In this issue of our bi-monthly newsletter, we share highlights and reflections from the 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit that took place from February 4-6, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. The Summit was the largest national gathering of higher education presidents, chancellors, trustees, and other senior leaders committed to accelerating climate solutions.
Building off of the theme of "Crossing Sectors and Driving Solutions," attendees heard from distinguished speakers from the higher ed sector, business and finance sectors, and state and local governments, and participated in rich discussions with panelists and other attendees focused on central topics.
As always, your contributions to the conversation are welcome and needed. Please be in touch with any questions, news or ideas for the IEN.
Georges, Tony & The IEN Team
2018 Higher Education Summit in Review
By: Tony Cortese & Georges Dyer, Co-Founders and Principals, The Intentional Endowments Network
Second Nature and the Intentional Endowments Network (IEN) held the 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit February 4-6 in Tempe, Arizona. It was the largest gathering of higher education presidents, chancellors, trustees, and other senior leaders committed to accelerating climate and sustainability solutions with over 275 participants.
It came at a critical time as society deals with the ongoing and worsening impacts of climate disruption. Working together with business, state and local leaders, the higher education sector can and must shape the future of America’s global climate leadership. After the U.S. Administration’s announcement to withdraw from the international Paris Climate Agreement, Second Nature and its Climate Leadership Network, IEN and other sector partners stepped in to fill the void through the We Are Still In (WASI) which represents $6.2 trillion of the U.S. economy.
As you can see from the Summit program, there were several unique thrusts. Climate action, justice, and economic vitalization was a recurring and integrated theme. Ideas for role modeling and preparing students to work towards a just and sustainable economy included moving to 100% renewable energy individually and collaboratively across campuses, campus and community resilience, internal and external carbon pricing, and new integrated learning and action strategies for students. A new major theme throughout the event was how to align the schools’ endowments with their mission and environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals for their own benefit and to help move societal investment toward a clean, sustainable economy. An exciting case study of cross-sector, place-based climate action in Pittsburgh was presented by the Pittsburg Mayor, the president of a Chatham University, a foundation leader, and a social justice leader, providing a template for climate action work at a city/regional scale. Finally, the presidents of 5 of the largest public universities in the country announced the formation of The University Climate Change Coalition (UC3) - 13 leading North American research universities that will prototype a collaborative model designed to help local communities achieve their climate goals and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future (UC3 Coalition).
To read the full Summit reflections, click here.
Updates from the Network
New IEN Members
We are pleased to welcome the following organizations to the Network as contributing members: TIAA (Leadership Level), Glenmede (Leadership Level), The University of New Hampshire, Virginia Wesleyan University, Greentech Capital Advisors, Grinnell College, Appalachian State University, Change Finance, Jarislowsky Fraser, iSelect Fund Management, Flat World Partners, Clean Energy Venture Group and Fossil Free Indexes. To see a full list of contributing members, click here. To learn more about the leadership opportunities and benefits of IEN membership, click here.
IEN Welcomes Alice DonnaSelva to the Team
Alice DonnaSelva is a Principal of the Intentional Endowments Network, joining the team in February 2018 after serving on the IEN Steering Committee and Executive Committee for 3 years. As a member of the Executive Committee she provided an investment consultant’s perspective, helped produce the Hampshire College Case Study and spoke at a number of events including our Sustainable Investing in Hedge Funds webinar. Prior to joining IEN, Alice was an investment consultant at Prime Buchholz, an investment consulting firm focused primarily on endowments and foundations that was one of the founding members of IEN. She has 17 years of investment industry experience. Read her full bio here.
Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit Videos Live
The videos from the main sessions at the 2018 Climate Leadership Summit are now live and available on our website. To view the videos, click here. The read more about the Summit, see the agenda, view the attendee list, and read speaker bios, click here.
In the past two months, IEN has hosted the following webinars. Follow the links below for more information and to view recordings of each:
- The Investor Case for Human Rights l January 24, 2018
- Long-Short ESG Strategies for Endowments l March 6th, 2018
IEN Working Groups meet regularly to advance key strategies in support of the network's goals. Below is a brief update of what current Working Groups have accomplished.
Fiduciary Duty & Policy: This group is developing a piece on crafting RFPs when seeking investment consultants to ensure they are familiar with ESG investing. They are also exploring opportunities to offer leadership development workshops and resources for trustees. This group is also connecting with the Trustee Peer Group to get feedback on what resources trustees most need. If you are interested in participating in this group, please reach out to Alice at [email protected].
Clean Energy: This working group is currently developing a resource on how to most effectively enable endowments to make impact investments in solar PV projects. This framework will build off of the Clean Energy White Paper that was released last fall, and will provide guidance to fund managers on how endowments can approach this market. If you are interested in participating in this group, please reach out to Nicole at [email protected].
Student Managed Funds: This working group connects student-managed fund advisors, academics focused on sustainable investing, and students involved in student-managed funds to share best practices and resources to advance sustainable investing curriculum and strategies in each fund. The Group is also currently developing a toolkit on How to Start a Student-Managed Fund, and working to pull information together on different student-managed funds across the country, including information on where they are in the process of establishment and how they are managed. If your school has a student-managed fund, we would greatly appreciate your assistance in entering the fund’s information in the database. Please reach out to Nicole at [email protected] to access the database.
Shareholder Engagement: This group has been connecting with additional endowments interested in becoming more active on shareholder engagement and proxy voting. Members have presented to investment committees and advisory committees on responsible investment. The group has been promoting resources, such as the annual Proxy Preview report, ICCR's proxy guide, Ceres's shareholder resolution database, as well as events and webinars associated with these resources. The group plans to continue to explore ways to support resource-constrained endowments in being more active, particularly when many use outsourced CIOs and external managers and therefore don't always own shares directly. If you are interested in participating in this group, please reach out to Alice at [email protected].
- Trustee Peer Group: The Trustee Peer Group is currently focused on bringing new members into the group to create more opportunities for peer-to-peer learning among college and university fiduciaries on sustainable investing. The group hosted a very successful AGB’s 2018 Foundation Leadership Forum. If you are interested in participating in this group, please reach out to Tony at [email protected].
Climate Solutions Investment Initiative Updates
Co-convened by Ceres, IEN and ICCR, the Climate Solutions Investment Initiative (CSII) was launched in May of 2017. This investor-led initiative convenes bi-monthly member calls and brings together religious investors and academic endowments. The CSII team launched an online portal earlier this year. The portal is a tool for sharing resources, connecting with other investors, and reporting and tracking investments made in climate solutions. Access to the portal is available to all institutions that are members of CSII. Participation in CSII is limited to asset-owner representatives and is free of charge. CSII members commit to making affirmative efforts to invest in climate solutions wherever feasible; consider establishing climate-related investment beliefs or policies; consider setting a target of investing a meaningful percentage of their assets in a broad range of climate solutions by 2020; collaborating with other investors on sharing information on such investment opportunities; and reporting publically on an annual basis on their efforts and investments in this space.
The CSII team also recently heard from two private debt managers (Pegasus and New Energy Capital, as well as a John Hancock representative) focused on providing project-based financing for renewable energy infrastructure to get their perspective on the investment opportunities in renewable energy.
8th Annual Practitioners Gathering l Confluence Philanthropy, March 12-15, 2018, Berkeley, CA
- The Practitioners Gathering is a four-day conference where asset owners and their advisors meet at the cutting edge of mission-related investing. The Gathering represents the most advanced foundations, investment managers, and advisors in impact investing today—and those looking to learn more. Sessions are led by funder-practitioners, investment experts, and other thought leaders.
- Building on the success of the longest-running ESG event in Europe, the Responsible Investment Forum comes to New York for its second year to bring together the most sophisticated LPs, GPs and service providers to discuss why, when, and how your firm should be implementing an effective ESG strategy.
The 7th Annual OCIO and Investment Outsourcing Summit l Financial Research Associates, March 20-21, 2018, New York, NY
- From governance and fiduciary responsibility to vendor selection and various outsourcing models, this event will delve deeply into the specifics of investment outsourcing. Hear directly from investors who have gone through the outsourcing process, as well as from leading providers of outsourcing services. Alice DonnaSelva will be moderating a panel on ESG integration and how it realted to OCIO selection.
To view more upcoming events, click here.
Below are some recent resources from the Intentional Endowments Network and other organizations. To see more reports, articles, videos and other resources by topic, visit the resource page on our website.
Resources from IEN:
- The Intentionally Designed Endowment l Trusteeship Magazine
- February Green Money Journal: Millenials and Money l Green Money Journal
- Racial Justice Investing Launches Online Group l Racial Justice Investing
- The Global Risks Report 2018 l World Economic Forum
- The State of Green Business, 2018 l Green Biz
The Business of Planting Trees l The Nature Conservancy & The World Resources Institute
In the News
Below is a sampling of recent news articles we've posted on our Newsfeed, ranging in topics from Sustainable Investing, Climate Risk, Science & Regulation, Sustainability in Higher Education, Divestment, Clean Energy, and more.
IEN in the News:
- New Sustainable Investing Fund at The Georges Washington University Will Test Limits of SRI, Experts Say l The GW Hatchet
- Executive Perspective: Educational Endowments and Sustainable Investing l Thomson Reuters Blog
- BlackRock’s Message: Contribute to Society, or Risk Losing Our Support l The New York Times
- Lewis and Clark College Board of Trustees Votes to Divest From Fossil Fuels l Lewis & Clark
- Episcopal Pension Invests in Socially Responsible Fund l Chief Investment Officer
- World-Class Research Universities Announce University Climate Change Coalition l Environment America
- UNC Asheville Looks For Help With Sustainable Investing l Pensions & Investments
- Engagement and Divestment are Not Mutually Exclusive l Pensions Expert
- Future Ford Foundation Director Weighs in on Role, Impact Investing l Chief Investment Officer
- The University of Edinburgh Announces Full Divestment From Fossil Fuels l The Student Newspaper
- AP2 Creates ESG-led Multi-Factor Equity Indices for €10bn Portfolio l Investments & Pensions Europe
- The Church Pension Fund Invests in $75 Million Off-Grid Solar and Financial Access Senior Debt Fund l Business Wire
- Why it's Time to Align Retirement Funds With Sustainability Goals l Green Biz
- Harvard's Climate Change Efforts l Harvard University
- Wanted: Private Capital to Tackle U.N. Sustainable Development Goals l Barron's
- MSCI Links ESG With Stronger Asset Growth l Pensions & Investments
- Apple Urged to Curb Smartphone Addiction by Jana Partners and CalSTRS l The Street
- Number of Institutional Investors Using ESG Factors in Decisions Holds Steady l Plan Adviser
- Women Leaders In Sustainable Finance: Modeling The Future l Financial Advisor
- N.Y. State Common to Double Low-Carbon Equity Index Investment to $4 Billion l Pensions and Investments
If you have an original piece you would like to submit for an upcoming newsletter, or for more information about the Intentional Endowments Network and how you can support this work, please contact Nicole Harman at [email protected].