Weekly News Round-Up: August 30, 2019

Ahead of the Labor Day weekend, we are putting the finishing touches on the agenda for our September 6th IEN Roundtable on ESG and Community Impact Investing - and there is still time to join the conversation!  We also look forward to connecting as a network after the holiday weekend for our September 4th webinar exploring the new Operating Principles for Impact Management.

We’re also thrilled to announce that registration is now open for our 2020 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit! Visit the updated event site to register your team, meet our announced keynote speakers, and learn more about partnership opportunities. The call for session proposals remains open until September 30, and we are continuing to shape the dedicated Intentionally Designed Endowment Forum track during the Summit, which will run from 9:20am-2:45pm on Tuesday, February 25th.

New IEN Members
 

Opportunities for Action

Investor Letter to SEC on Shareholder Rights | US SIF

  • Deadline: September 9, 2020. The SEC has indicated that it will initiate a rulemaking in the near future (exact timing unclear) on Rule 14a-8 that will likely weaken shareholder’s rights. We anticipate that the proposed rulemaking will seek to increase the ownership thresholds necessary to file a proposal and the resubmission thresholds for proposals to gain access to the proxy in subsequent years. We are circulating the attached investor letter and encourage your firm to sign on. For additional background information, you may visit the newly launched website www.InvestorRightsForum.com

Climate Survey | Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership at Columbia Law School

  • This global survey seeks to understand how - if at all - institutional investors and board directors incorporate climate related issues in their investment decision making and their oversight responsibilities, respectively.
  • Deadline: September 4, 2019. To mark the 30th convening of The SRI Conference, organizers announced a new annual award designed to spotlight and nurture the emerging generation of leaders who will guide the SRI/ESG/impact investing industry well into the second half of the 21st Century.

Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change | Investor Agenda

  • Deadline: September 6, 2019. Asset owners and asset managers in IEN are encouraged to sign the Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change. To add your organization’s name to the statement, please complete this short form. There is no cost to sign the statement and no further actions are required of signatories. In addition to signing the global investor statement, we strongly encourage you to take action in the other areas of The Investor Agenda: Investment, Corporate Engagement, and Investor Disclosure. If you have any questions or need additional information, please email Chris Fox at fox@ceres.org.

2020 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit Call for Proposals | Intentional Endowments Network and Second Nature

  • Deadline: September 30, 2019. Colleagues from all disciplines, backgrounds, and perspectives are encouraged to submit proposals for next-level conversations, workshops, and concurrent sessions for the 2020 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit. If you have more general ideas for shaping the Summit, please submit them here.

Sign-on Opportunities:

 

New Resources & Reports

Sustainable Campus Index 2019 | AASHE

  • The 2019 Sustainable Campus Index (SCI) recognizes top-performing colleges and universities overall by institution type and in 17 sustainability impact areas, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), a voluntary framework used by hundreds of colleges and universities to measure, report, and strengthen their contributions to global sustainability. The SCI also highlights innovative and high-impact initiatives from participating institutions. Top performers on Investment & Finance indicators include IEN members Lewis & Clark College, Hampshire College, members of the University of California system, and Arizona State University.
 

Sustainable Investing By Institutional Asset Owners

University of Pittsburgh to Develop Socially Responsible Investing Strategies | The Pitt News

  • Chancellor Patrick Gallagher announced Tuesday the University will begin developing socially responsible investing strategies for Pitt’s endowment. The announcement follows the July release of a report examining several aspects of socially responsible investments within institutional endowments across the country.

Major Endowments Prod Oil Firms to Ignore Trump’s Methane Rollback | Bloomberg

  • Investors including Harvard University’s endowment, the Church of England and California State Teachers’ Retirement System, are asking oil companies to ignore the Trump administration’s plan to let them off the hook for monitoring -- and stopping -- methane leaks. The investors, who represent more than $5.5 trillion in assets, want the companies to publicly oppose deregulation.

Place-Based Shareholder Engagement: Where Community and Corporate Purpose Meet | Aspen Institute

  • Incourage Community Foundation CEO Kelly Ryan describes how the foundation has used its endowment investment portfolio to establish active ownership positions in traded companies headquartered – or with substantial operations – in Wisconsin, including the establishment of the Wisconsin Shared Stewardship Equities Fund, a customized passive index fund, and working with a range of partners from across the nation to formulate Corporate Community Stewardship principles.

Norway’s Biggest Funds Tell Companies to Halt Damage of Amazon | Bloomberg

  • Norway’s biggest investors, with combined assets under management of about $170 billion, are telling companies to make sure they don’t contribute to environmental damage in Brazil’s Amazon as fires roar through the rainforest.
 

Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

What Should Trustees Do About Climate Change? | Aon

  • This white paper identifies five key climate change risks facing trustees today, explains the pressure on trustees to address these risks, and suggests actions to help address these risks.

We Are Facing a Global Emergency in the Amazon. Here's What We Can Do | WLOS

  • In this opinion piece, the executive directors of Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network argue for investors to demand changes from the oil, mining, and agribusiness operations that contribute to the violation of indigenous rights and further the expansion of development into the Amazon.

ESG Bond Managers Reluctant to Ditch Brazil Despite Amazon Fires | Citywire Selector

  • Fires in the Amazon came to the fore last week and continue to generate attention after the Brazilian government rejected the G7's offer of $22 million aid. In the world of finance, asset management firms were reluctant to offer immediate responses to the crisis despite the increased emphasis on ESG approaches. 

The Change the World Sustainability All Stars | Fortune

  • This list profiles companies that scored highest on Refinitiv’s Sustainable Leadership Monitor, a metric that assesses companies based on their environmental innovation, resource use, and efforts to limit emissions, among other factors.

ESG Performance Also Matters for Pre-IPO Companies | GreenBiz

  • This post looks at recent IPOs and argues that both ESG performance and effective storytelling about ESG themes are important to engaging investors.

ESG Investment Risk Mitigation: Supply Chain Review | JD Supra

  • This article provides a brief overview both of the evolution of the ESG context in which ethical supply chain review is most often discussed within the investment industry, and of the expanding legal framework underlying ethical supply chain enforcement efforts around the world, from the perspective of the mid-market investment fund managers who may not be fully aware of these issues and who may benefit from a brief look at the issues relevant to their industry.

ESG Data Getting Better as the Market Matures | Investment News

  • The relentless pursuit of information drives demand in the direction of what works in practice. That is what appears to be happening in the ESG space. Legislators and regulators are lagging indicators of where demand is leading us.
 

Shareholder Engagement

BlackRock Takes Aim at CEOs Serving on Other Companies' Boards | Reuters

  • BlackRock is stepping up opposition to U.S. CEOs who sit on more than one corporate board beside their own, arguing that working as a director takes increasingly more time. BlackRock cast votes against 94 chief executives running for re-election to corporate boards outside of their own in this year’s proxy season, up from 32 last year.

Justin Welby: Investors Must Pressure Firms to Act on Climate Crisis | The Guardian

  • The archbishop of Canterbury has criticised the investment industry for inaction over the climate crisis and called on fund managers to push companies to reduce their impact on the environment. Justin Welby said fund managers had “not sufficiently stepped up to the plate” to use their ownership of companies to press for change.

Traits of High-performing Boards … and Steps Toward Becoming One | Commonfund

  • This blog is excerpted from a presentation at the Commonfund Investment Stewardship Academy at the Yale School of Management.
 

Community Impact Investing

Capital Impact Partners Launches 2019 A+ Rated Investment Note Offering to Engage Investor Support for Underinvested Communities | PR Newswire

  • Capital Impact Partners, a nonprofit corporation, certified as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), announced the launch its 2019 Capital Impact Investment Notes Prospectus and S&P Global A+ rating. The Investment Notes allow retail and institutional investors the opportunity to invest in nationwide efforts to create social impact for underinvested communities.

Harvard Recommits $20M to Create Local Affordable Housing | Harvard Gazette

  • Through the Harvard Local Housing Collaborative, the University has partnered with three local, nonprofit community-development lenders to create and preserve affordable housing, build and revitalize healthy communities, and create economic opportunities for low- and middle-income residents throughout the region. The partners include Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), BlueHub Capital (formerly Boston Community Capital), and the Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust.

Place-Based Shareholder Engagement: Where Community and Corporate Purpose Meet | Aspen Institute

  • Incourage Community Foundation CEO Kelly Ryan describes how the foundation has used its endowment investment portfolio to establish active ownership positions in traded companies headquartered – or with substantial operations – in Wisconsin, including the establishment of the Wisconsin Shared Stewardship Equities Fund, a customized passive index fund, and working with a range of partners from across the nation to formulate Corporate Community Stewardship principles.

Investments in ‘People and Places’ Start to Demonstrate Impact in Opportunity Zones | Impact Alpha

  • This article provides an overview of the evolution of Opportunity Zone investing this year as capital has begun to flow to projects that promote inclusive development and community empowerment.

Can Affordable Housing Help Build a Stronger Portfolio? | ThinkAdvisor

  • Although it may not seem as sexy as investing in gleaming new rental high-rises, affordable housing (Low Income Housing Tax Credit, Article XI, 421-A, and other programs) can actually be a more solid investment proposition than market rate properties. Moreover, affordable housing offers the opportunity to invest in an asset class that has the potential to produce market rate returns or better, that also enables mission-based or impact investing in the service of ESG considerations.
 

Green Bonds

Green Bonds Can Solve Our Climate Crisis | Forbes

  • This article argues that there is significant “untapped potential” in the utility market to expand the issuance of green bonds.
 

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Why this Investor Left the Pursuit of Billion-dollar Exits to Help Employers Hire People with Autism | CNBC

  • Brian Jacobs is leaving Emergence Capital to start his own firm, Moai Capital, where he’ll invest in start-ups focused on the “huge employment gap” for people with autism. He started researching the subject after his son, who’s now 24, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Jacobs co-founded Emergence in 2003, and his firm notched huge gains from early bets on Veeva Systems and Zoom.

Los Angeles County Drafting Policy to Encourage Diversity on Bond Teams | Bond Buyer

  • The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors wants to bring more diversity to the finance teams that work on the county's multi-billion dollar bond program. With that in mind, the supervisors gave the treasurer and tax collector 180 days to work with the county counsel and other relevant agencies to come back with recommendations for a public finance diversity and inclusion initiative.

Peloton’s Equal Pay Pledge Could Signal New Transparency Trend | Bloomberg Law

  • Home fitness startup Peloton Interactive Inc. is pledging to pay employees equally across race and gender as part of its pitch to go public.
 

Gender Lens Investing

Women Investing In Femtech II: Closing the Gender Gaps in Investment and Health Innovation | Forbes

  • This article profiles women investors who are making capital accessible to women and femme startup founders and investing in a category whose sole purpose is that of improving women’s health and quality of life, building innovative tools to help them navigate the physical, psychological - and even logistic! - changes that are part of a woman’s health journey.
 

Investment Firm News

Entertainer-endorsed VC ‘The Fearless Fund’ Will Provide Capital and Influence to Women of Color Founders | Hypepotamus

  • A new venture capital firm has launched to reap returns from a highly-underrepresented demographic: women of color entrepreneurs. Statistically, this population represents less than one percent of the total venture capital dollars raised — despite being one of the most-educated and entrepreneurial groups in the U.S. The Fearless Fund, founded by Atlanta women Arian Simone and Keshia Knight Pulliam, will deploy $5 million in pre-seed, seed, and Series A startups. The fund already has five portfolio companies and plans to invest in about 20 over the next few years.

Apollo Global Management to Join Impact Investing Market with $1 Billion Fundraising Plan | Business Times

  • Apollo Global Management LLC has set its eyes on the latest investment trend in the market today, impact investing. People with direct knowledge of the plans said the firm is thinking of gathering $1 billion in funding to jumpstart the initiative.

LGT Acquires Leading Indian Impact Investor Aspada from Soros Economic Development | Yahoo Finance

  • LGT, the international private banking and asset management group owned by the Princely House of Liechtenstein, is acquiring Aspada, a leading India-focused impact investment fund, to expand its impact investing platform, LGT Lightstone.
 

Economic & Policy Shifts

Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, and 30 Other Companies Tell the Business Roundtable CEOs to Put Up or Shut Up | Fast Company

  • The B Corp movement, comprised of over 10,000 benefit corporations that have legally committed to uphold the intent behind the Business Roundtable's new “purpose of a corporation” definition, is urging the Business Roundtable to join the B Corp movement and turn their statement into action. Current B Corporation companies include heavyweights like Ben & Jerry’s, Kickstarter, Patagonia, Danone, Hootsuite, Eileen Fisher, Amalgamated Bank, Stonyfield Organic, Natura, and more.

Redefined Purpose of a Corporation: Welcoming the Debate | Business Roundtable

Johnson & Johnson Was Ordered to Pay $572 Million for Its Role in the Opioid Crisis. With Similar Lawsuits Across the Country, That Could Be Just the Beginning | Time

  • An Oklahoma judge ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million for its role in the opioid crisis in a historic ruling, marking the first time an opioid manufacturer has been deemed responsible in court and made to pay damages. It could have implications for the slew of lawsuits filed against opioid manufacturers and distributors throughout the country.

Bundesbank Cheers on Green Crusade as Climate Risks Increase | Bloomberg

  • Germany’s central bank is buffing up its green credentials as part of an international effort to spur lenders to brace for the fallout from climate change. The Bundesbank is heading a review of central-bank strategies to support sustainable investments, and scrutinizing the dynamics of the quickly growing market. Together with its peers, it’s working on a handbook on the role of monetary authorities in fostering the greening of financial markets, to be published in October during the IMF meetings.
 

Climate Risk, Science, and Clean Energy

What Does '12 Years to Act on Climate Change' (Now 11 Years) Really Mean? | Inside Climate News

  • It doesn't mean the world can wait until 2030 to cut greenhouse gas emissions, or that chaos will erupt in 2030. This article concisely explains what the science shows.

U.S. Seen as Climate Risk With Two-Thirds of New Oil and Gas | Bloomberg

  • The U.S. will account for almost two-thirds of the world’s new oil and natural gas output in the decade ahead, making it a critical obstacle to stopping climate pollution, a London-based advocacy group says.

Can Blockchain Catalyze Carbon Removal? | Greenbiz

  • This post explores how blockchain technology could allow buyers and sellers to trade more directly and eliminate some fraud concerns recently raised about the existing carbon offset marketplace.

Inside ExxonMobil's Hookup with Carbon Removal Venture Global Thermostat | Greenbiz

  • The announcement that ExxonMobile will work to bring a carbon renewal company’s technology to scale is the latest indicator that fossil fuel companies are looking ahead towards a world that’s far less friendly towards their products and the emissions they produce. Earlier this year, the venture arms of Occidental Petroleum and Chevron jointly invested in Carbon Engineering, one of Global Thermostat’s competitors.

Why Deforestation Policies Mean Stranded Land Assets | Innovation Forum

  • We’ve heard a lot about the threat of stranded assets in the fossil fuel industry with the world moving toward compliance with the Paris agreement on climate change. In fact, assets in the land sector are also likely to be at risk, as consumers, businesses and policy makers shift toward more sustainable food and agricultural development to reduce deforestation and mitigate other factors related to climate change.

Climate Change Could Rain on Saudi Aramco's IPO Parade | U.S. News & World Report

  • The state energy giant's vast oil reserves – it can sustain current production levels for the next 50 years – make it more exposed than any other company to a rising tide of environmental activism and shift away from fossil fuels.
 
 

General Higher Education Endowment News

Takahashi to Leave Yale Investments Office, Focus on Combating Climate Change | Yale Daily News

  • Senior director of the Yale Investments Office Dean Takahashi ’80 SOM ’83, who has helped invent the “Yale Model” for endowment management, will leave his current post to focus on combating climate change. While the details of Takahashi’s future plans remain unclear, the investment officer said he will remain at the University “to do all [he] can to combat climate change.” In a statement to the News, Takahashi said he will continue teaching and developing new approaches to reducing greenhouse gases.

The Ivy League’s Two-Year Win Streak Could Be Over | Institutional Investor

  • Ivy League endowment returns have beaten a simple portfolio of stocks and bonds each of the last two years. But research firm MPI predicts that elite funds will lag behind in fiscal 2019.

A New Tax on Big College and University Endowments Is Sending Higher Education a Message | The Conversation

  • This analysis of the targeted 1.4% tax on net investment income applied to a small number of large endowments in the 2017 tax legislation argues that the structure of the tax implicitly warns elite schools that they need to do a better job of serving low-income students.
 

General Higher Education Sustainability News

Researchers, community partners seek to develop Lower Great Lakes research network on sustainability and resilience | University at Buffalo

  • A recent workshop laid the foundation for a region-wide research network, and developing ideas for integrated research projects — with and for community stakeholders — that an NSF-supported network could carry out. Attendees from around Lake Erie and Lake Ontario included researchers or sustainability and resilience officers from eight universities (University at Buffalo, the University of Michigan, the University of Toledo, Cleveland State University, Penn State Behrend, SUNY ESF, SUNY Oswego and Clarkson University), as well as representatives of the indigenous tribes, local, state and federal agencies, and community organizations such as Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, GObike Buffalo, the local chapter of the Sierra Club, and the African Heritage Food Cooperative.

Villanova University Unveils $225M Sustainable Housing Project | Environmental Leader

  • Villanova University has unveiled new campus housing transformed by sustainable infrastructure to address stormwater management and climate change, and to increase resiliency to the destructive heavy rains that hit across the country in 2019.
 

Divestment Campaigns

Marlborough Church Takes Climate Commitment One Step Further | Sentinel Source

  • A New Hampshire church has decided to divest from companies that deal primarily in fossil fuels, following the lead of other churches affiliated with the United Church of Christ.

As the Amazon Burns, Students Call on Harvard to Divest from Farmland Holdings | Harvard Crimson

  • As the Amazon rainforest continues to burn, members of Divest Harvard — a student group demanding the University divest from fossil fuels — are renewing their calls on Harvard to withdraw its holdings in farmland across the globe, including in Brazil.

Op-Ed: Frustrated by the Lack of Action on Climate Change and Gun Violence? Divest | Los Angeles Times

  • This op-ed argues that Californians frustrated by Congress’s failure to pass climate and gun control legislation have a potentially potent tool to produce the change they want: divestment.
 

Partnership Opportunities
 
Calendar of Upcoming Events

IEN Events:

IEN Webinar: Beyond ESG, Towards Impact & the SDGs | Intentional Endowments Network, September 4, 2019, 1-2pm EDT (webinar)

ESG & 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. Provide input to shape the agenda here, or propose a session topic here!

Other Events:

Seeing SRI in Context: Emerging Strategies for Socially Responsible Investing in College Endowments | NACUBO, September 4, 2019 1:00-2:15pm ET (webinar with registration fee)

Faith-based Impact Investing: Growing the Field | GIIN, September 4, 2019 10 - 11am EDT (webinar)

2019 Family Office Impact Summit | United Nations, September 5, 2019, New York, NY. Family office members of IEN are eligible for discounted registration.

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

It’s About Time: A Call to Advance Racial Equity in the Investment Industry | Confluence Philanthropy, September 10, 2019 9:30-10:30am PT / 12:30-1:30 ET (webinar - open to members of Confluence Philanthropy, as well as non-member grant-makers and values investors)

Total Impact Family Office and Foundation Conference | ACG New York, Alberleen Family Office Solutions, and Good Capital Project, September 10, 2019, New York, NY. This event is intended for asset owners, including higher education endowments and foundations; agenda themes include Climate change mitigation and resource efficiency; Healthcare; Housing and infrastructure; Sustainable agriculture; and Investing in women. For an invitation to the event, please reach out to IEN.

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)

Regenerative Food Systems Investment Forum | RFSI Forum, September 30-October 1, 2019, Oakland, CA IEN Members can use special DISCOUNT CODE: IEN-15 and get 15% off registration.

Business, Investments & the SDGs: A Powerful Opportunity for Shared Prosperity | University of New Hampshire, October 1, 2019, 12:40-2pm, Durham, NH

GIIN Investor Forum | GIIN, October 2-3, 2019, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Interested members should contact hannah@intentionalendowments.org to access a 10% off registration IEN Member discount code.

Color of Education Summit | Public School Forum of NC, The Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity, and Policy Bridge at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, October 26, 2019, Raleigh, NC

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. Asset owner IEN members are eligible for complementary registration.

GreenBiz 20 | GreenBiz, February 4-6, 2020, Phoenix, AZ

Croatan Forum 2020 | Croatan Institute, April 27-29, 2020, Durham, NC

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