Weekly News Round-Up: July 20th, 2018

 
Weekly News Round-Up: July 20th, 2018

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

Also, registration is still open for Thursday's webinar on Divesting from Climate Science Deniers - The Barnard College Story, taking place at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Have a great weekend,

Nicole

Program Manager

The Intentional Endowments Network

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New Resources 

Social Equity Investing - Righting Institutional Wrongs l Cambridge Associates

  • This paper reviews the current state of social equity in the U.S., highlighting eight core social equity issue areas, and discussing lessons learned in constructing portfolios with these investments. While investors need to be mindful of risks, this paper discusses how investments can be made to promote a social equity impact agenda across the portfolio.

A Guide to ESG Portfolio Construction l Aperio

  • This paper explores We six quantitative ESG strategies that offer different approaches to the trade-off between excess risk and undesired ESG attributes that can align investors’ portfolios with their ethical and financial views.
 
Opportunities for Action

Sign-on Opportunity: Investor Letter to the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) on Their 5-year Standards Revision and ESG Factors l Ceres

  • This investor letter is to the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), and closes on Tuesday, 7/31. Changes to the current standard must be made if the RSPO is to become a credible and inclusive verification system, which assesses compliance with a No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation (NDPE) standard.

Scholarship Opportunity to Attend Global Climate Action Summit l Youth Step Up

  • This contest, organized by Our Climate, invites young people from across the U.S. to submit their ideas for bold solutions to combat climate change via a creative project and essay. Winners will receive prizes of up to $5,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to attend the summit in San Francisco on September 12-14, 2018. The goal of the contest is to engage young people from across the U.S. in international climate discussions and accelerate even greater levels of youth action on climate solutions. Submissions are due August 3.

WISE Client Application Fall '18 l Wharton Social Impact Initiative

  • Wharton Social Impact Initiative's (WSII) Wharton Impact Student Experience (WISE) offers opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students across Wharton and Penn to work on student projects with clients throughout the semester. This application is for organizations applying to be a WISE client this Fall. Applications are due COB on JULY 27th.
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance

  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how carbon traders are preparing for the worst after the U.K. government suggested that it might withdraw from the world’s biggest emissions-trading market when the country leaves the European Union next year; Electric race cars are showcasing the batteries of the future; Biomass investment is down; Multi-class stocks would face more disclosures in U.S. House bill; Tesla's Elon Musk on his "last bet-the-company situation." 

Making Land Investment Accessible for Today’s Organic Farmers l B The Change

  • This Q&A article highlights Iroquois Valley Farmland Real Estate Investment Trust, a restorative farmland finance company that is helping organic and regenerative farmers gain long-term, secure access to land through farmland investment. By offering equity and debt investments, the company is able to provide favorable leasing and mortgage opportunities to farmers.

How ESG Investing Entered the Mainstream l Raconteur

  • This article explores examples of how, if ESG factors are ingrained in investors’ thinking, then a triple-win will follow – more valuable companies, more value for end-investors and, ultimately, a more sustainable system. 

Sustainable Investing Grows in Popularity, But is Dogged by Performance Questions l Market Watch

  • This article outlines the variety of new SRI funds that have opened this year, the reasons for such strong growth in the field, and an overview of the research on returns and financial implications of integrating SRI considerations into a portfolio. 

University of Delaware Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance Selected as Successor Organization to IRRC Institute l Business Wire

  • The Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute (IRRCi) today announced that it has selected the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance (Weinberg Center) at the University of Delaware as its successor organization. The Weinberg Center will receive a grant from IRRCi in excess of $1 million as part of the successor transition. With these funds, the Weinberg Center will materially expand its ESG and capital market research, and also maintain the full IRRCi research library so that more than 75 research reports remain publicly available at no cost.
 
Shareholder Engagement

The Investment Stewardship Ecosystem l BlackRock ViewPoints

  • This piece lays out the roles of various stakeholders in the investment stewardship ecosystem, including asset managers, asset owners, index providers, and proxy advisors, and outlines BlackRock's Investment Stewardship approach and their engagement and proxy voting philosophy.
 
Fiduciary Duty

Fiduciary Duty Guardrails: How the Recent DOL Guidance Impacts Consideration of ESG Factors in Investment Decisions and Shareholder Engagement l Reinhart

  • This article discusses how on April 23, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued Field Assistance Bulletin 2018‑01 (“FAB 2018‑01”), the latest guidance from the DOL regarding the integration of ESG factors into investment decision making and shareholder engagement.  FAB 2018‑01 conveys a cautionary tone but does not materially deviate from prior DOL guidance supporting integration of economically material ESG considerations.
 
 Racial Justice & Gender Lens Investing

Looking for a Competitive Edge? Embrace Diversity l Investment News

  • Diversity-lens investing is one of the fast-growing categories of sustainable and impact investing. This article discusses how looking at diversity, equity, and inclusion is one of the best ways to boost a company's ability to compete involves hiring diverse team members and giving them ample support and influence. 

Women Leaders In Sustainable Finance: Modeling The Future–Part 7 l Financial Advisor

  • This is the seventh article of a series that has been released over the past six months, containing interviews with over 20 women who are investment industry trendsetters and innovators through their work in the impact and sustainable finance sector. They are embracing both as many economic sectors transition toward a regenerative, low carbon economy with greater emphasis on the value of intangible corporate assets and social impact enterprises. 

How Educating Girls Netted a 15% Return l Barron's

  • This article points to a case study that looks at a development impact bond associated with the non-profit group Educate Girls. In this case study, the goals involved getting more girls in the Indian state of Rajasthan to enroll and excel in school. With this goals met after three years, the UBS Optimus Foundation recouped its initial $270,000 investment plus a 15% return.
 
Climate Risk, Science, Regulation & Clean Energy

Exxon Mobil Joins Exodus of Firms From Lobbying Group ALEC l Reuters

  • Exxon Mobil said on Thursday it ended its association with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative political group that several other prominent U.S. corporations have left in recent years. ALEC, a coalition of state lawmakers and companies that proposes legislation, has been criticized for its stance on climate change, tort reform and gun control. In recent years, it has lost dozens of members, including BP, Royal Dutch Shell Group, Ford Motor, and Expedia Group.

Starbucks to Eliminate Plastic Straws by 2020 l The Wall Street Journal

  • Big companies are responding to mounting pressure from customers to stop serving drinks with plastic straws. Starbucks Corp. and Hyatt Hotels Corp. on Monday said they would phase out single-serve plastic straws and pledged to reduce packaging waste from their drinks and meals. McDonald’s Corp., meanwhile, is phasing out plastic straws.

This Island Nation is Making the Fastest Ever Shift to Renewables l Fast and Company

  • The island nation of Palau plans to stop buying diesel and go 100% solar by the end of 2019–and offer a blueprint for other island nations to do the same.

 

Investment Firm News 
  • This week marks the launch of Karner Blue Capital, one of the nation’s first investment firms to offer socially responsible strategies focused on animal welfare. Karner Blue Capital’s approach to “compassionate investing with impact” uses proprietary research to identify companies that exhibit industry leadership in their use and treatment of animals and animal habitats. The firm’s Global Animal Welfare Strategy includes up to 119 companies representing 18 industries ranging from food and beverage to information technology.

Socially-Responsible ETFs Now Come With a Twist l Bloomberg

  • A nonprofit investment manager is starting a group of “socially responsible” exchange-traded funds that could change the face of values-based investing. Their twist: a little help from the experts themselves. Impact Shares Corp.’s NAACP Minority Empowerment ETF, ticker NACP, is expected to start trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. The fund is the first in what the firm hopes to be a a series of ETFs that hone in on single issues rather than broad ESG strategies that focus on environmental, social and governance issues all together.

Impax Unveils Global ESG Fund Following $90m Merger l CityWire

  • Impax Asset Management has launched the Pax Global Opportunities fund, a new ESG-focused global equity strategy.  The fund launched with about $27 million in assets and is the first fund Impax has launched since its deal to purchase ESG specialist Pax World Management closed in January. Impax now manages around $15.46 billion.

J.P. Morgan Alternative Asset Management Launches ESG Forum Promoting ESG Integration to Hedge Fund Managers l Cision

  • This week, JPMAAM hosted its first ESG Forum at its New York headquarters, bringing together a diverse range of hedge fund managers interested in learning more about institutional client interest in ESG, enhancing alpha with ESG, and best practices for incorporating ESG factors into their businesses.

S&P Dow Jones Indices Launches Benchmark With Future Carbon Price Risks l Asian Asset Management

  • S&P Dow Jones Indices has launched what it says is a first of its kind benchmark incorporating future carbon prices, aimed at helping market players understand the financial risks of higher carbon emitters. The S&P Carbon Price Risk Adjusted Index Series, which comprises 12 indices, seeks to "measure the performance of companies in each respective underlying index with a weighting scheme based on estimated company market valuation at risk from predicted 2030 carbon prices".
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment

University College Cork to Divest From All Projects With Significant Environmental Impacts l Green News

  • University College Cork (UCC) has become the first Irish university to announce its divestment from all projects with adverse environmental consequences. Cork’s eco-conscious university confirmed the move by signing the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). UCC’s new eco-friendly measure follows the passage of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill through the Dáil last Thursday.

Council Commends Fossil Fuel and Nuclear Weapon Divestment l Scoop

  • The University of Göttingen (Germany) announced this week that they will end all investments in fossil fuel and nuclear energy industries. The move follows an appeal from students of the university organised by Fossil Free Göttingen, and a similar announcement by the City of Göttingen in May last year.
 
 
Calendar of Upcoming Events

Webinar: Divesting from Climate Science Deniers - The Barnard College Story l Intentional Endowments Network, July 26th, 2018, 1:00 am EST

Intentionally Designed Endowment Roundtable at the Appalachian Energy Summit l July 30th - August 1st, 2018, Boone, NC (by invitation)

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