New initiative to help Canadian universities face a $41 billion challenge: Coalition of Universities for Responsible Investing (CURI)
Vancouver, BC – Canadian universities need to address risks affecting over $41 billion in pension funds and endowment investments, say founders of the newly formed Coalition of Universities for Responsible Investing (CURI).
"We are lagging far behind our American counterparts when it comes to incorporating environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) risks into investment strategies, "said Omar Dominguez, CURI chair and co-founder. "If ignored, these risks do more than harm a university's reputation. They endanger the growth of their endowments and pension funds," says Dominguez.
The financial crisis that devastated markets in 2008 was a wake-up call to many university investment managers. The total value of US universities' endowments fell by nearly a quarter between July 1 and November 30, 2008 – a decline of about $94.5 billion in assets. "It is now widely understood how, in the months leading to the crisis of 2008, poor corporate governance practices such as the securitization of toxic sub-prime mortgages exposed the entire financial system to excessive risk. Conventional investing strategies were not able to identify and mitigate those risks," said Dominguez. As a response, several American universities ramped up efforts to implement responsible investing (RI) policies. Now, more than 40 universities in the US have established RI advisory groups, while only the University of Toronto has followed suit among Canadian universities.
Responsible investing provides a bridge between ethical concerns and financial performance. For years, university communities have used activism and antagonistic campaigns to influence their schools' investment practices. But by inviting their stakeholders along with RI professionals to the board room, universities can avoid the rancour of divestment campaigns and protect the long-term performance of their investments. RI also furthers universities' educational mandates by nurturing a constructive dialogue about complex investment issues.
In partnership with the Social Investment Organization (SIO), Canada's national association for socially responsible investment, CURI will hold its first national symposium on June 21 in Victoria, BC. "CURI is a much-needed force for change among Canadian universities. The SIO is pleased to partner with CURI in its first symposium to be held in conjunction with the Canadian Responsible Investment Conference" said Eugene Ellmen, the SIO Executive Director.
Both CURI and the SIO invite university trustees, academics, student representatives and industry experts to participate in the symposium and contribute to the development of responsible investment at universities across Canada.
For more information and interviews contact:
Chair and co-founder
Coalition of Universities for Responsible Investing
Social Investment Organization
T. 416-461-6042 ext. 111
About the Coalition of Universities for Responsible Investing
The Coalition of Universities for Responsible Investment (CURI) is an initiative to promote responsible investment (RI) as a prudent investment strategy among university trustees, and to provide university communities with the resources they need to encourage their institutions to adopt sustainable investment practices. CURI facilitates dialogue and collaboration between Canadian universities, the RI industry and international investment networks. CURI also supports curriculum development and expertise in the field of RI. www.curi.ca
About the Social Investment Organization
The Social Investment Organization is the national association for socially responsible investment in Canada. Its members include fund companies, asset management firms, consultants, advisors and investors committed to socially responsible investment. www.socialinvestment.ca