Founded in 1917 by John Emory Andrus, the Surdna Foundation seeks to foster sustainable communities by focusing on social justice, healthy environments, inclusive communities and thriving cultures. The Surdna Foundation had US$ 976 million of assets under management as at June 30, 2017.
In 2014, the Surdna Foundation looked at how they could use their endowment to support their mission by providing investment capital to fund innovative, market-based approaches that address systemic challenges while generating both social and financial returns. In 2017, the Foundation created a US$ 100 million fund to allocate to Mission-related Investments and Program-related Investments.
IPE: A small Australian industry fund, First Super, has placed its A$143m (€88.3m) investment with global fund manager Orbis Investment Advisory “on watch” to enforce its ESG concerns.
Top 1000 Funds: The gender gap in modern day companies begins in the preferences of CEOs developed during seminal years and produces significant real effects including reduced productivity and company performance according to a new academic study.
Financial Times: Many of the world’s biggest investors have long supported calls for companies to spell out their carbon emissions. But a growing number of large asset managers are going a step further, warning they will actively punish board executives at companies that do not improve their pollution disclosure. [Full article available to Financial Times subscribers.]
Reuters: About one-fifth of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System public markets portfolio is exposed to potential losses from climate change, the $381 billion pension fund manager reported this week in its first ever climate-risk disclosure report.
Investment Europe: The board of the Swedish Investment Fund Association (Fondbolagens förening) has adopted a pathway for reporting carbon emissions from fund investments.The pathway adheres to recommendations issued by the Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), and also makes possible reporting carbon footprints for fixed interest and balanced funds.
Reuters: The first public report on climate-related risks to financial markets ever commissioned by a U.S. market regulator will be out in June, the head of the group charged with writing it said on Wednesday.
Opalesque: Probable sexual harassment at fund portfolio management firms is an increasingly important concern for institutional investors as they seek to allocate assets.
Bloomberg: There’s been a lot of attention given lately to ESG investing, but not always a lot of explanation. What the E in ESG stands for is easy to guess -- environmental. The G, governance, is harder to remember but at least is specific. The S on the other hand, is neither easy to guess or pin down: social.
The Nature Conservancy, an environmental non-profit based in the United States, launched in 2010 a Capital Impact Fund, with support from the Robertson Foundation, to leverage private capital for conserving ecosystems. In 2014, with the support of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., the Nature Conservancy formed NatureVest – a dedicated conservation finance platform. Its goal is to source and deploy $1 billion of investment capital by 2021.
NatureVest's mission is to source deals where private capital is key to achieve significant scale of conservation. As such, the organization structures investments for institutional investors and high-net worth individuals. NatureVest's focus is to further the mission of the Nature Conservancy in fields such as water management, ocean protection, forest management, and green infrastructure.
GreenBiz: Alas, sustainability reporting teams, the complex array of frameworks for companies to frame and disclose environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues for external stakeholders won’t become simpler overnight. But the role of different, sometimes competing standards is becoming clearer.
The Australian Financial Review: Former High Court judge and royal commissioner Kenneth Hayne has warned directors they have a legal duty to act on climate change risk, include it in corporate strategies and report on it to shareholders, raising the real prospect that boards failing to act could end up in court.
Top 1000 Funds: Impact investment and its combination of financial returns and social or environmental purpose is beginning to move from fringe to the financial mainstream. It is part of a natural trajectory in the evolution of ESG investment first seen back in the 1800s when Quakers developed screens on slavery and tobacco investments. More recently, investors have focused on corporate social responsibility and today they have an increasing eye on impact combining intention and measurement.
Institutional Investor: The sheer volume of data available tracking companies’ environmental, social and governance standings has exploded in recent years. But the ESG conclusions that can be drawn from the information are still limited, according to a white paper published Thursday by Generation Investment Management.
Financial Times: When the private equity executive Lise Fauconnier led Ardian’s investment in logistics specialist Staci in October, acquiring a majority stake, it was not just another feather in the cap for an experienced investor with an impressive record. The managing director’s success was also another example of the efficacy of gender diversity in executive teams in buyout and growth operations. [Full article available to Financial Times subscribers.]
HedgeWeek: Companies ranked in the bottom 50 per cent of ESG performance are significantly more likely to attract activists’ attention, according to the findings of Alvarez & Marsal’s (A&M) latest analysis and predictor of shareholder activism in Europe, the A&M Activist Alert (AAA).
The Guardian: Here’s a good question for Larry Fink, the BlackRock billionaire, to address when he dispatches his lofty annual “dear CEO” letter in the new year. Is his firm guilty of “greenwashing”? In other words, is the world’s biggest fund manager, with an astonishing $7tn of assets under its roof, posing as a pioneer of climate activism while actually dragging its feet?
IPE: There is no doubt that the ideas behind ESG have become mainstream in the world of private equity. What the implications are though, and differentiating ‘greenwashing’ from truly positive impact investing, remain challenges for both investors and general partners (GPs).
IPE: More than a thousand Google employees have signed a public letter calling on the company to take bold action on climate change. They joined employees in other companies such as Amazon and Microsoft who published similar letters, calling their companies to take real action on climate change in response to the climate crisis.
Founded in 1924, Verka VK Kirchliche Vorsorge VVaG is a specialist insurer for employees in the German Church. As at December 31, 2018, the firm managed US$ 2.225 billion of assets on behalf of 50,000 beneficiaries.
Verka's investment process is based on social compatibility, ecology and intergenerational fairness. As such, the firm does not invest in businesses linked to human rights violations, child labor, pollution, corruption, controversial weapons, alcohol, coal, oil, tobacco, animal testing, nuclear energy and green genetic engineering. Further, the Fixed Income portfolio may not be invested in states that disregard political and democratic rights, corruption, climate change standards, UN convention on Biodiversity and who practice the death penalty. Additionally, Verka applies a best-in-class screen to identify companies and states whose ESG performance outperforms their peers. In September 2019, the UN PRI chose Verka in their Leaders' Group for their approach to responsible investment.
IPE Real Assets: The term ‘stranded assets’ has long been used to describe oil, gas and coal reserves that need to be prematurely devalued due to their carbon-intensive properties. However, the term is increasingly being applied to other sectors with assets that are at risk of losing their value due to climate change.
Bloomberg: Norway’s $1.1 trillion sovereign wealth fund plans to expand its work on assessing climate risk, from pushing for better company reporting to expanding flood analysis for its real estate assets.
Reuters: European investors managing assets worth more than 1 trillion pounds ($1.28 trillion) are pressing top auditors to take urgent action on climate-related risks, warning that failure to do so could do more damage than the financial crisis.
Citywire: Legal & General Investment Management, Allianz Global Investors and UBS Asset Management are the three large-scale asset managers that strongly and consistently engage with companies to align their business models with the Paris climate targets.
Citywire: Lack of standardization in reporting and data was the leading concern, with 58% of those surveyed for the report viewing it as the biggest challenge. This is while half of the respondents saw the lack of relevant disclosures from clients as equally challenging.
HedgeWeek: ESG governance considers a number of factors that determine the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment. As such, greater regulation of ESG investments could help ensure they meet the standards required, ranging from a company’s energy use to how much pollution it creates.
Financial Times: France’s top financial regulator has urged Europe to move faster on setting common standards for environmental, social and governance investing to prevent widespread “greenwashing”. [Full article available to Financial Times subscribers.]
IPE: As of today, the ESG ratings of more than 2,800 companies – those making up the MSCI ACWI index – are accessible via a search tool on msci.com. Next year a further 4,700 companies will be covered as MSCI ESG Research said it planned to make publicly available the ESG ratings for more than 7,500 companies in the MSCI ACWI Investable Markets Index.
Bloomberg: Major fund managers, including BlackRock Inc. and Amundi Asset Management, are running into a roadblock as they seek to put more money into emerging-market sustainable investments: a lack of common global definitions that would make it easier to identify what to buy.