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Trent University Board of Governors Approves Policy Statement and Appoints Managers for Socially Responsible Investment Fund

October 13, 2015

Board points to student voice and consultative process as key to reaching SRI milestones

In alignment with Trent’s commitment to environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices, Trent University’s Board of Governors approved a new socially responsible investment fund (SRI) policy statement and announced the appointment of NEI Investments (through Desjardins Financial) as managers of the new socially-responsible investment component of Trent’s endowment fund.

These are considered key steps in moving forward with the SRI fund approved by the Board in May 2015, following extensive research, dialogue and engagement with the Trent community, stakeholders and donors on how the University can best continue its important role as an active solution provider on environmental and sustainability issues. The endowment fund has been modelled upon the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investing (UNPRI).

“The approval of the policy and appointment of NEI Investment speak to the Board’s commitment to moving forward on SRI investment fund,” said Bryan Davies, chair of the Board of Governors. “It acknowledges the University’s significant contribution as an active contributor on issues of sustainability and recognizes that some donors would like to see their endowed funds directed toward a socially responsible investment.”

“It is important to highlight the role Trent students have played in the evolution of the University’s approach to socially-responsible investment practices,” said Dr. Leo Groarke, president and vice-chancellor. “Through a well-organized and reasoned approach to dialogue on the complex investment issues, our students encouraged Board engagement and helped to spark the policy and process we see in place today. That is something of which we can all be proud at Trent.”

NEW POLICY GUIDES SRI INVESTMENT DECISIONS

Consistent with the University’s commitment to be actively engaged in contributing to climate change abatement and environmental sustainability, and in response to select donor interest in socially responsible investment options, the newly approved policy http://www.trentu.ca/administration/pdfs/SpecialResolutionii13.pdf provides guidance to the investment decisions.

Highlights of the SRI fund policy include:

  • fund available for designation by donors
  • Incorporating ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes
  • Being active owners and incorporating ESG issues ownership policies and practices
  • Seeking appropriate disclosure on ESG issues by the entities in which the University invests
  • Promoting acceptance and implementation of the Principles within the investment industry
  • Reporting on activities and progress towards implementing the Principles
  • Committing to explicit performance reviews, in addition to regular quarterly reviews, comparing risk profile and returns of the passive portfolio and that of the special SRI fund

“This new Policy effectively outlines the University’s approach to incorporating socially responsible investment practices into its investment decisions,” said Sue Graham Parker, chair of the Investment and Pension Committee of the Board of Governors. “The appointment of NEI as managers for the SRI fund is a reflection of the Board’s commitment to active engagement on issues of sustainability and the strength of NEI’s level of engagement on ESG-SRI capabilities.”

NEI INVESTMENT A RECOGNIZED EXPERT ON ESG-SRI PRINCIPLES

Following a review of a short-list of candidates, NEI Investments was selected based on the recommendation of the Investment and Pension Committee. In making its recommendation, the committee noted NEI’s commitment to engagement, overall comparative manager ranking, and robust ESG-SRI capabilities, including screening, research and analysis. NEI’s commitment to ESG-SRI principles also includes a focus on issues and initiatives where it is most able to effect change, including engagement with energy companies who demonstrate proactive adoption of practices to reduce their environmental footprint.

The new ESG-SRI endowment fund, comprising the NEI Ethical Canadian Equity, Global Equity, and Income Funds, is guided by UNPRI and furthers Trent’s commitment to active engagement on issues of sustainability, while providing donors with socially responsible investment options.