Weekly News Round-Up: June 1st, 2018

 
Weekly News Round-Up: June 1st, 2018

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

While registration is closed for our June 11th Community Investing Roundtable, registration is still open for IEN members to attend Confluence Philanthropy's Advisors Forum in NYC, June 19-20, 2018. IEN is pleased to be partnering with Confluence to support this event, and we hope to see you there!

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

 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance

  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how the European Parliament backed plans to align EU capital markets to long-term sustainability goals; Global electric car fleet seen tripling in just a few years; Brown Advisory's Tom Graff on making sure green bonds are actually green; California takes global warming seriously. 

UN PRI Threatens to Kick Out Laggards l Financial Times

  • One in 10 of the signatories to a UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment have been placed on a watchlist for failing to show they are taking their commitment seriously enough, amid wider criticism of the body itself by investors. The PRI will put 185 of its 1,967 signatories on notice after an annual audit suggested they had not demonstrated a minimum standard of responsible investment activity.

Green Economy Reaches Landmark l Markets Media

  • Mark Makepeace, chief executive of FTSE Russell, said the green economy has reached 6% of the global listed equity market, the same as the oil and gas sector and also emerging markets.

Millennials are Leading an Investment Revolution — Here's What Makes Their Generation Different l Business Insider

  • Nuveen's "Third Annual Responsible Investing Survey" of over 1,000 affluent investors found there was increased interest in working for, buying from, and investing in socially responsible companies. This is even truer among the millennials surveyed. Some 92% of millennials agreed with the statement "I care more about having a positive impact on society than doing well financially" compared to 52% of non-millennials.

How to Take a Passive Approach to Sustainable Investing l Think Advisor

  • This article highlights how Morningstar's study: Passive Sustainable Funds: The Global Landscape, found there were nearly 270 sustainable index mutual funds and ETFs globally that had $102 billion in AUM, a threefold increase over five years, and includes a list of considerations that managers should use when determining whether to utilize sustainable passive funds or indexes.

Sustainable Finance in Europe Finally on Its Way l Market Mogul

  • This week the European Commission announced its first legislative package in support of the Action Plan for Sustainable Finance. This comes as a follow-up to the Action Plan on Sustainable Finance launched on the 8th of March and which builds on the High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance Final Report, released in January this year.

Why New Companies Are Investing in Eco-Friendly Strategies l Born2Invest

  • Sustainable business practices have become an important part of investment strategies, for companies ranging from small crowdfunded startups to larger private equity houses with growing portfolios. This article explores how a growing customer imperative calls for greater transparency, social responsibility and more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. 

Hedge Fund Managers Increasing Use of Responsible Investment Principles l Pensions & Investments

  • Hedge fund managers have invested at least $59 billion globally using responsible investing principles, results of a survey of 80 investment management companies by the Alternative Investment Management Association and the Cayman Alternative Investment Summit showed.

College for Financial Planning to Launch Designation Devoted to Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing l Global News Wire

  • The College for Financial Planning (CFFP) will launch the groundbreaking new professional designation, the Chartered SRI Counselor™ (CSRIC™) this fall, in collaboration with the industry-group leader US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment.

Don't Get Thrown Off by Sustainable Fund Labels l Morningstar

  • This article discusses how fund labels themselves are not useful guides to differentiating among types of funds, and sustainable, impact, and ESG funds are not all exactly the same. Some focus on tilting their portfolios toward companies with superior sustainability profiles. Others focus on best-in-class selection, and still others simply include an ESG evaluation in the investment process alongside other factors. 
 
Sustainable Investing at Endowments 

Building an Impact Investing Portfolio: The Putney School’s Journey l Impactivate

  • This article highlights the collaborative approach between students and trustees the Putney School took to research and hire a new manager for the school’s endowment fund and align the school’s beliefs and investment policies. Putney looks at investing through a broad ESG lens. The school’s new policy tilts investments toward companies that are environmentally friendly, are socially aware, and have strict governance factors, while utilizing shareholder engagement techniques to affect positive change at public corporations.
 
Investment Firm News

Gurtin Announces Community-Focused Tax-Exempt Investment Strategy l Gurtin

  • Gurtin Municipal Bond Management (Gurtin) is expanding its impact-driven investment offerings to further meet the goals of municipal investors. The firm is adding an option within its SRI suite that allows investors to target investments in bonds that benefit underserved communities throughout the United States. All Social Advancement customization options, including the new Community-focused investment sub-theme, are offered with the same attractive fees as Gurtin's similarly structured municipal strategies.

Huntington Bank 2017 Environmental, Social and Governance Report Benchmarks Corporate Social Responsibility Performance l Cision

  • Huntington Bancshares Incorporated has published its ESG Report, which highlights Huntington's commitment to colleagues, customers and communities and in delivering sustainable, long-term value to investors. Huntington's ESG Report compiles social responsibility efforts in which the company has long been engaged, further increasing transparency for independent assessment and publicly updating a performance benchmark
 
Shareholder Engagement 

Arjuna Capital: As Facebook, Google, Twitter Gird For Annual Meetings, Investors Seek A Reckoning From "Big Three" On Online Content Rules l Cision

  • Twitter, Facebook, and Alphabet, Inc. (Google) face serious challenges from investors at their upcoming annual meetings, which are spread across the next week on May 30thMay 31st and June 6th respectively. All three companies will need to respond to shareholder proposals led by Arjuna Capital that call for detailed reports on the scope of platform abuses, and full disclosure of practices to curb risks posed by recent content management controversies, including sexual harassment, racism, hate speech, fake news, and election interference.

The Nathan Cummings Foundation’s Role as Shareholder Activist l Impactivate

  • As an organization, the Nathan Cummings Foundation continues to find innovative ways to do more good. In March 2018, the organization announced that it would move its entire endowment into mission-aligned impact investments. This article highlights the Foundation's work with shareholder engagement, including the two screens they use to select companies for engagement. 
 
Sustainable Development Goals

Strong Message, Flawed Messenger: “Best Practices” for Private-Equity Investing in the Global Goals l Impact Alpha

  • In the mobilization of global capital to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, private equity firms investing in emerging or “growth” markets have a special and perhaps irreplaceable role to play. In this article, ImpactAlpha analyses a report released by EMPEA (for Emerging Markets Private Equity Association) earlier this month.

Global Initiative Promotes Knowledge Sharing to Scale Up Green Finance l SDG Knowledge Hub

  • This article highlights how participants at an inaugural event organized by the Global Green Financial Leadership Program discussed the potential of green finance, and shared case studies that demonstrated that holistic approaches that consider the SDGs can enhance the ability of investors to manage environmental and social risks and provide them with a competitive advantage.
 
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation

All Lyft Rides Are Now Carbon Neutral l Medium

  • A year ago, Lyft joined We Are Still In, the movement led by Michael Bloomberg, to show our continued support for the Paris Climate Accord. This week, Lyft announced they would immediately offset the carbon emissions from all rides globally. This is a multi-million dollar investment in the first year alone, which makes Lyft one of the top voluntary purchasers of carbon offsets in the world.

Extreme Flooding in Maryland is a Glimpse into our Disaster-Filled Future l Mashable

  • While several factors resulted in this Maryland town's second "1,000-year storm" occurring in just the last 22 months, one increasingly significant contribution to the flooding is the amount of water vapor accumulating in Earth's warming atmosphere. The flooding in Maryland fits within the broader context of how human-caused climate change is altering our atmosphere, making these extreme events more commonplace in the future.

Sorghum-Based Biofuels Key to Sustainable Bioenergy Economy l R&D Mag

  • This article explores how sorghum is a particularly attractive feedstock for bioenergy in part because of its versatility.  
 
General Higher Education Endowment News

U.S. Economy Has Endowment Investments Staying Put l The NonProfit Times

  • This article highlights the results in NEPC's endowment and foundation survey released this week, including the statistic that only about 16% of endowments and foundations repositioned their portfolios because of recent market volatility, and even among those the strategies varied. Three-quarters of respondents said they’ve made no changes in response to recent market volatility. 

Minimizing the Endowment Tax l Chief Investment Officer

  • This article highlights how, ever since Congress included a 1.4% excise tax on certain university endowments as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, colleges and universities that are potentially affected by the new tax have been lobbying for its removal.
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment

Japan's Divestment Campaign Pits Buddhist Priest Against Banks l NBC News

  • This article discusses how, in the wake of Fukushima, Tomonobu Narita is at the forefront of a movement to withdraw money from banks that back environmentally harmful energy projects.

Fossil-Fuel Divestment Is Futile (Opinion) l Wall Street Journal

  • This opinion piece argues that climate-change and environmental activist groups have become the ideological driving force behind the ESG movement, sweeping the investment management industry.

Perspectives on Fossil Fuel Divestment l Presbyterian Outlook

  • This article highlights how Presbyterians still disagree on whether the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) should divest from its holdings in the fossil fuel industry. Hudson River Presbytery has submitted an overture asking the 2018 General Assembly to direct the Board of Pensions and the Presbyterian Foundation to divest from the fossil fuel industry and to seek out and invest in securities of companies focused on renewable energy or energy efficiency.

Cambridge Students Drop Banners Across River Cam Decrying ‘Climate Emergency’ l The Varsity

  • Pro-divestment activists staged a triple banner drop from bridges along the River Cam this week in yet another push for The University to divest from fossil fuels. 

Cambridge Academics Release Open Letter Opposing Divestment Working Group Report l The Varsity

  • Cambridge academics have signed an open letter calling on the University to “reject” the recommendations of the divestment working group report and to commit instead to full divestment within five years. Detailing the “unsatisfactory aspects” of the report, the letter claims that the working group’s advice “represents a transparent attempt to thwart the direct and positive action of divestment”. At the time of writing, there were 61 signatories.
 
 
Calendar of Upcoming Events

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.

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

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.

PRI Climate Forums:

  • San FranciscoJune 25th, 2018, hosted by K&L Gates
  • New YorkJune 27th, 2018, hosted by Credit Suisse
  • BostonJune 28th, 2018, hosted by Fidelity Investments

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