Weekly News Round-Up: June 21, 2019

This week’s round-up contains several powerful pieces making the case for leadership by higher education, arts endowments, foundations, and investment firms on sustainable investing and carbon neutrality - as well as a hot-off-the-presses announcement that IEN member UNC Asheville is showing that leadership by beginning to invest roughly 10% of its endowment using ESG criteria, working with another IEN member, Walden Asset Management.

Please join us next week to hear more about the path to responsible investing and working in coalition, in our webinar with the University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation and PRI.

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 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. IEN is partnering with the First Affirmative Financial Network emeriti and longtime affiliates who are offering scholarships 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: TODAY, 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.

Sign-on Opportunities


New Resources & Reports

2019 Annual Impact Investor Survey | Global Impact Investing Network

  • In its 9th edition, the Annual Impact Investor Survey provides data and insights on impact investors’ motivations, activities, and perspectives on market progress and remaining challenges. The report draws on responses from 266 leading impact investing organizations from around the world, collectively managing USD 239 billion. Key findings: The impact investing market is diverse; It continues to grow and mature; Impact measurement and management is central to investors’ goals and practices; Impact investors report performance in line with both financial and impact expectations; Impact investors indicate commitment to developing the industry.

Aligning Retirement Assets Toolkit #2 | World Business Council on Sustainable Development

  • WBCSD released its second Aligning Retirement Assets Toolkit - designed to help companies better align retirement funds with their social and environmental commitments. Top investment managers – including Allianz Global Investors, BlackRock, Legal & General Investment Management, Mercer, Natixis Investment Managers and the PRI led the initiative’s steering committee, with Mercer providing consulting services to develop the toolkit. This builds on the toolkit released last year to help senior executives better understand how retirement plans are governed and operated, and provide guidance on fiduciary responsibility.

A Majority of Americans Think Fossil Fuel Companies Are Responsible for the Damages Caused by Global Warming | Yale Program on Climate Change Communication

  • Conducted by Yale University’s Program on Climate Change Communications and supported by the Union of Concerned Scientists, this new survey asked Americans' opinions about responsibility for climate change damages. Results are searchable through this interactive map and included: nearly 70% of respondents distrust fossil fuel companies; majorities in Texas and Louisiana, two states with entrenched fossil fuel industry ties, think companies should pay for climate damages; and 57% of U.S. adults think fossil fuel companies have a great deal or a moderate amount of responsibility for global warming damages.

Out On a Limb: The State of Corporate No-Deforestation Commitments & Reporting Indicators that Count | Ceres

  • While nearly 500 global companies have made commitments to no-deforestation with varying degrees of specificity, only a handful disclose their quantitative progress toward achieving them and eliminating tropical forest loss from their commodity supply chains. This investor brief, undertaken in partnership with Forest Trends’ Supply Change, assesses the state of public corporate commitments around deforestation and lays out the case for elevating two key reporting metrics from companies as we head into 2020 reporting deadlines.


Sustainable Investing By Institutional Asset Owners

UNC Asheville Commits to Environmental, Social and Governance Criteria for Portion of Endowment | University of North Carolina Asheville

  • Following a multi-year effort initiated by UNC Asheville student leaders, the UNC Asheville Board of Trustees today approved using ESG criteria for a portion of its endowment that will be divested from fossil fuel investments. UNC Asheville plans to negotiate an agreement with Walden Asset Management and will transfer roughly 10% of the University and Foundation’s collective endowed assets to invest using ESG criteria. The estimated amount is $5 million.

Can Arts Organizations Do a Public Good Simply by Investing Their Money Differently? One Foundation Is Trying to Find Out | Artnet News

  • As arts institutions come under fire for their relationships with donors with controversial business ties, one arts organization thinks activists might be missing the forest for the trees. The Souls Grown Deep Community Partnership is preparing to put $1 million into impact investment funds as part of Upstart 2.0, a new initiative for investors who want to get a return on their money while supporting the arts. Souls Grown Deep, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the work of African American artists from the South, is the first institutional investor to join the program.

Canadian Investors Endorse Sustainable Finance | Yahoo FInance

  • Institutional investors are endorsing sustainable finance and welcoming a new report from Canada’s Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance. The Expert Panel’s report includes fifteen recommendations to support the growth and development of sustainable finance in Canada. The report has been welcomed by the Responsible Investment Association, a network of financial professionals and investment organizations representing more than C$12 trillion in assets under management.

Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Commentary: Are We Squandering Opportunity for Impact? | Pensions & Investments

  • Ellen Dorsey, executive director of IEN funder the Wallace Global Fund, and Ron Cordes, co-founder of the Cordes Foundation, make the case for mission-aligned investing by foundations. They argue that, as institutions that receive charitable tax status to serve the public good, if our investments are harming the public good, we have mission-level responsibility to assess that impact and to act.

US Renewable Energy Scored $57 Billion in Private Investment in 2018: Report | Think Advisor

  • With the U.S. private sector investing almost $57 billion in 2018 in U.S. renewable energy and enabling grid technology, including energy storage, it seems well on its way to hit the $1 trillion goal by 2030, set by the American Council on Renewable Energy, a nonprofit lobbying group that released a progress report on its campaign started last year and an institutional survey.

From Black To Blue: Moving The ESG Conversation Beyond Carbon And Onto Water | Seeking Alpha

  • When it comes to ESG, a great deal of research has focused on carbon - how it can be measured, managed and invested in for tomorrow's green economy. Water risks are regional, multi-dimensional and very distinct from carbon. Getting better disclosure for at least the high-stakes companies is going to be the first step to accurately assessing water-related risks in a portfolio. During this early phase of water data incorporation, it is critically important to avoid penalizing companies who are industry leaders and have started disclosing, even though their peers have not.  

Fund Managers Are More Moral Than You'd Think | Bloomberg

  • Including ESG considerations in investment decisions is becoming of paramount importance for the fund management industry. Moreover, those principles may be coming into force in asset allocation even faster than previously thought. A new survey of ESG adoption rates, from UBS Group AG’s asset management unit and Responsible Investor Research, covers more than 600 asset owners in 46 countries, responsible for more than 19 trillion euros ($21 trillion) of assets.

A Titan of Global Investing Just Booted Facebook from its Do-good Index as a Direct Result of Privacy Concerns | Business Insider

  • S&P Dow Jones Indices is removing Facebook from its S&P 500 ESG Index after privacy concerns surrounding the company, "including a lack of transparency," led Facebook to fall short of its ESG standards. The move underscores not only the pressure on Facebook amid a string of privacy scandals, but the rise of firms incorporating ESG metrics into their investment decisions.

Banks With $100 Billion in Shipping Loans Get Strict on Climate | Bloomberg

  • A group of financiers with $100 billion of loans to shipowners are about to get stricter on the kinds of vessels they’ll finance as part of a drive to improve the maritime industry’s environmental performance. Eleven major financiers are for the first time adopting a set of principles requiring them to maintain their lending books in a way that matches goals in the Paris climate agreement, as well as related targets adopted by global regulator the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization.

Andrew Lee: The Future of Sustainable Investing | Barron’s

  • In this interview, UBS Wealth Management sustainable investing strategist Lee argues that ESG is here to stay, but points to confusing terminology and muddy expectations as two of its top challenges. He takes on the approach’s many critics, who like to point to things like tobacco stocks’ enviable performance. And he explains why financial advisors should get off the fence.

Private Equity Can Boost Impact Investing, but GPs Have to Focus on Transparency and Trust Building KMPG Says | Opalesque

  • According to the findings of a KPMG survey, impact investing strategies can be beneficial to private equity in many of the same ways that adopting ESG frameworks have helped equity funds outperform. GPs are finding that impact investing can help solve for increasing investor demands. GP respondents tell KPMG that when it comes to impact investing, the LPs that are interested are no longer just the predictable ones e.g. those from mission-driven organizations or big pension funds - mainstream investors want these strategies as well.

Shareholder Engagement

Calpers Diversity Push Blends Social-Investing Camps | Bloomberg

  • The California Public Employees’ Retirement System has contacted more than 700 companies in the past two years about improving board diversity, on the theory that more diversity translates into better investment returns. So far, there isn’t enough evidence to judge whether Calpers’s diversity campaign is likely to pay off, but the effort is noteworthy because it blends two distinct movements within social investing: socially responsible investing and ESG investing.

Large Investor Coalition Pressures ESG Disclosure on 700 Companies | Chief Investment Officer

  • The Group of 88, an institutional investor consortium with almost $10 trillion in assets, wants to see more detailed disclosures from more than 700 companies including ExxonMobil, Amazon, and Volvo. The engagement is part of the Carbon Disclosure Project’s 2019 non-disclosure campaign, which pushes for more corporate transparency around climate change, deforestation, and water security using shareholder influence from the big-time investors to make the difference. It is the first time in the 4-year history of the ESG organization’s campaign it is publicly reporting its results.

Community Impact Investing

Making Places for Everyone — With Everyone | Stanford Social Innovation Review

  • Placemaking has become an important tool in the community development toolbox to revitalize disinvested, underutilized areas to attract people and activities. Investments in communities and neighborhoods can boost economic activity, but they are often not sufficient to build wealth equitably for their residents. Effective placemaking activities must ensure investments serve as assets for existing residents without adding the pressure of displacing them or pricing them out. This balancing act can be challenging, but when done right, placemaking can catalyze growth for low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

A $3.9 million Fund Has Quietly Made a Major Social Impact in Louisville | Louisville Business First

  • The Impact Capital fund from the Community Foundation of Louisville, created in 2014, has doled out $2.6 million to businesses and organizations — all with a social goal or purpose — through 13 loans. The loans that the Impact Capital program has made have been tied to the creation of 478 jobs and 61 new businesses, Grissom said. More than 240 people have been housed as a result of this program as loans were made to build or preserve 138 affordable housing units in the city.

Green Bonds

Green Bonds Investors Cite Benefits of ESG Sector | Financial Times

  • More than half of all retail investors who have placed money in so-called impact investment products, such as green bonds, expect to increase their share of the sector in the next two years, a survey by the Rockefeller Foundation and Longitude Group shows. Meanwhile, some 55 per cent of the 200 investors who were polled think that pursuing social impact helps boost returns rather than sacrificing financial performance, as was traditionally presumed. However, there is widespread confusion over which impact products are “genuine”, the survey warned.

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Roundtable: Diversity and Inclusion in Asset Management | Funds Europe

  • This expert panel Q&A looks at the impact of diversity (and the lack of it) within companies, considering how we can promote a funds industry that is more inclusive in terms of gender, ethnicity, sexuality and social class.

Leaking Talent: How People of Color are Pushed Out of Environmental Organizations | Diverse Green

  • The environmental movement has historically had a lack of racial diversity across all ranks of the largest NGOs and Foundations. In 2018, Green 2.0 asked the 40 largest NGOs and environmental foundations to report the ethnic diversity of their staff. This report summarizes the findings, factors that impact the retention and promotion of People of Color in the environmental movement, and recommendations.

Membership Is Diversifying. Our Institutions Should Follow Suit | Credit Union Journal

  • Together, the Credit Union National Association, state credit union leagues and associations, credit union service organizations, individual CUs and other strategic partners are working to deepen DEI throughout the industry at both the organizational and member levels. This piece discusses how and why.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Big Green Nonprofits: Negotiating the Challenges | Nonprofit Quarterly

  • This article provides context, definitions, trends, and recommendations for culture change in the environmental nonprofit sector that incentivizes racially and culturally inclusive boards, executives and staff, and broadens the engagement in the mission of communities and people from all walks of life.

Gender Lens Investing

Closing the VC Gender Gap, with Jon Avidor and Tracy Warren | Thrive Global

  • In this interview, experts explore how to create “layered accountability” for closing the gender gap in venture capital.

(Listen) How Gender Equality Can Help Build Sustainable Peace | Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

  • In this podcast and article, Corry Van Gaal from Global Affairs Canada, Durreen Shahnaz from IIX and Wharton's Sherryl Kuhlman discuss how empowering women can reduce risks and enhance overall outcomes for impact investors.

Legal & General Investment Management America Hosts Event on Gender Equality, Sustainable Investing and Boardroom Diversity | Yahoo Finance

  • Legal & General Investment Management America (LGIMA), an investment solutions provider with nearly $191 billion in assets under management, hosted a dynamic event covering topics such as corporate governance, gender equality, diverse leadership and the firm's global leadership in advancing sustainable investing issues. Key takeaways included: Opportunities and challenges of being a female leader in the finance industry, the impact of the 30% Club on board diversity in the UK, and differences in the state of gender equality initiatives in the U.S. and UK.

Student Managed Funds

DePauw Grants $1M from Endowment to Student Investment Group | Indianapolis Business Journal

  • DePauw’s board of trustees added $1 million from the university’s $731 million endowment to the DePauw Investment Group student managed fund. Jeff Cozad, a member of DePauw’s board of trustees and chairman of its investment committee, said that after he learned about the student investment group a couple of years ago, he wanted to provide it an even more substantial, real-life investing experience. “I thought, boy, this could be a really neat collaboration between the students, the faculty, the administration … and the trustees,” said Cozad, co-founder and managing partner of Stonerise Capital Partners in San Francisco.

Investment Firm News

MSCI Expands Climate Solutions with the Launch of New Climate Change Indexes | MSCI

  • MSCI announced the expansion of its range of climate indexes to help investors navigate and measure the investment opportunities and risks associated with the transition to a low carbon economy. The new MSCI Climate Change Indexes are part of a holistic toolkit to help investors build more climate resilient portfolios and integrate climate risk considerations in their global equity investment process, through a simple, rules-based reweighting methodology.

Morgan Stanley Adds Six New $10,000 Minimum Impact Portfolios to Investing with Impact Platform | Business Wire

  • Morgan Stanley Wealth Management announced the launch of a new suite of Impact Portfolios with a $10,000 minimum on its Investing with Impact platform. These portfolios aim to provide investors with an accessible solution to help integrate impact objectives into an investment plan without sacrificing performance potential. The six Portfolios utilize a range of Investing with Impact objectives including restriction screening, environmental, social and governance integration, and thematic investing.

BlackRock Expands Sustainable Multi-asset Investment Offering with Charity Fund | Investment Europe

  • BlackRock has expanded its sustainable investment offering for UK Charities with the launch of the BlackRock Charities Growth & Income fund. The fund extends BlackRock's current range of charity multi-asset funds, which represent combined client assets of £545m. The fund aims to provide long-term capital growth and a steady income distribution by taking a flexible approach and investing globally in a wide range of assets across equities, bonds, property and other alternative investments, including renewable energy.

Fiera Infrastructure Becomes Member of GRESB | Yahoo Finance

  • Fiera Infrastructure, a leading global mid-market direct infrastructure investor and affiliate of Fiera Capital, has joined the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), the ESG benchmark for real assets. GRESB assesses, scores and benchmarks ESG performance data in order to provide standardized and validated data to the capital markets.

Economic & Policy Shifts

Pope Backs Carbon Pricing to Stem Global Warming and Appeals to Deniers | Reuters

  • Pope Francis said on Friday that carbon pricing is “essential” to stem global warming - his clearest statement yet in support of penalising polluters - and appealed to climate change deniers to listen to science. In an address to energy executives, he also called for “open, transparent, science-based and standardised” reporting of climate risk and a “radical energy transition” away from carbon to save the planet. At the meeting, the Pope called for action to address what he called a global “climate emergency.”

Sustainable finance: Commission Publishes Guidelines to Improve How Firms Report Climate-related Information | European Commission

  • The European Commission published new guidelines on corporate climate-related information reporting, as part of its Sustainable Finance Action Plan. These guidelines will provide companies with practical recommendations on how to better report the impact that their activities are having on the climate as well as the impact of climate change on their business. The Commission also welcomed the publication of three new important reports by the Technical Expert Group on sustainable finance, including key recommendations on the types of economic activities that can make a real contribution to climate change mitigation or adaptation (taxonomy).


Climate Risk, Science, and Clean Energy

Future Climate Shifts Could Pose Risks to the U.S. Energy System | Council on Foreign Relations

  • A recent Council on Foreign Relations workshop concluded that U.S. energy infrastructure is increasingly at risk to climactic changes and that the United States is ill prepared to address those risks, which are a serious matter of national security. The workshop report recommended that Congress require the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to update risk assessments to include detailed analysis by geography, infrastructure type, and detail of potential specific climate hazards to better identify future climate-related vulnerabilities.

Philippines Tops List of Countries Facing Climate Risk | Philippine Star

  • The Philippines has topped the list of countries facing the highest risk of climate change hazards, according to the latest Global Peace Index released by Australia-based independent think tank Institute for Economics and Peace. It noted that 47 percent of the population live in areas with high exposure to climate hazards.

Flooding Creates Big Marine ‘Dead Zone’ in Gulf of Mexico | Bloomberg

  • Fertilizer runoff amid rampant flooding in the U.S. will contribute to a nearly record-large “dead zone” for marine life in the Gulf of Mexico this summer. The recurring hypoxin zone, caused primarily by human activities, has low levels or no oxygen, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in an emailed report. Widespread flooding this year washed crop nutrients into rivers and subsequently into the Gulf.

(Listen) Why Climate Change Is a 'Threat Multiplier' | Yale Climate Connections

  • Security experts say extreme weather and water shortages increase the risk of political instability and terrorism. That’s why the Department of Defense calls climate change a “threat multiplier.”

General Higher Education Endowment News

Mount Holyoke College Seeks CIO | Pensions & Investments

  • Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Mass., is conducting a search for its first CIO. Executive recruiting firm Fraser Keating Associates is conducting the search. The CIO will be responsible for managing the college's $780 million endowment and generating 25% of the college's annual operating revenue.


General Higher Education Sustainability News

(Opinion) How Britain's Universities Can Be The Key To Our Carbon Neutral Revolution | Huffington Post

  • Conservative MP and universities minister Chris Skidmore argues that Universities are cornerstones of our society – they can set an example and lead the charge on clean growth. As civic institutions, universities are in a strong position to help us set an example and lead the charge in this area. Not least because much of the research that goes on in our universities is already focused on tackling the grand challenges and helping us build a better world for the future.

Greta is Coming. Sterling College President Stands with Students Across the World | Medium

  • The President of Sterling College writes in this opinion piece that “students increasingly view higher education as broken, unjust, and even corrupt. Their confidence in us as “not for profit” institutions and stewards of their futures is in serious jeopardy. As ecological and social collapse accelerates, our institutions will be seen as the problem, not the solution. College campuses are training grounds for the technological means and economic justification for growth. Our contribution to the cataclysmic effects of climate change are manifestly obvious and their objections will not be placated by the green-washing of our campuses and tepid promises about sustainability.”


Divestment Campaigns

Large Exxon Shareholder Starts Divesting Over Climate Change | Bloomberg

  • One of Britain’s biggest fund managers started selling shares in Exxon Mobil Corp., saying America’s largest oil company isn’t doing enough to address climate change. Legal & General Investment Management, which oversees about $1.3 trillion and is one of Exxon’s top 20 shareholders, said some of its funds have already divested from the company and will ask its clients if it can withdraw more money.

Black Harvard Students Want The University To Divest From The Prison-Industrial Complex | Essence

  • Harvard University students are attempting to push the institution to divest from the prison-industrial complex. For a center of learning that claims to value truth above all else, these students say that Harvard’s significant investment in the suffering of others delegitimizes that stated value. Poring through SEC filings, the campaign says that they were able to determine that at least 3 million dollars of Harvard‘s 39.2 billion dollar endowment were being funneled into the prison-industrial complex. The students stress that they know the details of only a small portion of the endowment — 425 million dollars.

Extinction Rebellion Protests Trinity Fossil Fuel Investments | Varsity

  • Around 25 members of Extinction Rebellion (XR) staged a peaceful protest outside Trinity College Great Gate earlier in opposition to the College’s investments in fossil fuel industries. In November, a Varsity and Cherwell investigation revealed that Trinity College has £9.1m invested in companies involved in oil and gas exploration, production, and refinement - the largest amount of the 45 Oxbridge colleges that responded to Varsity and Cherwell Freedom of Information Requests. Seven Cambridge colleges have holdings totalling £20.7m in such companies, it was revealed.

Activists Occupy University of Manchester | Ecologist

  • Students at the University of Manchester (UK) set up camp outside the office of the Vice Chancellor to put pressure on the University to remove its £11.3 million of investments in the fossil fuel industry as part of the People & Planet campaign.

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:

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

Out On a Limb: The State of Corporate No-Deforestation Commitments & Reporting Indicators that Count | Ceres, June 26, 2019, 10am EDT (webinar)

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.

Sustainable Investment Forum North America 2019 | UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative, September 25, 2019, New York, NY (Climate Week)

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

Get up to date IEN News

Sign up for our Newsletters