Western New England University, Bard College, and the Sierra Club Foundation Join Growing List of Colleges, Universities, Foundations, and Other Nonprofit Institutions Committing to Evaluate Sustainable Retirement Plan Options with Renewed Focus on Climate and Social Justice
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 14, 2023 – Western New England University, the Sierra Club Foundation, and Bard College have become signatories of the Intentional Endowments Network’s (IEN) Sustainable Retirements Plan Pledge. IEN’s Sustainable Retirement Plan pledge, supported by Second Nature and The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), establishes that university and nonprofit “employees deserve a range of sustainable investing retirement fund options that consider environmental, social, and governance factors, consistent with the goals of reducing risk, protecting capital, and enhancing financial returns.”
By signing this Pledge, these institutions have set the intention to review its current retirement plan fund offerings and assess the sustainable investing options currently available. Western New England University, Bard College, and the Sierra Club Foundation will also work with plan administrators to determine if there are suitable sustainable investing options for plans that take into account the best interest of the University’s beneficiaries and their retirement goals.
“The University supports this pledge as its 403(b) retirement plan currently offers a socially responsible mutual fund in its investment lineup and is committed to evaluating sustainable investment fund offerings going forward,” said Basil Stewart, V.P. for Finance and Administration at Western New England University.
“Sierra Club Foundation believes in putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to investing our assets in investments that take ESG factors and environmental sustainability into account,” said Kevin McGahan, CFO of the Sierra Club Foundation. “Sierra Club Foundation signed onto the Sustainable Retirement Plan pledge because we believe in providing our staff with investment options that help to align their values with the funds they invest in for their retirements."
Currently open for additional signers, the IEN Sustainable Retirements pledge was first adopted by Arizona State University, The ASU Foundation, Chatham University, Lewis & Clark College, and the NorthLight Foundation.
“Institutional retirement plans represent trillions in investments, and we at IEN are committed to ensuring that they offer participants options that align with the transition to a sustainable future, so retirees are not caught ‘holding the bag’ of risky investments that are not positioned for the transition to a more equitable, clean energy and low-carbon economy.”said Georges Dyer, Executive Director of IEN.
The Sustainable Retirements Pledge was first announced at IEN’s Institutional Investor Roundtable during Climate Week in September 2022, to an audience of over 100 endowment trustees, CIOs, investment staff, asset managers, investment consultants, outsourced CIOs, retirement planning experts, sustainability leaders, faculty, and nonprofit partners.
Demand for sustainable investing is increasing. There are nearly $1 trillion in assets held in 403(b) employee retirement plans. ESG assets are predicted to grow to $53 trillion by 2025, which would comprise one-third of all global assets under management. The interest in sustainable investing is also reflected in demands on investment managers, and a stronger connection between investment returns and sustainable outcomes is being established. Including sustainable investment options in 403(b) retirement plans can mitigate investment risk and yield greater economic resilience.
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The Intentional Endowments Network (IEN) is a peer learning network of colleges, universities, and other mission-driven institutional investors working together to achieve their risk and return objectives through investment actions that create a thriving, sustainable economy. IEN has more than 200 network members including endowments, asset managers, investment consultants, nonprofit partners, and individuals.