Weekly News Round-Up: September 27, 2019

As Climate Week winds down, we are overwhelmed by the feeling of momentum as well as the sense of urgency. It has certainly been a busy news week on all fronts, but this week’s round-up is full of stories of climate action - please share with us the steps you are taking that other IEN members and friends could learn from or contribute to!

Please take a moment to register for the 2020 Higher Education Climate Summit and submit a session proposal to make sure your ideas, solutions, and questions are featured alongside our growing list of confirmed speakers - the call for session proposals closes on Monday, September 30!

IEN in the News

(Watch) ESG & Community Impact Investing Roundtable | Intentional Endowments Network

  • Watch the keynote address and panels from our recent ESG & Community Impact Investing Roundtable at the University of California Berkeley.

Opportunities for Action

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

Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change | The Investor Agenda

  • Deadline: November 2019. For Climate Week, 515 investors managing $35 trillion in assets released the Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change - that's the largest-ever group of investors calling on governments to step up climate ambition. The statement is still open for signature by institutional investors worldwide!

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.

Sign-on Opportunities:


New Resources & Reports

Sustainability Reporting Frameworks: A Guide For CIOs | Council of Institutional Investors Research and Education Fund

  • This report focuses on four of the most commonly cited ESG reporting frameworks: the Climate Disclosure Project (CDP), the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). The report provides CIOs of U.S. pension funds and investors more generally a basic understanding of the frameworks and their fundamental differences.

New Report Proves Divestment Pays | Genus Capital Management

  • Genus Capital released its 2019 Divestment Report on its six-year fossil free investment data, which shows that divesting from fossil fuels has had a positive effect on returns. Investors who divested from fossil fuels from May 2013 to July 2019, using Genus Capital’s Fossil Free CanGlobe Equity Fund generated a 12.83 per cent annualized return without contributing to the climate crisis, outperforming its benchmark and the overall Canadian stock market index.

Sustainable Investing By Institutional Asset Owners

Banks Worth $47 Trillion Adopt New UN-backed Climate, Sustainability Principles | UN News

  • Banks collectively with more than $47 trillion in assets, or a third of the global industry, signed up on Sunday to new United Nations-backed responsible banking principles in a massive boost for climate action and the shift from “brown to green” models of economic growth. Read critical reaction by environmental groups, who called the announcement an example of “greenwashing.”

An Alliance of Major Investors Overseeing $2.4 trillion Has Committed to Making Portfolios Entirely Carbon-neutral by 2050 | Business Insider

  • On Monday, an alliance of pension funds and insurers responsible for a total of $2.4 trillion in investments announced a commitment to carbon-neutral investment portfolios by 2050. The group will be called the United Nations-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance.

EIB to Support 1 Trillion Euros of Climate Action Investment | Outlook India

  • At the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 and the UN General Assembly, the European Investment Bank, the EU Bank, on Saturday announced to unlock and support 1 trillion euros of climate action and environmental sustainable investment in the decade to 2030.

Danish Pension Funds Sign $52 Billion Green Pledge | Chief Investment Officer

  • Denmark’s private pension fund industry is banding together in a pledge to invest more than $51.7 billion in green assets by 2030. The goal is to help reduce the country’s carbon dioxide emissions by 70%. The investments will be in energy infrastructure and other green activities such as green shares, green bonds, and investments in energy efficient construction.

Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

ESG Investing Supplement | Pensions & Investments

  • Read in-depth coverage of the latest trends in ESG strategies, including engaging with companies, using ESG data, and more in this sponsored supplement.

The Stock Market Cares About Climate Change — Even if Some People Don’t | Barron’s

  • In a report released this past week, Deutsche Bank quantified just how much climate change matters. According to its research, stocks that reported positive climate-change news outperformed the MSCI World Index.

‘Hundreds of Institutional Investors Are with You, Greta, but We Must All Do Far More’ | Ethical Corp

  • On #GlobalClimateStrike day, Sue Reid of US nonprofit Ceres says investors with $35trn in assets are demanding governments and major corporations step up ambition to tackle climate change, and highlights companies that are heeding the call.

3 Myths About Sustainable Funds | Morningstar

  • Sustainable funds perform on par with traditional funds, cost about the same, and offer plenty of choice.

Humanitarian Investing to Provide Impact Financing to Address Crises | PR Newswire

  • In collaboration with the World Economic Forum and in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the World Bank Group, Boston Consulting Group released a new white paper outlining the role and initial landscape of humanitarian investing, which provides financing to address crises and fragility while seeking a return on that investment.

Why A Data Revolution Is Giving Socially Responsible Investors an Edge | Fortune

  • A report issued to clients by BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research makes an unusually strong data-driven case for “ESG investing”—taking companies’ environmental impact, social impact, and governance into account when deciding whether to buy their stocks. The report’s takeaway: If you’re not using ESG analysis, you may be leaving money on the table.

(Watch) Mobius Says Governance Is Critical to ESG Investing | Bloomberg

  • Mark Mobius, co-founder of Mobius Capital Partners, discusses ESG investing with Bloomberg's Scarlet Fu and Romaine Bostick on "Bloomberg Markets: The Close."

(Watch) How Fixed-Income Is Embracing Sustainability | Morningstar

  • Morningstar's Karin Anderson discusses new fixed income research on how asset managers are approaching sustainable fixed-income funds.

Shareholder Engagement

600-Plus Companies Adopt NYC Pensions’ ‘Proxy Access’ Agenda  | Chief Investment Officer

  • More than 600 companies have adopted the “proxy access” policy of New York City’s “boardroom accountability” initiative since its 2014 launch, according to Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office. The targeted companies, which include more than 71% of the S&P 500, give large, long-term investors like the city’s pension funds, the ability to nominate directors to company boards. By Stringer’s reckoning, the companies have seen changes in board diversity, their climate change actions, and how they treat their workers since complying with New York City’s guidelines.

Shareholder Climate Engagement at All-time High | Morningstar

  • The number of resolutions and the increasing levels of support reflect shareholders' growing concerns about the climate-resilience of their portfolios.

Small ESG Investors Punch Above Their Weight | Wall Street Journal

  • A small group of niche investors guided by ESG principles are emerging as a big influence on corporate decision making. These investors—religious funds, boutique asset managers and single-issue organizations—are routinely punching above their weight in driving companies in their portfolios to address sustainability issues and ethical concerns. They’re doing so by filing frequent shareholder resolutions and pushing other shareholders, including asset managers many times their size, to engage.

EMs and ESG: Mutually exclusive? | Morningstar

  • Investing in emerging markets and then using investor status to engage companies to improve ESG performance can be a direct and effective way to create impact.

Sustainable Business Spotlight

Read the latest observations on sustainable business trends from Greenbiz:

Good Business | Bloomberg

  • In Bloomberg’s weekly guide to sustainable finance, read about climate week news, updates from the US Chamber of Commerce, and more.

Green Bonds

Company Debt Has Never Been Greener, and Investors Clamor for More | Crain’s

  • Corporations are borrowing for environmentally friendly projects at a record pace and buyers can't get enough of the debt. That's why sales of "green" bonds also are hitting record levels.

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Career Pathways Program Creates Diversity Pipeline for Next Generation of Executives in Philanthropy | Yahoo Finance

  • The Council on Foundations is accepting applications for the 2020 Career Pathways cohort. Career Pathways is the Council’s flagship professional development program designed to create a diversity pipeline for the next generation of executives in philanthropy.

John Rogers: Industry Has 'Gone Backwards' on Diversity and Inclusion | InvestmentNews

  • John W. Rogers Jr., chairman of Ariel Investments and a pioneer of diversity and inclusion in the financial services profession, issued a reality check for industry participants at InvestmentNews' Diversity & Inclusion Summit, saying the industry has backtracked rather than improved when it comes to diversity.

Gender Lens Investing

UBS WM's Jerome Cognet Comments on Diversity in the 'G' of ESG | Investment Europe

  • Jerome Cognet, director investment specialist at UBS Wealth Management in France, recently was approached by InvestmentEurope for insight into how diversity should be considered part of governance issues - the 'G' part - addressed by ESG investing. Cognet said that gender diversity is more than just a social issue, in that it also makes business sense.

Student Managed Funds & Sustainable Finance Curriculum

Penn State Smeal to Open Center for the Business of Sustainability in 2020 | Pen State News

  • The Penn State Smeal College of Business will launch the Center for the Business of Sustainability in 2020 to support how business meets the growing demand for resources in a socially just and environmentally sustainable manner.

Investment Firm News

In Impact Investing First, LeapFrog Announces Audit on Impact Principles, Achieving Top Rating | Yahoo Finance

  • LeapFrog Investments became the first impact investor globally to announce the results of an independent audit of its impact against the Operating Principles for Impact Management, new industry standards developed by the IFC in consultation with leading impact investors and other stakeholders. Watch IEN’s recent webinar on the Operating Principles for Impact Management here.

Schroders Appoints Head of Sustainable Credit with German Asset Manager Background | SWFI

  • Like many European asset managers, global investment firm Schroders is expanding its sustainable investment capabilities with the appointment of a Head of Sustainable Credit. Increasing, institutional investors are analyzing the social and environmental externalities that can result in tangible financial costs.

Goldman CEO Says Sustainable Investing Must Go Mainstream | Bloomberg

  • Banks and other financial firms need to get creative to bring sustainable investments into the mainstream, said David Solomon, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s chief executive officer.

UBS and Hermes Team up for High Yield Impact Fund | Citywire

  • Hermes Investment Management and its US owner Federated Investors have teamed up with Swiss giant UBS to launch a new SDG Engagement High Yield Credit fund. The fund will seek to achieve a meaningful social and/or environmental impact as well as a compelling return by investing in high yield bonds and engaging with their issuers.

Fidelity Teams Up With Ethic on ESG Investing | Barron’s

  • Fidelity Investments has teamed up with Ethic, which describes itself as a “tech-driven asset manager,” to allow financial advisors working with Fidelity to create personalized values-based portfolios for clients.

Economic & Policy Shifts

Why Waste Matters for ESG Investors | Morningstar

  • A circular economy needs businesses not just to maximise recycling and minimise waste but to fundamentally re-engineer their products and services.

Climate Risk, Science, and Clean Energy

Teen Activist Tells Protesters Demanding Action on Climate Change: 'We Need To Do This Now.' | CNN

  • There were millions of people who took part in Friday's global general strike around the world, according to 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who helped organize the day of demonstrations. She told a massive audience in New York, "Some people say we should study to become climate scientists or politicians, so that we can, in the future, solve the climate crisis. But by then, it will be too late. We need to do this now."

Greta Thunberg Isn't the Only Trailblazing Young Climate Leader. Activists from the Amazon to Nigeria Share Their Ideas for Battling the Climate Crisis. | Insider

  • The first UN Youth Climate Summit gathered hundreds of young people from around the world at the United Nations, from places including Nigeria, Austria, the Marshall Islands, and Mauritius. They all have their own ideas of what people, corporations, and world leaders can do to help save the planet. Several said they favored heavy carbon taxes to get the job done.

Robert Litterman Interview: Climate Change, the Financial Crisis, and Other High-risk Problems | Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

  • Bob Litterman, board member of IEN’s host organization the Crane Institute of Sustainability, spoke with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis about his career, including his work on climate risk.

Al Gore: The Climate Crisis Is the Battle of Our Time, and We Can Win | New York Times

  • In this opinion piece, former vice president Al Gore argues that we still retain the ability to avoid truly catastrophic, civilization-endi

Money Is the Oxygen on Which the Fire of Global Warming Burns | New Yorker

  • In this long-form commentary, Bill McKibben argues that the key to disrupting the flow of carbon into the atmosphere may lie in disrupting the flow of money to coal and oil and gas.

Private-sector Led Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment Brings Together Companies Across the Infrastructure Investment Value Chain with Assets Totalling USD 5 trillion | Yahoo Finance

  • Willis Towers Watson, a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company, along with the Government of the UK, the Government of Jamaica, the Global Commission on Adaptation and the World Economic Forum, announced the launch of a private-sector led Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment.

Can 'Climate Finance' Fund a Transition to a Low-carbon Economy? | Al Jazeera

  • The UN Climate Action Summit hoped to catalyse the private sector to lead a global shift away from fossil fuels to renewables.

Coal Presence in Climate Funds ‘Points to Need for More ESG Oversight’ | IPE

  • The presence of companies with coal mining activity in climate-themed funds suggests the need for greater oversight of the ESG fund sector, climate change-focused non-profit InfluenceMap has argued.

Why I Broke the Law for Climate Change | Nature

  • Lawyer Farhana Yamin explains what drove her to civil disobedience after three decades of environmental advocacy for the IPCC, the United Nations and more.

Climate Change: Did We Just Witness the Beginning of the End of Big Oil? | CNBC

  • The energy sector is notorious for booms and busts, but oil and gas stocks’ weighting in the S&P 500 has not been this low since as far back as 1979. Investors have lost faith in oil companies, but it is not yet clear whether that is a permanent change caused by fear of increasing advances made by renewable-energy sources like wind, solar and electric batteries, or a temporary reluctance to invest caused by low oil prices.

Google Executes ‘The Largest Renewable Energy Purchase’ in Corporate History | Chief Investment Officer

  • Tech giant dishes out $2 billion to bring their renewable energy capacity to the equivalent of one million solar rooftops.

General Higher Education Endowment News

College Endowment Returns Impacted by 2017 Federal Tax | Williams Record

  • Williams College calculates that its endowment will be affected by the new endowment tax. Although the government has not released final guidelines, Vice President for Finance and Administration Frederick Puddester predicts that the tax payment could range from one to three million dollars per year and will come from the endowment’s income. He said, “Since we draw about 5 percent of our endowment each year, this reduction in the endowment will mean less money to support programs and spending at the college.”

Amid Students' Push for UI to Divest from Fossil-fuel Companies, Officials Looking at New Data | News-Gazette

  • University of Illinois administrators are researching how they can use the wealth of data now available about companies’ ESG practices to inform investing decisions, partly in response to a state law that takes effect Jan. 1. The “Illinois Sustainable Investing Act” requires public bodies to consider factors such as corporate governance and environmental and social impact in their decisions on how to invest public funds.

At Nearly $335M, Giving to UA Foundation Breaks Record | University of Arizona News

  • For the second year in a row, alumni and friends broke the record for philanthropic support of the University of Arizona, giving $334.6 million to the UA Foundation during fiscal year 2019. The previous fiscal year, the total for gifts, pledges and realized bequests topped $300 million for the first time, coming in at $317 million. The past two years were noteworthy not only for overall philanthropy but for endowment giving. On June 30, which marked the end of the fiscal year, the UA endowment had reached $928 million, a 9.5% increase over the previous year-end total.

Head of $1B Endowment at UMass System Quietly Exits | Boston Business Journal

  • (Subscription required) Charlie Pagnam, who until recently oversaw the University of Massachusetts’ $1 billion endowment, quietly left the five-campus university system this summer.

Increasingly Responsible Investments by University of Helsinki – Aiming for a Carbon-neutral | Mirage News

  • In new Principles of Responsible Investment Activities, approved by the Board of the University in summer 2019, established practices are brought together while new goals are also added to the mix. The overall scope of the investment portfolios of the University of Helsinki Group, comprising the University of Helsinki and the University of Helsinki Funds, is approximately €500 million.

University of Guelph Endowment | Principles for Responsible Investment

  • The University of Guelph (Canada) has signed the Principles for Responsible Investment.

General Higher Education Sustainability News

Georgia Tech Partners with Universities, UN on Sustainable Development Goals | Georgia Tech News

  • Representatives from leading world universities — including Georgia Tech — convened at Rutgers University - Newark to participate in the University Global Compact, a a platform of universities and other higher education organizations committed to working together and in partnership with the UN and other relevant organizations in support of the SDGs. Georgia Tech is also a partner in the Regional Center of Expertise for Greater Atlanta, a sustainability network that supports implementation of the SDGs at the regional level through education and training. 

Three Pittsburgh Institutions Share How They’re Working to Limit Their Contributions to Climate Change | Public Source

  • Officials from the University of Pittsburgh, Highmark Health and UPMC explain their efforts to make their footprints more sustainable.

How Sustainable Is Your University? | People and Planet

  • People & Planet’s University League is the only comprehensive and independent league table of UK universities ranked by environmental and ethical performance. It is compiled annually by the UK’s largest student campaigning network, People & Planet. The 2019 People & Planet University League is now live.

Climate Strikes and Fossil Fuel Divestment

Coverage of climate strikes and climate action topped headlines around the world. A sampling of this coverage included actions and advocacy at:


Partnership Opportunities
Calendar of Upcoming Events

IEN Events:

2020 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit | Intentional Endowments Network and Second Nature, February 23-25, 2020, Atlanta, GA. Registration is now live, with early bird rates available! Provide input to shape the agenda here, or propose a session topic here before the September 30th proposal deadline!

Other Events:

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.

Campus Sustainability Month | AASHE, October 2019

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.

2019 iSelect Investor Webinar | iSelect Fund, October 3, 2019, 8:00am - 4:10pm CST From the latest agriculture innovations to tomorrow’s innovations in healthcare, and more, you’ll get a look at what’s coming next and how it will benefit you as an investor.

Agrifood Conversations | iSelect Fund, October 10, 2019, 3pm CT (webinar)

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

Investing for Impact Symposium | High Water Women, October 29, 2019, New York, NY

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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