Saturday, April 26, 2014

Bill Moyers Covers the Divestment Movement

Bill Moyers sat down and talked with Ellen Dorsey, Executive Director of the Wallace Global Fund and Tom Van Dyck, Chairman of As You Sow about the fossil fuel divestment movement. 

The conversation does a great job of covering some of the key issues -- including myths and concerns around the perception that divesting necessarily means sacrificing returns and could represent a breach of fiduciary duty and the risks that unburnable fossil fuel reserves represent to investment portfolios and society as a whole. 

Stay going.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Intentionally Designed Endowment: A Primer

What is an “intentionally designed endowment”?  Earlier this month, with support from a high caliber Steering Committee, we convened a group of representatives from endowed institutions and the finance industry to explore this question. The event was a partnership by Second Nature and Hampshire College intended to open up a constructive conversation around the opportunities in sustainability investing for non-profit institutions.

We developed a primer for participants to establish a baseline understanding of key issues related to aligning investment practices with institutional values. It provides a high-level overview of sustainability investing, including a brief history, and a select list of key resources and relevant organizations.

Any non-profit administrator or trustee with fiduciary responsibility or involved with investment policies should be familiar with this rapidly evolving field: Intentionally Designed Endowment Primer

While we are all aware of the fossil fuel divestment movement – which has been instrumental in bringing increased attention to endowment investment practices – this was not a meeting about divestment.

We learned about the broad range of socially responsible investing (SRI) and environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing strategies now available, many of which now have long track records with performance equal to or better than conventional investment approaches. We heard from investment professionals about a range of implementation strategies for aligning investment practices with institutional values. A panel of legal experts clarified the issues of fiduciary responsibility as they relate to integrating ESG criteria into investment decision-making.

Risks and opportunities related to environmental challenges, social issues, and corporate governance are increasingly relevant to investment portfolios as society’s sustainability challenges become more acute. Non-profit endowments have a tremendous opportunity to avoid losses and maximize returns, while better aligning their investment practices with institutional values.

Stay going.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Institutional Investor Covers Fossil Fuel Divestment

Great to see Institutional Investor cover the divestment movement with the video below and this article: Climate Change and the Fossil Fuel Divestiture Movement.

One of my favorite lines from the article: "In the same way that there was plenty of money to be made in U.S. subprime mortgages until there wasn't, many investors see a lot of opportunities right now in the energy sector."

It was great to see a couple of participants from our recent Intentionally Designed Endowment event in the video -- keynote speaker Bob Litterman speaking on the risk management aspects of this, and Responsible Endowments Coalition Executive Director Dan Apfel, talking about the student movement.

Stay going.