Responsible Investing Working Group Report Going to Board of Governors on June 5

The Responsible Investing Working Group (RIWG) released its report to the University community for the first time on Thursday, May 31, as part of the agenda package of the Board of Governors (BoG) meeting happening in only a few days (Tuesday, June 5). The agenda contains a motion to endorse and implement the report recommendations.

This working group was formed in response to the strong interest and advocacy of some UW community delegations. It was tasked with making recommendations on whether and how to incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into decision making for the investment of the university’s endowments and your pension funds.

Our members are keenly interested in how their pensions are managed. In a March 28 blog post, we said we would “seek input from members and formulate a response” when the report was released.

As I hope you will understand, FAUW is unable to keep our commitment to you. Four working days is not enough time for the FAUW Board to read and understand the report and then gather feedback on it from our members. As such, we requested that this agenda item be for information only at the June 5 BoG meeting, thereby delaying the vote until the next meeting, in October. This request was denied.
Continue reading “Responsible Investing Working Group Report Going to Board of Governors on June 5”

Faculty Members Advocate for Divestment from Fossil Fuels

This is a guest post submitted by a member. For FAUW’s position on this issue, please see our recent blog post on the Responsible Investing Working Group.

—David DeVidi, Philosophy

The global movement to divest from fossil fuels has been growing on our campus since 2015, initially driven by undergraduate and graduate students. Faculty members are now organizing to support students in their call to the administration to withdraw our endowment and pension investments from fossil fuels and re-invest in a low carbon future. This post outlines the reasons for divestment and the progress toward it—globally and on our campus—and welcomes you to get involved.

Why divest?

Available data indicate that our university has invested at least $68 million in fossil fuels, in companies like BP, Total, Exxon/Imperial Oil, and Royal Dutch Shell that have been leading contributors to the climate crisis. There are pressing environmental and ethical reasons to withdraw our support from these companies. There are also reputational costs to consider: it is difficult to present Waterloo as an innovative, socially responsible university concerned with advancing environmental sustainability if our investments say otherwise.

The financial case for divestment is also very strong. A PhD student in our School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED) program estimated that our university lost approximately $20 million over the 2011-15 period by investing in fossil fuels as opposed to having a low-carbon portfolio. These significant losses mirror the ongoing devaluation of fossil fuels as the global community decarbonizes to align with the 2015 United Nations’ Paris Agreement. Continue reading “Faculty Members Advocate for Divestment from Fossil Fuels”

Where Does FAUW Stand on the Responsible Investing Working Group?

We have received some questions about the Responsible Investing Working Group, which is tasked with making recommendations about whether and how to incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into decision making for the investment of the university’s endowment and pension funds.

This working group was created in good part in response to approaches by faculty, students, and staff with interests and concerns about how the university invests, in particular calls for the University to divest from fossil fuels. It is a working group of the Board of Governors, since it is the Board that has primary oversight of investments. The FAUW representative is Alan Macnaughton who is also a member of the Pension and Benefits Committee.

The working group has not yet produced its report. Anyone interested in these issues who has not yet provided input to the group should do so as soon as possible. You can send your input to Mike Grivicic in the Secretariat.

FAUW is looking forward to the release of the working group’s report. We will seek input from members and formulate a response at that time. Please make sure you follow our blog and emails if these are issues of interest to you.

News From Your Board: March 8 Meeting Recap

—Peter Johnson, director for the Faculty of Environment

Collegial, yet occasionally salty, language ensued at our first meeting after reading week.

The Board received an update from Alan Macnaughton on discussions by the Responsible Investing Working Group, specifically on the possibility of divestment from fossil fuels. Alan indicated that conversations focus on integrating environmental, social, and governance factors in investment decisions, and that government regulations pose challenges to the possibility of divestment.

Of great interest was a quick analysis of data on the gender and appointment type of faculty hires from 2012–2017. We’ll be bringing a fuller analysis to Senate this spring, so stay tuned for more details.

The Board continued its discussion of the Policy Review Project, and of how best to ensure that policies that affect members’ conditions of employment are drafted with full FAUW participation.

Upcoming events and initiatives from FAUW include a survey of members about the fall break schedule (look for this later this month), a new faculty event at the Grad House on March 21 (2:30-4:30), and the Spring General Meeting on April 5 (QNC 2502 from 11:30 to 1:30). More events are listed on our website.