Weekly News Round-Up: September 21st, 2018

 
Weekly News Round-Up: September 21st, 2018

Please find this week's news round-up below.  

We are thrilled to share that IEN Co-Founder Tony Cortese has been recognized for his leadership role in the formation of many key organizations that have guided the evolution sustainability in higher education by being honored with AASHE’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018. Please join us in congratulating Tony on this extremely well deserved award!

Have a great weekend,
Nicole

 

As a reminder, starting in October, full access to this round-up will become a members-only resource. Reference this message when joining IEN this month to receive 20% off your first year of membership dues. 

 

Nicole Harman 
Program Manager, The Intentional Endowments Network
www.intentionalendowments.org

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IEN in the News

2018 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner: Anthony Cortese l Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)

  • We are thrilled to share that IEN Co-Founder Tony Cortese has been recognized for his leadership role in the formation of many of the key organizations and frameworks that have guided the evolution of the movement for sustainability in higher education by being honored with the AASHE’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018.
 
New Resources and Reports

2020 Vision: Why You Should See the Fossil Fuel Peak Coming l Carbon Tracker

  • This report highlights how the global energy system is transitioning from a system mainly based on fossil fuels to one mainly based on renewable energy sources. The shift will involve near-term peaking of fossil fuel demand, an S curve of renewable growth, and the endgame for fossil fuel demand.

Unlocking the Inclusive Growth Story if the 21st Century: Accelerating Climate Action in Urgent Times l The New Climate Economy

  • This report explores how we are on the cusp of a new economic era: one where growth is driven by the interaction between rapid technological innovation, sustainable infrastructure investment, and increased resource productivity, and argues that this is the only growth story of the 21st century.

Inequality as a Systemic Risk: The Threat it Causes and Potential Solutions l Green Alpha Advisors

  • This report discusses how extreme levels on inequality in the US pose clear threats to society and the economy, and solutions that create a more equitable society can provide enormous opportunity.
 
Sustainable Investing at Endowments, Foundations & Pensions

Treasurer Kurt Summers Announces Chicago has Joined United Nations-Supported Responsible Investing Initiative l Chicago City Treasurer

  • Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers announced that Chicago has become the first city to join the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). He made the announcement as the closing speaker at an annual conference held for PRI signatories.

Seattle University Will Become First College in State to Divest of Fossil Fuels l Seattle Times

  • Seattle University will become the first university in Washington state to divest its endowment of fossil fuels over the next five years. The action means that by 2023, Seattle University will no longer invest any of its $230 million endowment in the funds and securities of fossil-fuel companies. The university estimates that 6.7 percent, or $13.6 million, of its endowment has “exposure to securities of fossil-fuel companies, as defined by ownership of fossil-fuel reserves.”

NYC Pension Funds to Double Green Investments l Wall Street Journal

  • The $195 billion New York City Pension Funds will double its green investments over the next three years. The multi-year initiative will see the five-fund pension system increase its holdings in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other climate-change solutions to $4 billion, or 2% of the mega-fund’s portfolio. These allocations will occur across all asset classes.

Calpers Ups Pressure on Companies Over Executive Pay, Harassment l Bloomberg

  • The largest U.S. public pension fund is taking a tougher line over executive compensation. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System voted against pay programs this year at 43 percent of the 2,145 U.S. public firms it owns stakes in, up from 18 percent in 2017, the system said Monday. One reason is closer scrutiny, said Simiso Nzima, investment director for corporate governance. In past years some firms may have received a passing grade despite a degree of misalignment between pay and company results, he said.

Montreal Sisters Divest From Fossil Fuel Industry  l Catholic Registry

  • Another Canadian Catholic institution has joined in the movement to sell off all carbon-based energy stocks and forbid portfolio managers from buying any more. The Sisters of Institute Notre-Dame de Bon Conseil de Montreal have added their names to the Catherine Donnelly Foundation (a legacy foundation of the Sisters of Service), the Canadian Jesuits, Scarboro Missions and the Canadian Ursuline Sisters which have all divested from companies that find, process and sell oil, gas and coal.
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Global ESG Disclosure Advances Rapidly as Investors Require Risk Assessment l Environmental Leader

  • The levels of ESG disclosures among real estate funds, companies and developers in Asia advanced rapidly in 2018, indicating that the market is responding to the increased amount of attention being placed on sustainability by institutional investors, according to the recently-released Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB). The global average GRESB Score increased again, reaching 68 (out of 100), with listed entities retaining their lead over the private sector. In addition to Asia, increases were seen across Europe, North America and Australia/NZ.

Socially Responsible Investing: A 25-Year Overview l Triple Pundit

  • This article highlights how, to mark its quarter century of pioneering financial reporting, GreenMoney Journal is re-publishing 15 of its features in a “Best Articles” issue.

Women in Silicon Valley Face a Massive Equity Gap l Bloomberg

  • This article highlights a first-of-its-kind that study shows that women hold only 47¢ for every dollar of equity men do.

Why Foundations Should Step Up Their Game In Impact Investing l Forbes

  • This article highlights a recent gathering of impact investors, researchers and others to focus on the role of philanthropy and foundations  in creating what organizers Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and Impact Entrepreneur term an “impact  economy," as well as their conclusions, which were recently published in a report called Philanthropy Transforming Finance: Building an Impact Economy.

Who Cares (About ESG) Wins: Asset Owners Step Up l CFA Institute

  • This article highlights recent developments that demonstrate that the world’s largest asset owners have accepted the value of ESG considerations and are integrating them into their investment strategies. 

How to Spark Excitement in Lifeless ESG ETFs l Bloomberg

  • This article utilizes hard and anecdotal data from an ETF perspective to come up with five things that issuers of these funds could do to spark the kind of excitement that could lead to big flows, including lower management fees and looking at other target audiences.

Institutional Investors Attack Climate Change by Responsible Investing l Chief Investment Officer

  • This article discusses how representatives of pension plans and asset managers described effort to Invest in ESG strategies at the annual Principles of Responsible Investing conference.

ESG Roundtable: ‘It’s Becoming Part of the DNA’ l Funds Europe

  • Participants in this Q&A article discuss the rise of ESG investing post-financial crisis and the right level of scrutiny and developments in an ever-changing landscape. 

ESG Confusion Holds Investors Back, Survey Suggests l Marketwatch

  • Widespread adoption of sustainable investment practices is being held back by confusion about it, according to UBS' latest Investor Watch survey. The private bank's research unit stated that seven out of every 10 investors (72%) surveyed found the language used in sustainable investing confusing, and less than half were familiar with the term.

Emerging Managers and ESG Rank High on European Investors' Wish List: Hedge Fund News l Opalesque

  • A recent study showed that 75% of European investors prefer to allocate additional capital to new or emerging managers, defined as those with fewer than $300 million in assets or less than a three-year track record. 52% of investors said they are looking for a fund with a 1 to 3-year track record.

Insurers Look to Boost Profits With Riskier Investments l Financial Times

  • Insurers are now hoping to add more risky assets to their portfolios, according to BlackRock, which surveyed more than 350 executives at insurance companies around the world managing between them $7.8tn. 47% of respondents said they planned to increase risk in the next year or two. That is a big increase on the 9 per cent who were planning to increase risk this time last year.
 
General Higher Education Endowment & Sustainability News

Americans Split Over Whether School Funds Should Be Taxed l Bloomberg

  • Americans are divided over whether U.S. college endowments should have to pay a new federal tax, according to a national survey on higher education. Fifty% of respondents sided with the wealthy private schools while 43% agreed the tax should be levied, and 7%were unsure, according to data published by Boston public media producer WGBH News, which surveyed about 1,000 adults ages 18 to 65.

Gonzalez Endowment Tax Proposal Gets Harsh Response From Higher Education Community l WBUR

  • Leaders in higher education lobbed criticisms at Democratic candidate for governor Jay Gonzalez over his proposal to tax colleges and universities with large endowments. Gonzalez announced Wednesday that he wants to impose a 1.6 percent tax on nonprofit college and university endowments over $1 billion. The tax would so far apply to nine schools, including Harvard, MIT and Boston University. According to Gonzalez’s campaign, the tax could generate an estimated $1 billion a year — with more than half coming from Harvard alone.

Texas, Virginia Universities Post Double-Digit Endowment Gains l Bloomberg

  • Flagship public universities in Texas, Virginia and Kansas reported double-digit gains, driving U.S. endowments to reach record values. It’s shaping up to be a second year of strong performance for many endowments, with a number of funds attributing the boost to alternative investments such as private equity and venture capital. Most college funds end their fiscal year on June 30 and report results in the fall as they receive performance updates on private investments.

Dartmouth Endowment Returns 12.2% in 2018 l Chief Investment Officer

  • Dartmouth College’s endowment reported its second straight year of double-digit gains as its investment portfolio returned 12.2% for the fiscal year ending June 30, to raise its total asset value to an all-time high of $5.5 billion.

Students Around the World Want Action on Sustainability l NUS

  • This article discusses NUS' 8th annual survey of students studying in the UK, looking at their expectations for and experiences of teaching and learning for sustainable development. For the first time, also looked into the same experiences and expectations amongst students studying in other countries around the world, finding similar if not higher demand for action and opportunities for learning in this area.
 
Climate Risk, Science, Regulation & Clean Energy

We Are Still In Coalition Delivers 300 New Commitments at Global Climate Action Summit l We Are Still In

  • This press release highlights how We Are Still In (WASI) has nearly tripled in size since its June 2017 launch. Formed in response to President Trump’s announced plan to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the coalition now numbers over 3,500 institutions across government, the private sector, faith communities and higher education institutions in all 50 states. Collectively, the members in WASI represent nearly half of the U.S. population (more than 157 million Americans) and half of the country’s GDP ($9.46 trillion).

North Carolina, Warned of Rising Seas, Chose to Favor Development l The New York Times

  • As Hurricane Florence bears down on North Carolina, the state may face the consequences of policies minimizing the impact of climate change and allowing extensive development in vulnerable coastal areas. The approaching storm almost certainly gained destructive power from a warming climate, but a 2012 law, and subsequent actions by the state, effectively ordered state and local agencies that develop coastal policies to ignore scientific models showing an acceleration in the rise of sea levels.

Florence is the Worst Flood in East Coast History l Grist

  • This article details the tremendous rainfall and flooding as a result of Hurricane Florence, and details several witnesses stories of the flooding.

Florence's Insured Losses May Be $4.6 Billion, Risk Modeler Says l Bloomberg

  • Hurricane Florence’s winds and storm surge caused $1.7 billion to $4.6 billion in insured losses along the U.S. Southeast coast, according to an estimate from Verisk Analytics Inc.’s catastrophe risk modeler AIR Worldwide.

Warren Calls for More Corporate Reporting on Climate Risks l Big Law Business

  • Public companies would have to provide investors with more information on risks they face from climate change under new legislation from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Many companies already report on climate risks but not in a standardized way. The bill, introduced Sept. 14, would direct the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue a set of disclosure rules for companies in different industries, including fossil fuels.

Private Sector Pledges to Tackle Climate Change l The Virginia Pilot

  • At The Global Climate Action Summit last week, some of the world’s biggest companies were in the spotlight as partners in tackling global warming. The private sector has emerged as a growing player in the alliance of cities, states and other institutions pledging to uphold emissions cuts of the Paris climate agreement. Industry giants such as McDonald’s, Walmart and Levi Strauss & Co. are rallying behind climate action, announcing plans to expand their use of renewable energy and establish science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gases to help the nation reach its goals under the Paris pact. 
 
Investment Firm News

MSCI Completes the Integration of ESG in all its RISK Analytics Systems l MSCI

  • MSCI, a leading provider of research-based indexes, ratings and analytics, today announced the next step toward advancing ESG integration into the investment management process by delivering ESG solutions across its suite of risk and portfolio analytics systems.

ABC, 123 & ESG: Newday Investing & SIFMA Foundation Bring Sustainable Investing to Students Nationwide l Cision

  • The SIFMA Foundation and Newday Investing today announced a collaboration to add a new component to  SIFMA Foundation's acclaimed Stock Market Game™ program that will focus on sustainable investing. The enhancement, a first in the history of the program, will enable students to track not only the financial performance of the virtual portfolios they build but also the sustainability work of the companies they select.

Impact-Focused Firm i(x) Investments Adds Ex-Obama Official as President l Think Advisor

  • Once again highlighting the growth and importance of sustainable investing, Christine Harada, former U.S. chief sustainability officer in the Obama administration, has joined i(x) Investments as president, the social impact investment firm announced today.

Why Gender Equity Certification Matters To Nia — And To All of Us l Money Doula

  • Nia Impact Capital is the first business in the United States to earn a Gender Equity Now (GEN) certification. Asset managers operate in an industry that has very low representation of women (fewer than 10% of fund managers in the US are women). Nia's hope is that they can lead by example in showing that there are many potential steps all companies can take to improve their practices.
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment

The Divestment Movement to Combat Climate Change Is All Grown Up l The New Yorker

  • This article highlights how the fossil fuel divestment movement has been building extraordinary momentum in recent years. In 2014, institutional investors who had committed to divestment collectively controlled about $50 billion. According to a recent report, investors representing more than $6 trillion in assets have now committed to divest, an increase of nearly 1200%. Oil companies have started to flag the movement as a material risk in their securities filings.

University of Pennsylvania Undergraduate Assembly Votes 17-1 on Resolution Calling for Penn to Divest From Fossil Fuels l The Daily Pennsylvanian

  • At the first UPenn general board meeting of the year, the UA passed a resolution in support of Penn’s Board of Trustees divesting from companies involved in coal and tar sands, two particularly harmful fossil fuels. The assembly voted with an overwhelming majority of 17 in favor, 1 against the proposal, and 2 abstained votes. 
 
 
Calendar of Upcoming Events

Croatan Forum l Croatan Institute, October 2-4 2018, Durham, NC

Total Impact Boston l Good Capital Project, October 4-5, 2018, Boston, MA

2018 Investing for Impact Symposium | High Water Women, October 17, 2018, New York, NY

Ethical Finance 2018 | Responsible Investor, UKIFC, Scottish Government, UNDP, and RBS, October 22-23, 2018, Edinburgh, Scotland

The 29th Annual SRI Conference l November 1-3, 2018, Colorado Springs, CO

Endowment & Foundation Forum 2018 l Opal Group, November 13, 2018

RI Americas l Responsible Investor, December 5-6, 2018

2019 Foundation Leadership Forum l AGB, January 27-29, 2019, Fort Lauderdale, FL

2019 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit | February 10-12, 2019, Tempe, AZ

2019 Endowment and Debt Management Forum l NACUBO, February 13-15, 2019, New York, NY