This World Environment day reflection discusses the role of companies and shareholders in addressing the climate emergency.
 
 

General Higher Education Endowment News

The University of Alabama Is Returning a $21.5 Million Donation After Donor Called for Boycott of School | Newsweek

  • The University of Alabama will return a $21.5 million donation from a donor who last week encouraged students to boycott the school due to Alabama's new abortion law. UA's Board of Trustees voted in favor of returning the largest donation made in the university's history and removing Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr.'s name from the School of Law. University officials denied that the decision had anything to do with Culverhouse's stance on abortion, saying that his expectations for where the funds were to be allocated were inconsistent with the values of the school.

Investors Launch Climate Endowment to Invest in ‘Green Revolution’ | Chief Investment Officer

  • A group of international investors are planning to use Ivy League foundation strategies to create a climate endowment that they expect will grow to as large as $45.4 billion in assets under management over the next 30 years. The endowment will attempt to mimic the model for portfolio allocation and investment execution used by Yale and Harvard University endowments. In particular, it will follow the Ivy League schools’ lead in the use of alternative assets with a strong focus on illiquid and hard assets, such as infrastructure, real estate, and private equity.
 

 

General Higher Education Sustainability News

Mining in the 21st Century: How Universities Are Promoting Ethical and Sustainable Mining Practices | Study International News

  • It is clear that higher education plays a huge role in helping to create a responsible next generation of mining engineers who are also forward-thinking innovators. This article describes four leading universities in mining that are examples of institutions who are doing just that.
 

 

Divestment Campaigns

New York Teachers Fight for Divestment From Prison Industry | Truthout

  • Teachers in Rochester, New York formed a group within their union, Teachers Against Student Exploitation, to campaign to get the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System, the independent fund that manages their pensions, to divest their $8 million holdings in the for-profit prison system.

ECO Students Creates Divestment Petition | LA 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:

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:

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

From Principles to Practice: the “How-To” Guide on TCFD Implementation | SASB and CDSB, June 20, 2019, 11am EST, webinar.

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

Emerging Lessons on Place-Based Impact Investing Collaboration | Mission Investors Exchange and the Urban Institute, June 27, 2019 3:00PM EDT, webinar.

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.

Getting Gender Smart: Impact Investing with a Gender Lens | Duke Fuqua School of Business, September 9-11, 2019, Durham, North Carolina

Financing the Future: The Global Climate Divest-Invest Summit | Divest Invest, Fossil Free SA, Global Catholic Climate Movement, GreenFaith, PACJA, Shine, Wallace Global Fund, and 350, September 10-11, 2019, Cape Town, South Africa

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

2nd Impact Summit America | Phenix Capital, November 14, 2019, New York, NY

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