The theme of this month’s IEN newsletter is how, in the absence of leadership from Washington, colleges, universities, investors, businesses, cities, and states can work together to pursue ambitious climate goals and take forceful action to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing emissions and meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Our feature articles, "Considerations for ESG Policy Development" and "The Paris Agreement in the Investment Policy," were developed by IEN in partnership with the global investment firm Cambridge Associates, and offer a framework for institutions to integrate environmental objectives and considerations into their investment portfolios, including ESG factors and the language of the Paris Agreement. The School Spotlight highlights hundreds of American institutions -- including endowments and foundations -- that have joined businesses, philanthropists, cities, and states across the country in remaining committed to the Paris Agreement.
We have numerous updates from the Network to share, including an overview of our accomplishments over the past year in honor of the one-year anniversary of IEN's membership program, updates from our working groups, and an introduction to a new initiative focused on Climate Solutions Investment and organized by Ceres, ICCR and IEN. As always, your contributions to the conversation are welcome and needed. Please be in touch with any questions, news or ideas for the IEN.
Tony Cortese, Georges Dyer & The IEN Team
Feature Article: Considerations for ESG Policy Development & The Paris Agreement in the Investment Policy
By: Cambridge Associates and The Intentional Endowments Network
Sound investment policy is important for all investors. The words on paper elaborate purpose of the organization, the objectives of its funds, the governance of decisions, and the most critical risk management beliefs and parameters. The words gain power through the process of policy development and stakeholder engagement on the intersections of these principles, rules, and strategies. Considerations for ESG Policy Development contains descriptions of the key elements of purpose, priorities, and principles and some examples of language that may be useful for spurring dialogue, thinking, and policy development.
Climate change is a critical sustainability priority, which presents a range of risks and opportunities for investors. One potential framework for integrating climate considerations into investment policies is the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. In The Paris Agreement in the Investment Policy, we list the three aims of the Agreement and offer examples of language that may be included in a statement of priorities.
Please find more details on both of these new resources in the press release on our website.
School Spotlight: Higher Education Signatories of 'We Are Still In'
Earlier this month, an initial group of 1,219 colleges and universities, governors, mayors, businesses, and investors from across the U.S., representing the broadest cross-section of the American economy yet assembled in pursuit of climate action, declared their intent to continue to ensure the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing carbon emissions. Signatories include leaders from 183 colleges and universities, 125 cities, 9 states, and 902 businesses and investors. A mixture of private universities, state schools and community colleges, both small and large, have added their institutions to the statement.
The signers all understand that the Paris Agreement is a blueprint for job creation, stability, and global prosperity and that accelerating the United States’ clean energy transition is an opportunity - not a liability - to create jobs, spur innovation, promote trade and ensure American competitiveness. By declaring that “we are still in,” the signatories are putting the best interests of their constituents, customers, students, and communities first while assuring the rest of the world that American leadership on climate change extends well beyond the federal government.
Featured Event: Big Path Capital Impact Capitalism Summit
Celebrating its 10-year anniversary, Big Path Capital is pleased to announce the 9th annual Impact Capitalism Summit and 3rd in Nantucket. This Summit will focus on key factors that are changing the impact investing landscape. The biggest transfer of wealth in human history has started. Over the next 35 years as an unprecedented $58.7 trillion dollars of wealth transfers to women and millennials. Women will inherit 70% of this wealth. By 2030, two-thirds of the wealth in the United States will be in women's hands. Lastly, women and millennials factor a company's social and environmental impact into their investing decisions at a dramatically higher rate. This confluence of factors will drive change and growth in the sector. Click here for more information and to register.
Updates from the Network
One Year Anniversary of the Membership Program
Last year, 77 Founding Members launched IEN’s membership program. Founding Members included: Arizona State University Foundation, Becker College, California State University, Calvert Investments, Carleton College, Hampshire College, Hanley Foundation, Lane Community College, Lewis & Clark College, Litterman Family Foundation, Middlebury College, Portland State University, San Francisco State University Foundation, UBS Asset Management, University of Maine and University of Massachusetts Foundation. Through the membership program, IEN facilitates connections with experts and peers to support administrators and trustees in enhancing their institutions’ approach to sustainable investment and addressing stakeholders’ concerns. Read more about IEN's membership program and Network accomplishments over the past year by reading the full press release here.
New Contributing Members
We are pleased to welcome the following organizations to the network as contributing members: Chatham University, Warren Wilson College, University of Southern Maine, Seamans Capital Management, Jbara and Rogers Financial Management Group at Morgan Stanley, The Investment Fund for Foundations (TIFF), and Metro Partners. To see a full list of contributing members, click here. To learn more about the leadership opportunities and benefits of IEN membership, click here.
Last month IEN hosted a webinar on Sustainable Agriculture Investing (follow the link to view a recording on our website), and has scheduled an ‘Introduction to Impact Investing’ webinar for June as well as a ‘First-time Fund Managers in Emerging Markets Bring a New Model to PE in Africa ’ webinar for July. Follow the links below for more information on each, and to register for our upcoming webinars.
Webinar: Sustainable Agriculture Investing l Intentional Endowments Network, May 31, 2017
Webinar: Introduction to Impact Investing l Intentional Endowments Network, June 2017
Webinar: First-time Fund Managers in Emerging Markets Bring a New Model to PE in Africa l Intentional Endowments Network, July 11, 2017, 1:00 p.m. EDT
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 in the past few months.
Shareholder Engagement: This working group has been brainstorming a process for supporting schools in engaging managers on proxy voting. Most recently, the group has focused on how to engage more endowment reps in the group to explore the best ways to overcome barriers around resources needed for shareholder engagement and how to do so with external managers. It has also been looking at how endowments can speak out against the Financial CHOICE Act 2.0, which would permit only a tiny fraction of the globe’s wealthiest investors (those who own more than 1% or more of a company’s stock) to file shareholder proposals.
Fiduciary Duty & Policy: This group has been working on several concurrent projects, including a “Leading practice briefing on fiduciary duty for endowments.” It is now focusing on a briefing paper for trustees summarizing the latest thinking on fiduciary duty and sustainable / ESG investing to be published in the late summer / early fall.
Trustee Engagement: This group had its first meeting in April and had a broad ranging discussion covering how to reach endowment trustees, an outreach strategy for increasing membership and fundraising, what resources are needed to support trustees on sustainable investing, public outreach on the status and importance of sustainable investing, and the importance of engaging with trustees at other trustee gathering events (e.g., Association of Governing Boards of Colleges & Universities, NACUBO). The group is currently developing a plan for implementation and scheduling their next call.
Clean Energy: This working group is currently outlining a resource on how to most effectively enable endowments to make impact investments in solar PV projects. This framework would build off of the Clean Energy White Paper that was released last fall, and would provide guidance to fund managers on how endowment’s can approach this market.
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 currently developing a toolkit on How to Start a Student-Managed Fund, a toolkit on How to Engage in Shareholder Activism, 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 contact Sara Minard to access the database.
Welcoming our Summer Interns
We are pleased to welcome our four summer interns: Alison Banks, a student at Dartmouth College (‘20), Khalid Cannon, a recent graduate from Yale University (‘17), Skyler Chin, a student at Yale University (‘19), and Adam Walden, a student a Brown University (‘18). You can read their full bios here.
Climate Solutions Investment Initiative
Organized by the Intentional Endowments Network, Ceres and ICCR, the Climate Solutions Investment Initiative would ask investors to 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 in sharing information on such investment opportunities, and reporting publicly on an annual basis on their efforts and investments in this space. This initiative has had two planning calls since forming and is working to develop a commitment statement for participants.
Opportunities For Action
- The Administration announced that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. It is clear that higher education, in alignment with a grand coalition of other vital sectors of the US economy, must continue to lead the nation’s climate actions. Join mayors, governors, and business leaders in demonstrating our national commitment to the principles and targets of the Paris Agreement. This joint statement is the first time that these sectors have joined together publicly in a strong show of support for climate action that is so vital to the future of our country.
The Put A Price On It campaign is seeking endorsements from college and university presidents in support of carbon pricing, as an effective and pragmatic solution to climate change. The campaign, led by the non-profit Our Climate and the National Geographic series Years of Living Dangerously, works with student leaders across the country to build support for carbon pricing, and elevates the importance of the policy through film, celebrity endorsements, and social media. The president endorsement letter can be found online here, and questions can be directed to Page Atcheson at [email protected].
- IEN is pleased to support The SRI Conference Student Scholarship. The scholarship is run by a group of First Affirmative Financial Network alumni and longtime affiliates to bring qualified young people to The SRI Conference. Their goal is to insure that the culture, commitment, and competence of the pioneer SRI movement be sustained into the next generation. Applications are accepted through September 11th; click here to apply. Winners are announced in late September. For questions or additional information on this program, please contact [email protected]
Protect Shareholders. Strike the Financial Choice Act 2.0.
- Shareholder democracy is being profoundly threatened by Section 844 of the proposed Financial CHOICE Act 2.0. This new legislation, which could be voted on as early as May 2, would fundamentally impair investors' rights to file shareholder resolutions. The new rule would permit only a tiny fraction of the globe’s wealthiest investors (those who own more than 1% of more of a company’s stock) to file shareholder proposals. Sign this petition to protect shareholder rights.
- ESG in Infrastructure & Private Market Investing l UN PRI, June 29th, 2017, New York, NY
- Webinar: First-time Fund Managers in Emerging Markets Bring a New Model to PE in Africa l Intentional Endowments Network, July 11th, 2017 1:00 PM EDT
Impact Capitalism Summit - Nantucket | Big Path Capital, July 19-20, 2017, Nantucket, MA
- IEN will be partnering with Big Path, Ceres and others to host a pre-conference session on July 19th on "Accelerating the Transition to Clean Energy"
AASHE Conference and Expo: Stronger in Solidarity l AASHE, October 15-18, 2017, San Antonio, TX
- IEN will be hosting a session on investing in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals and participating in a session on investing in clean energy.
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:
- Considerations for ESG Policy Development l The Intentional Endowments Network & Cambridge Associates
- The Paris Agreement in the Investment Policy: Sample Language for Integrating the Goals of the Paris Climate Agreement into an IPS l The Intentional Endowments Network & Cambridge Associates
Leading Practice Briefing on Fiduciary Duties for Endowments and Foundations l Intentional Endowments Network
Updated Regulatory Guidance on Proxy Voting and Sustainable Investment l Intentional Endowments Network
- Higher Education, Endowments & The Paris Agreement: Summary of the Intentional Endowments Network 2016 Strategic Planning Summit l Intentional Endowments Network
- Impact Investing in Sustainable Food and Agriculture across Asset Classes: Financing Resilient Value Chains through Total Portfolio Activation l Trillium Asset Management
Best of Sustainable Finance l Bloomberg Reports
- Make a Clean Break: Your Guide to Fossil Fuel Free Investing l Trillium Asset Management, Green Century & 350
- The Business Case for the Current SEC Shareholder Proposal Process l Ceres, ICCR & US SIF
- 2017 Green Transition Scoreboard Report | Ethical Markets
- SDG Impact Theme Framework: Aligning Impact Investments with UN Sustainable Development Goals l TONIIC
- The Value of Corporate Purpose: A Guide for CEOs and Entrepreneurs l KKS Advisors & The Generation Foundation
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:
3 Ps Critical to Investing in Aftermath of US Withdrawal from Paris Agreement l Chief Investment Officer
Cambridge Associates and the Intentional Endowments Network Outline a Blueprint for Action for Investors Wishing to Uphold Aims of Paris Climate Agreement and Implement Environmental Factors Into Portfolios l Market Wired
- Women Stakeholders, DAPL and Socially Responsible Investing l EcoWatch
- Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) Launches Initiative for Institutional Impact Investment l GIIN
- Most Global Investors Recognize Financial Risk of Climate Change, Report Finds l Asset Owner Disclosure Project
- Colleges’ Message on Upholding Paris Climate Accord: ‘We Are Still In’ l The Chronicle of Higher Education
- Now Is the Time for Foundations to Invest for Mission and Impact l Stanford Social Innovation Review
- A New Spin on ESG ETFs l ETF Trends
- "First Big 2017 Win For Shareholders And Women On Gender Pay Equity" As Starbucks Responds To Investor Pressure | MarketWatch
- Impact-Investing Benchmarks Finally Arrive l Barron's
- The Business Case for the Paris Climate Accord l The New York Times
- Financial Firms Lead Shareholder Rebellion Against ExxonMobil Climate Change Policies l The Washinton Post
- Institutional Investors to Boost ESG Investments | CIO Magazine
- Withdrawal From Paris Accord Will Spur Interest in ESG, Advisers Say l Investment News
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 Georges Dyer at [email protected].