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Industry News: ESG5

Spotlight on Investors: Wespath

Founded in 1908, Wespath is a non-profit agency serving the United Methodist Church. It supervises and administers retirement plans, investment funds and health and welfare benefit plans for active and retired clergy and lay employees of the Church. As a faith-based organization, Wespath seeks to promote the values of the United Methodist Church as expressed in the Social Principle by integrating environmental, social and governance factors in the selection of investments across asset classes and into the selection of external managers. The organization had over $ 21.9 billion of assets under management as of December 31st, 2018.

Wespath is actively involved in shareholder and public policy advocacy, proxy voting, portfolio screening and community investing (notably through their Positive Social Purpose Lending Program that has cumulatively invested over $2 billion in affordable housing, and community development in underserved communities of the United States). Wespath's exclusion policy is guided by ethical considerations, as such, the organization avoids investments in companies whose activity involves the production, distribution, and marketing of alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, adult entertainment, weapons, gambling, and privately-operated correctional facilities. Additionally, Wespath has adopted a Human Rights Guideline which excludes the sovereign debt of any country demonstrating prolonged and systematic pattern of human rights abuses according to Freedom House's annual survey: Freedom in the World. Finally, Wespath is a founding signatory to the UN PRI and an active member of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.

Investment Policy

Curbing Global Warming is Essential to Investors and the Planet: Mercer

2019-04-09

Advisor's Edge: The firm published a report that models three different scenarios, examining the impact of average warming of two, three and four degrees Celsius over three timeframes (to 2030, 2050 and 2100). For both investors and the planet, limiting warming to 2°C is ideal, the report found.

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Trillion-dollar Investor says Hitting Climate Goals will Cost Less “than we had feared”

2019-04-11

Quartz: Legal & General Investment Management is one of the world’s largest investors, with more than £1 trillion in assets. LGIM announced that it has built its own energy-transition model to guide companies it invests in to align with climate goals set under the Paris climate agreement.

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Asset-specific Climate Risks to Improve Investor Analysis – Report

2019-04-04

Pensions & Investments: The report, "Getting physical: Scenario analysis for assessing climate risks," uses new tools and data to articulate the potential impact on different U.S. asset classes, including municipal bonds, utilities, commercial real estate and commercial mortgage-backed securities.

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Climate Change Investment Strategy

2019-04

FS Super: Over time the analysis, supported by independent research, determined that climate change is an investment risk and, as a prudent investor, that needed to address that risk. This paper sets out the strategy, how they have implemented it and some of the frameworks they have used.

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The African Development Bank launches a Social Bond and a Green Bond

2019-04-08

African Development Bank Group: The African Development Bank successfully priced a dual tranche NOK 500 million 3-year fixed Social Bond and SEK 1.25 billion 5-year fixed Green Bond transaction. The three-year tranche is the very first Social Bond issued in the Norwegian market. It was also the first ever NOK transaction issued by the Bank and the third Social Bond issued under its Social Bond framework. 

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Guest Viewpoint: Manuel Adamini, Sean Flannery, Toby Heaps and Eloy Lindeijer

2019-04

IPE: The green bonds market has grown from nothing to about $500bn (€443bn) outstanding in just a decade. Hundreds of issuers have offered thousands of deals now coming from about 50 countries. This is a global phenomenon. 

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Long-term Matters: Lessons for Climate Action 100+

2019-04

IPE: Climate Action 100+ (CA100+), the engagement focused collaboration with the strapline ‘global investors driving business transition’ now numbers 323 investors and appears to be hitting its stride.

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S&P Dow Jones Indices to Launch Sustainable-Investment Index

2019-04-08

The Wall Street JournalS&P Dow Jones Indices, a unit of S&P Global Inc., is launching an environmental, social and governance version of its S&P 500 index to meet increasing investor demand for sustainable-investment vehicles based on U.S. equities, the company said.

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ING’s Quest to Turn 'Sustainable Finance' into just … Finance

2019-04-08

GreenBiz: The $5.2 billion water technology Xylem disclosed the execution of a new $800 million loan meant to finance ongoing investments in its business. It’s not the size of the loan that’s significant — it’s the terms that guide how it will be paid back.

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Spotlight on Investors: The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation

John Wilson McConnell, a Canadian businessman and philanthropist, founded the McConnell Foundation in 1937. The Montreal-based organization seeks to address social, cultural and environmental challenges through the use of impact investing and philanthropic grants. As of December 31st 2017, the Foundation had CA $650 million of assets under management. 

The Foundation focuses on the following areas: Sustainable Food, Health, Arts and Culture, Entrepreneurship, Environment, Affordable Housing, Civic Assets, Energy, Water and Indigenous Communities. By 2020, the McConnell Foundation seeks to invest 10% of its assets in impact investments. The organization invests for impact in two ways: Mission-Related Investments (investments aligned with the Foundation's mission and expected to have market or above-market returns) and Program-Related Investments (investments that further specific program objectives and that have a tolerance for below-market returns).

Impact Investing: Due Diligence Guide Part 1

Global Sustainable Investments Rise 34 Percent to $30.7 Trillion

2019-04-01

Bloomberg: Global socially responsible investments grew by 34 percent to $30.7 trillion over the past two years, lifted by Japanese pension funds, retail investors everywhere and broad, growing concern about climate change.

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Impact Investment Universe Grows to $502bn

2019-03-31

Financial Times: The global impact investment market is worth more than half a trillion dollars, according to the most comprehensive study to date of one of the fastest-growing areas of asset management.

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Global Impact Investing Network Publishes Standards Guide

2019-04-03

Opalesque: The Core Characteristics, which have been developed with input from leaders across the impact investing industry, will help investors understand the essential elements of impact investing, define the credibility of their practices, and consider the quality of the practices of potential investment partners.

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Navigating the Complexities of Social Impact Bonds for the SDGs

2019-04-04

UNDP: The potential of social impact bonds (SIBs) to contribute to an estimated US$2.5 – 3 trillionin annual investment for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has attracted increased attention over recent years.

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ESG: The Missing Dimension in Risk Management

2019-04

IPE: ESG is on everybody’s lips these days but there are still no generally accepted standards as to what it really entails – or even what it means. Moreover, today’s investment management norms in a benchmark-focused world still materially constrain ESG actions.

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Companies Face Mini-wave of Plastic Pollution Proposals

2019-04-05

IR Magazine: Petrochemical companies are facing pressure to disclose incidents where they have spilled plastic into the ocean, which leads to what is said to be a major source of pollution.

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Norway SWF Gets Green Light for up to €18bn in Renewables

2019-04-05

IPE: The Norwegian government is allowing the country’s NOK9trn (€932bn) sovereign wealth fund (SWF) to invest up to 2% of the fund’s value in unlisted renewable energy infrastructure.

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Investment Association Reveals UK Gender Pay Gap Challenges

2019-04-02

IR MagazineWith the government’s gender pay gap reporting deadline of April 4 only two days away, UK asset management trade body the Investment Association (IA) has today launched a new report that looks into the make-up of the gender pay gap in the asset management sector.

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Bank Boards Told to show More Discretion on Executive Pay

2019-03-28

The Sydney Morning Herald: Amid disagreement between investors over how best to structure executive pay packets, company directors say the regulator may need to help boards withstand short-term pressure from investors by encouraging a more "holistic" view of pay and performance.

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Spotlight on Investors: OPTrust

Founded in 1994, OPTrust manages the OPSEU Pension Plan, one of the largest defined benefit plans in Canada. The plan is jointly sponsored by the Province of Ontario and Ontario's Public Service Employees Union. As of December 31st, 2018, the Fund had close to CA$ 20 billion of assets under management.

As long-term investors, OPTrust recognizes that ESG factors impact investment risk and return, and its reputation. As such, its Statement of Investment Policies and Proceduresmentions that all investment teams are accountable for all taken ESG-related risks. OPTrust's Responsible Investing Strategy includes the consideration of ESG risks, Active Ownership, and Stakeholder Engagement. Furthermore, the Fund does not invest in companies involved in manufacturing tobacco products, cluster munitions and anti-personnel landmines (in accordance to international conventions signed by Canada).

Statement of Responsible Investing Principles
 
 
 

Nuclear Power Excluded from EU’s Green Investment Label

2019-03-29

Euractiv: The European Parliament voted on a proposed classification for sustainable assets on Thursday (28 March), voting to exclude nuclear power from receiving a green stamp of approval on financial markets.

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Big Four Banks Form Climate Investment Initiative

2019-03-27

Financial Review: Australia's four major banks have joined forces with insurers and superannuation funds to back an initiative that aims to reshape the financial system to deal with climate change, in one of the strongest signs yet that the industry is taking the threat of environmental upheaval seriously.

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Renewable Energy: Investing in an Evolving Generation Landscape

2019-04-01

FS Super: Over the past decade, wind and solar have provided the bulk of additional generation capacity to the National Electricity Market (NEM), replacing retired coal and gas-fired plants. Despite a significant number of regulatory and policy changes directly affecting the relative economics of the different sources of generation, wind and utility-scale solar generation capacity has more than doubled, from 2.3GW in 2012 to 4.8GW in July 2018, with a strong acceleration over the past 24 months, in particular for utility-scale solar.

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Companies Move Towards Greater Workforce Transparency Following Investor Demand

2019-03-27

Share Action: 90 global companies, including 21 of the world’s 100 largest firms, have responded to investor calls for more consistent and comparable workforce data – a request aimed at improving the quality of jobs worldwide and helping to tackle inequality and poverty.

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UN Accuses Blackstone Group of Contributing to Global Housing Crisis

2019-03-26

The Guardian: The UN’s housing advisor has accused private equity firms and one of the world’s largest corporate residential landlords, Blackstone Group, of exploiting tenants, “wreaking havoc” in communities and helping to fuel a global housing crisis.

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Women Running the Money? Rarely at Hedge Funds

2019-03-29

Reuters: Generous salary and juicy bonus? Check. Client meetings at private members’ club? Check. Swanky Mayfair office? Check. Company maternity scheme? Maybe, we’ll get back to you.

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The Importance of the Infrastructure Sector to the Sustainable Development Goals

2019-03-26

Forbes: In this post, Bob Eccles will analyze the importance of the infrastructure sector. It’s overall score is 21.4—compared to 36.0 for food and beverage, 32.6 for healthcare, 30.4 for extractives & mineral processing, 28.4 for resource transformation, 23.8 for renewables and alternative energy, 20.1 for consumption—putting it the low end of the sectors he has written about so far.

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When will we See More Gender Equality in Investing?

2019-03-25

Harvard Business ReviewAside from professional sports, the investment business — encompassing investment management, mutual, hedge, private equity, and venture capital funds — might have the lowest percentage of women at the top of the pyramid (at 4%). And women only control between 1% and 3.5% of assets under management, depending on specific class.

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Citi Issues Inaugural Structured Green Bond

 2019-03-25

Digital Journal: Citi has issued and traded its first structured green bond, distributed by UBS Global Wealth Management. The proceeds will fund green projects in renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transportation, water quality and conservation, and green buildings as defined in Citi’s Green Bond Framework.

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