Responsible Investing Background

In developing the original Responsible Investment Policy, UBC had many discussions with representatives of peer institutions and with leaders in the responsible investment field.

This collaboration has continued to date with the comprehensive Responsible Investing Strategy developed and implemented by UBC IMANT in 2020 that fully embraces the principles of responsible investing and reflects the university’s commitment to divest from fossil fuels and foster positive social change.

Timeline

2010

In 2010, the UBC ‘s Responsible Investment Committee for the Endowment began discussions with external experts and other universities, as well as a review of best practices, to determine an effective approach to responsible investment for UBC’s Endowment.

2013

An initial strategy was adopted in June 2013. The strategy identified ongoing investment in campus environmental and social projects, committed UBC to join the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, and appointed a task group to recommend further policy changes to the Board.

2014

After discussion with industry experts and peer institutions, the task group made a number of recommendations outlining options for incorporating ESG factors in the investment process. The UBC Board of Governors approved the policy on April 14, 2014.

2017

The Sustainable Future Pool (SFP) was established in 2017 as first step to understand the financial impact enhanced ESG measures (“Environmental, Social, Governance” – the reduction or exclusion of companies that own fossil fuels and a focus on reduced carbon emissions) would have on the Endowment’s performance. SFP is an endowment pool (group) within the UBC Endowment that is managed separately from the Main Endowment Pool.

The SFP was established to test, validate and research, investment strategies that specifically target lower carbon emissions and minimal (or no) fossil fuel holdings without materially negatively impacting the Endowment’s financial performance.

With the continued progress in implementing a comprehensive responsible investing framework, and in particular the commitment of UBC towards divesting the Endowment, UBC is moving to incorporate the learnings of the SFP into the entire Endowment. With this transition, the Sustainable Future Pool will become part of the Main Endowment Pool and cease to exist.

2019

In 2019 UBC joined a growing list of schools, communities, and countries around the world in declaring a climate emergency and committed to divesting the UBC’s Endowment.

UBC directed UBC Investment Management Trust Inc. (UBC IMANT) to develop and adopt an investment approach that builds on existing responsible investing practices, further addresses climate risk, and helps to drive positive social change.

2020

In April, 2020, UBC’s Board of Governors passed a motion that committed UBC to become a global leader in its comprehensive response to the climate emergency. In so doing, the university reaffirmed its approach to divestment, aiming to reduce climate change-related financial risk in its Endowment through the continued application of ESG (environmental, social and governance) investment practices, signing on to the UN Principles of Responsible Investing, and the reduction of carbon emissions and stranded fossil fuel assets.

During the second half of 2020, UBC’s Board of Governors endorsed UBC IMANT’s comprehensive Responsible Investing Strategic Plan.

The Responsible Investing Strategy includes strengthening UBC’s advocacy and leadership in responsible investing practices. In July 2020, UBC became a UN Principles of Responsible Investing signatory and a founding signatory of Investing to Address Climate Change: A Charter for Canadian Universities. In September 2020, UBC established an ambitious goal of reducing carbon emissions connected to the university’s Endowment portfolio by 45% by 2030.

As part of the effort to meet this goal, UBC IMANT committed to reducing the university’s carbon footprint by increasing investment in a low carbon, fossil-fuel-free mandate by $34 million by December 2020. UBC and UBC IMANT are pleased to report that this milestone has been achieved.

In addition, an important commitment of the Responsible Investing Strategy was to provide enhanced transparency about the university’s Endowment portfolio holdings. As such, UBC IMANT has made the Endowment public equities holdings available on the UBC IMANT website and will update the information annually.

2021

UBC and UBC IMANT will continue to demonstrate leadership among universities and endowments as our responsible investing journey continues. Progress planned for 2021 includes transferring further funds to lower emission funds, establishing an active ownership policy, and incorporating climate risk analysis into an asset mix study.