Weekly News Round-Up: August 4th, 2017

New IEN Member
  • Eastern Washington University 
 
Upcoming Events
Intentionally Designed Endowment Roundtable | IEN, Center for Responsible Business at Berkeley-Haas, and BlackRock, Friday, Sept. 8th, 2017, Berkeley, CA 
  • Building on the success of previous events, the Intentional Endowments Network, in partnership with the Center for Responsible Business at Berkeley-Haas and BlackRock, is pleased to host an Intentionally Designed Endowment Roundtable for endowment decision-makers and stakeholders from institutions interested in enhancing their leadership on sustainable investing.
The SRI Conference l November 1-3, 2017, San Diego, CA
  • The SRI Conference – on Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing serves thought leaders and investment professionals working in the ESG, Shareowner Engagement, and Impact Investing space. Together, we are catalyzing the shift to a more socially equitable and environmentally sustainable future. We deliver education and inspiration — in between legendary networking opportunities.
New Reports & Resources
Podcast: "Unlocking Endowments for Impact" | Coalesce, Campus Sustainability Accelerator  
  • What are the facts, case studies, myths, and barriers to shifting how endowments are invested? Explore the evolving field of impact investing with Georges Dyer, Principal from the Intentional Endowments Network. (Scroll down on page to access the podcast) 

Book: EarthEd: Rethinking Education on a Changing Planet | Island Press

  • Earth education is traditionally confined to specific topics: ecoliteracy, outdoor education, environmental science. But in the coming century, on track to be the warmest in human history, every aspect of human life will be affected by our changing planet. Emerging diseases, food shortages, drought, and waterlogged cities are just some of the unprecedented challenges that today’s students will face. How do we prepare 9.5 billion people for life in the Anthropocene, to thrive in this uncharted and more chaotic future? Answers are being developed in universities, preschools, professional schools, and even prisons around the world.
Endowment Sustainable Investing News
Divested from Fossil Fuels Since 2011, Hampshire College Reports Endowment Investment Returns | Huffington Post
  • President, Johnathan Lash and Investment Committee Chair, Dick Hurd report on how and why Hampshire has aligned endowment investments with mission and sustainability outcomes -- and how investment returns have performed as a result: "Organizations can align their investment strategy with their educational and social mission, without forfeiting financial returns. The Daoist philosopher Lao Tzu observed that “the best way to teach is to be.” Students learn not just from professors but from the entire culture of their school. Every decision by faculty and administrators, whether on standards for free speech, curriculum, design of buildings, or how to invest endowment funds, has an impact." 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
Sustainable Finance | Bloomberg Briefs
  • A record volume of green bonds were issued in the first half of 2017, Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s monthly report shows. Corporate bonds with a clean energy focus are on the rise; Tesla burned through a record amount of cash before bringing out its most affordable model yet; Procter & Gamble says Nelson Peltz is confused about its business as a fight escalates.
  • Swiss Re, the world’s second-largest reinsurer, is 90 percent of the way through the process of shifting its entire $130 billion liquid asset portfolio towards ESG indices. It expects to complete the transition by the end of the third quarter of 2017. Risk-averse reinsurers's finances are being hit more often by the impact of climate-linked catastrophes, such as floods and hurricanes. That is prompting more frequent conversations in the corporate world around this challenge: How to help mitigate the risks that climate change poses in certain sectors and regions. Swiss Re's decision to tie its portfolio to ESG principles is, at least in part, motivated by a need to stay on top of what companies and sectors are actually doing.
Good returns don't require 'bad' investments | Houston Chronicle 
  • Good guys don't necessarily have to finish last when it comes to investing. For years, conventional wisdom said that do-gooders who only wanted to invest in responsible corporations would have to sacrifice rates of returns. Brokers claimed that if you cut out all the big companies that polluted waterways, produced harmful products or engaged in questionable management practices, you were going to leave money on the table. Two independent financial data analysis firms, though, found that focusing on environmental, social and governance factors - what the industry calls ESG - can actually outperform portfolios loaded with bad boy corporations.
  • On May 18, 2017, CAIA’s Boston Chapter held a panel discussion at the InterContinental Boston on “An Alternative Approach to Responsible Investing.” Moderated by Bill Kelly, CEO, CAIA Association, panelists included leading ESG investing experts Tim Brennan, Treasurer & CFO, Unitarian Universalist Association; Jeff Finkelman, CFA, Research Associate, Impact Investments, Athena Capital; and Lee Gardella, Managing Director, Head of Risk Management, Adveq Management.
Pension funds turn up ESG dial | Euromoney
  • Blue states lead lagging US on environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing; pension funds hold investment managers accountable.
More Evidence of Solid Performance From Sustainable Funds | Morningstar
  • Investors in funds that incorporate environmental, social, and governance factors into their process appear not to suffer a performance penalty.
Sustainability Gets A Trump Bump | Barron's
  • The Trump administration may want to gut the Environmental Protection Agency and roll back transgender rights, but increasing numbers of investors are pushing back by searching out companies with the best environmental, social and governance records, says Morningstar.

Governance
Investors want more women, minorities on corporate boards | Boston Globe
  • Big investors including the Massachuetts pension fund and State Street Global Advisors are pushing companies they invest in to diversify their boards. What do Amazon, Facebook, and Netflix have in common? Not a single person of color sits on their corporate boards. For that reason alone, the Massachusetts pension fund refused this year to support the slate of board nominees recommended by each company.
  • A new, first-of-its-kind investment mechanism could bridge the gap by unlocking private financing to stimulate investor demand for reducing deforestation. The Forests Bond will provide investors the opportunity to invest in a traditional financial product that offers the unique option of receiving interest payments in the form of environmental impact — in this case, verified carbon credits generated through REDD, an initiative that rewards landholders for protecting forests, thereby reducing carbon emissions that worsen climate change.

Investment Manager News
Rockefeller Foundation Backs Nonprofit ETF Startup | US News
  • The Rockefeller Foundation is helping to finance a startup hoping to build exchange-traded funds for nonprofit organizations and direct the profits back to their causes, officials from the group said with a plan to announce the initiative later on Tuesday.The foundation awarded a $300,000 grant to Impact Shares Corp, a Dallas-area organization that aims to offer charities the ability to create ETFs that will be sold to the public.
  • The Money Management Institute (MMI) has partnered with Morningstar in a joint initiative, the MMI/Morningstar Sustainable Investing Initiative, to help educate advisors about the sustainable investment opportunity, notably the incorporation of environmental, social and governance or ESG factors, and how to better implement these strategies in their practices.
General Endowment News
Higher ed institutions among nonprofits with largest endowment expansions | EducationDive
  • The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that nonprofits are increasingly growing their substantial endowments, with a significant portion of that growth occurring at colleges and universities: Harvard University added $11.1 billion from 2010 to 2015, a 44% increase, while Princeton University saw its endowment grow 90% in the same period with the addition of $10.5 billion.
Colonial Williamsburg's CEO blamed past decisions for its dire state | The Virginian Pilot
  • It was an announcement by Reiss in late June – laying out just how far Colonial Williamsburg had fallen, losing $277 million in five years and draining its endowment of more than $600 million in a decade – that surprised even longtime observers, donors and locals.

Sustainability & Climate Risk, Science and Regulation
 
By Tomorrow, We Will Have Consumed More Resources So Far This Year Than the Planet Is Capable of Regenerating | EcoWatch
  • We humans use a lot of stuff — so much stuff, in fact, that we consume more in a year than the planet is capable of regenerating. That wasn't a problem until a few decades ago. Back in 1987 the "overshoot" date for Earth's resources was December 19, less than two weeks before the end of the year. Thirty years later, however, that date has moved up—and up—and up. Last year what has now been dubbed "Earth Overshoot Day" had moved all the way up to August 8.
The Uninhabitable Earth | New York Magazine
  • A comprehensive look at the severity of the threats posed by climate change: "It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today. And yet the swelling seas — and the cities they will drown — have so dominated the picture of global warming, and so overwhelmed our capacity for climate panic, that they have occluded our perception of other threats, many much closer at hand. Rising oceans are bad, in fact very bad; but fleeing the coastline will not be enough..."
  • Even if humans could instantly turn off all our emissions of greenhouse gases, the Earth would continue to heat upabout two more degrees Fahrenheit by the turn of the century, according to a sophisticated new analysis.
In Sweltering South, Climate Change Is Now a Workplace Hazard | New York Times
  • Adolfo Guerra, a landscaper in this port city on the Gulf of Mexico, remembers panicking as his co-worker vomited and convulsed after hours of mowing lawns in stifling heat. Other workers rushed to cover him with ice, and the man recovered. But for Mr. Guerra, 24, who spends nine hours a day six days a week doing yard work, the episode was a reminder of the dangers that exist for outdoor workers as the planet warms.
 
Clean Energy
The Booming Wind Energy Industry Might Finally Break Its Massachusetts Hex | Huffington Post
  • The company behind North America’s first offshore wind farm unveiled plans this week to bring seaward turbines to Massachusetts. If the Bay State regulators give Deepwater Wind their blessing to build a massive wind farm in the waters between Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the burgeoning wind industry could finally break the curse of Cape Wind, the failed 24-square-mile project first proposed off Cape Cod 16 years ago. Renewable energy skeptics have long used Cape Wind’s failure as proof that turbines were too costly, dangerous and unpopular to serve as a top power source for the country.  
Fossil Fuel Divestment
  • It’s been a rough stretch for Wells Fargo. The bank has been in the news quite a bit lately over a series of fraud scandals and revelations about their questionable business practices, leading major cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago to pull funds from the bank. At the same time, a grassroots movement is growing to use divestment to hold Wells Fargo and other big banks accountable for their investments that prop up the dirty fossil fuel projects that threaten our communities and our climate.