A key question which will need to be addressed in light of assessing investment policies is “what is ‘climate neutrality’ in the sense of investments?”
Beyond climate-related issues, the revision of the investment portfolio could and should also open spaces for discussing broader themes of social, environmental and governance issues. As an institutional investor, UAntwerp can and should play an active role herein.
The state of the investment portfolio was not part of the zero measurement conducted for this Climate Action Strategy. The sustainability criteria have so far mainly been informed by the Norwegian Pension Fund Exclusion Criteria. As a broad outline of what a climate-proof functioning in this domain entails, we would like to refer to the sustainable finance framework that outlines a three-tiered structure for investment principles:
- Active divestment from controversial activities and fossil fuels and investments according to best-in-class selection based on carbon footprint across all sectors.
- Active investment in renewable energy, energy storage and energy reductions.
- A set-aside portfolio for direct investment in the University’s own sustainable projects and/or other direct impact investing.
To set up an officialized mode of collaboration between the working group and the relevant commissions and decision-makers at the central administration level to determine what type of constellation can reflect on the goals and process of and how they are included in the official investment principles.
Priority action points
- Key activities, to be done together with relevant stakeholders – and possible with support of specialised organizations such as Fairfin and Ethibel.
- Define investment criteria.
- Check with the current asset managers and banks to which extent the current portfolio abides to these rules.
- Set up a new SIP (statement of investment principles) with banks and asset managers.
An important obstacle for assessing the current situation and for defining future goals is precisely the formulation of the goal; and how to achieve it through financial investments? How do you take into account extra-financial concerns in your investment portfolio? Is it primarily with a focus on withdrawing investment from fossil fuels, or also broader such as deforestation or greenhouse gas emissions and polluting industries?