Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Al Gore back on the TED stage: Optimism on Climate Change

Ten years after his first TED talk (the first one I ever watched back in 2006!) Al Gore is back on the main stage at TED, reinforcing the urgency of the science of climate change, and also doing a great job of explaining how we're crossing positive tipping points in terms of lower costs for renewable energy and broader support for the kind of climate action we need:

Stay going.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Intentional Endowments Network -- formal launch & founding members

Yesterday we announced the Founding Member group of the Intentional Endowment Network (IEN), the initiative I've been working on for the past couple of years.

This project grew out of an initial forum held in Boston partnership with Hampshire College in April 2014. It was clear from that event that an ongoing network to serve as a venue for learning and collaboration was necessary to help colleges and universities tackle sustainable and ESG investing in their endowments.

After 18-months of what was essentially a pilot phase, we're thrilled with the nearly 80 institutions that have joined on as the core group to more formally launch this initiative.

Please check out and share the press release (also pasted below).

Higher education and the financial system are two of the most influential sectors of our society. The former shapes and reinforces the mental models and modes of thinking for most of our leaders and professionals. The latter shapes our business models and modes of development. By working at the intersection of the two to integrate the goal of creating a healthy, just, and sustainable society, this network holds the promise of having a profound positive impact on the world, now and for generations to come.



77 Founding Members Launch the Intentional Endowments Network to Support Growing Interest in ESG Investing 

Boston, MA (March 14, 2016) – The Intentional Endowments Network (IEN) today announced the launch of a peer network designed to support endowment investment practices that address environmental, social, governance (ESG) and sustainability factors in order to enhance financial returns and align with institutional mission and values. The network launched with 77 Founding Members including 27 asset owners. 

Founding Members include: Arizona State University, ASU Foundation, Becker College, California State University, Calvert Investments, Carleton College, Hampshire College, Hanley Foundation, Litterman Family Foundation, Middlebury College, Portland State University, San Francisco State University Foundation, Wallace Global Fund, UBS Asset Management, University of Maine and University of Massachusetts Foundation. Regular membership enrollment is now open to all endowments, foundations and practitioners of ESG and sustainable investing. For more details, visit www.intentionalendowments.org/membership.

“The California State University is committed to staying informed and educated in ways that support a sustainable future,” said Garrett Ashley, Vice Chancellor of University Relations and Advancement at The CSU “each of our 23 campuses has unique needs and requires that we are thoughtful when making investment decisions. The Intentional Endowments Network is an invaluable resource for endowments and other investors designed to make good stewardship the norm.” 

“Colleges and universities have been leaders in advancing sustainability through education, research, campus operations and community engagement. Now, they are leveraging the financial and social capital of their endowments to support those efforts by taking a more comprehensive approach to sustainability risks and opportunities in the investment process,” said Anthony Cortese, Co-Founder of IEN, and former President of Second Nature, Dean at Tufts University, and Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
To support the development of intentionally designed endowments – that consider institutional mission, values, and sustainability risks and opportunities – the network facilitates peer-to-peer connection and learning, thought leadership, and collaborative action. A Steering Committee composed of leaders from higher education, non-profit organizations and the investment industry guides IEN’s work. Collectively, the network identifies practical options for administrators and trustees to successfully enhance their institutions’ approach to sustainable investment and address stakeholders’ concerns.

“There are many important considerations in managing endowments. Increasingly, investors are coming to see climate change, human rights abuses, and other social and environmental challenges as material investment risks,” said Jonathan Lash, President of Hampshire College. “Regardless of how endowments ultimately decide to address these risks, all should be intentional in considering them and fostering educational dialogues on campus about them.”
“Because of the enthusiastic response from endowments and the investment community during IEN’s eighteen-month pilot phase we are now substantially expanding our activities in 2016,” said Georges Dyer, Co-Founder of IEN. The network will host interactive, action-oriented forums for senior decision makers in Chicago and San Francisco. It will enable endowments to support implementation of the Paris Climate Agreements, and host a webinar series to inform endowments on industry developments. The network will publish articles and reports on sustainable investing topics such as fiduciary duty, shareholder engagement, and financial performance, for trustees and other decision makers.

“Endowments have a unique opportunity, where doing the right thing for the climate – reducing stranded carbon asset risk and investing in solutions – is also the smart thing for their investment portfolios,” said Bob Litterman, Litterman Family Foundation and Chair of the Risk Committee at Kepos Capital, LP. “The Intentional Endowments Network is the venue for finding the best ways to take advantage of these opportunities.”
About the Intentional Endowments Network
The Intentional Endowments Network (IEN) is a collaborative network advancing intentionally designed endowments through a variety of strategies – including ESG integration, impact investing, shareholder engagement – that will make a significant and critical contribution to creating a healthy, just, and sustainable society.  It supports colleges, universities, and other mission-driven organizations in aligning their endowment investment practices with their mission, values, and sustainability goals without sacrificing financial returns. IEN is an initiative of The Crane Institute of Sustainability, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit. It is coordinated by Georges Dyer and Tony Cortese and based in Boston, MA. 


Stay going. 


Thursday, March 10, 2016

We've breached 2 degrees

Heat records are again being obliterated. Anyone in New England yesterday has a visceral sense of this after experiencing summer in March.

And the news is coming in that we've breached the dreaded 2 degree average temperature rise. These climate changes aren't linear, so it will likely (hopefully) take some time before we're consistently over that level -- in fact, hopefully we'll never be consistently over that level, because that will be a chaotic and dangerous world -- but if we needed any more evidence that the urgency of this challenge is extreme, we've got it.

More details from Slate: Our Hemisphere’s Temperature Just Reached a Terrifying Milestone

Op-Ed from Bill McKibben: The mercury doesn’t lie: We’ve hit a troubling climate change milestone

Stay going.