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Session #1

Laying the Groundwork / Poser le mot de passe

Speakers Dr. Dianne Saxe, Sarah Couturier-Tanoh and Fr. Peter Bisson, SJ opened the forum with clear goals to achieve an integral economy, an Economy of Francesco. 

Dianne reminded us of the urgency to act now to secure a safe future for ourselves and our children.  She outlined the clear connections between rising GHG emissions and the money driving rising emissions. And she laid down a clear challenge, “In the Catholic Church, write to your Bishop and ask for a meeting to talk about these things.”

… Only when ‘the economic and social costs of using up shared environmental resources are recognized with transparency and fully borne by those who incur them, not by other peoples or future generations’, can those actions be considered ethical.” Pope Francis, ¶195 Laudato Si’ and Pope Benedict XVI Caritas in Veritate, ¶50

Sarah outlined several avenues to pursue to make our investments reflect our values. A combination of shareholder engagement, working together in networks of like-minded investors, impact investment and positive and negative screens, along with public advocacy with government policy makers, all used together will have the greatest impact. She pointed out that investors should look at not only a company’s performance in reducing the GHG emissions, but their efforts through lobbying governments to weaken or delay policies that will bring us closer to achieving our Paris climate commitments.

“Achieving net zero will require a whole economy transition—every company, every bank, every insurer and investor will have to adjust their business models. This could turn an existential risk into the greatest commercial opportunity of our time.”  Mark Carney

Fr. Peter Bisson relayed the investment experiences of the Jesuits in Canada.  His closing remark was Divestment and reinvestment with ESG criteria is a risk, but our experience shows it is worth the risk. Don’t be afraid!”

To further investigate the topics discussed view a list of resources here.

 

Session #2

Shareholder Engagement / L’engagement des actionnaires

Speakers Mamadou-Lamine Beye, Jonathon Smith and Anthony Schein brought varying perspectives on how shareholder engagement works.

“As experts in finance and economics, you know well that trust, born of the interconnectedness between people, is the cornerstone of all relationships, including financial relationships. Those relationships can only be built up through the development of a “culture of encounter” in which every voice can be heard and all can thrive, finding points of contact, building bridges, and envisioning long-term inclusive projects.” (Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, 216)

From his office in Dakar-Yoff, Sénégal, Mamadou-Lamine Beye, spoke to us about the basic principles of shareholder engagement. He explained the wide range of risks that a company will face due to climate change, from physical damage to infrastructure, illness and injury to employees, government regulatory changes, a quickly changing global economy, reputational damage and litigation if risks are not managed properly. All sectors are impacted by climate change in varying degrees. He enlightened us that there are complicated and far-reaching implications to a large systemic shift in global energy use. While many large fossil fuels extraction companies do not look like they are interested in a shift in their business model, there are certainly companies out there that are making a concerted effort to change, and these should not be summarily discounted along with the other players.

Jonathan Smith discussed how companies are rated for ESG factors, (environmental, social and governance), and what investors can do with that knowledge. Jonathan brought his perspective on future ESG trends in the fossil fuels sector, what to watch for and expect in the next ten years.  When discussing fossil fuel industry exposure to risk he explained how some companies are making an effort to improve their public image, without making any real change to their practices, and some are acting contrary to their stated carbon emission reduction goals by supporting the work of lobbyists who pressure governments to reduce or remove carbon reduction policies. Jonathan pointed out that changes in government policies, especially in America, will undoubtedly impact Canadian businesses.

Anthony Schein outlined services provided to small, medium and institutional investors by the staff at SHARE, Shareholder Association for Research and Education.  He talked about the power of building change from within a business using proxy audit tools. By building of partnerships of like-minded shareholders around key concerns, these partnerships can exercise a stronger influence on companies where they hold shares in common. He introduced us to several such partnerships facilitated by SHARE; the University Network for Investor Engagement and the Responsible Reconciliation Investment Initiative with Indigenous partners.

A lively question period revealed more important insights.

To further investigate the topics discussed view a list of resources here.

 

Session #3

Indigenous and Impact Investment / Investissement Autochtone et d’impact

This very inspiring session featured panelists Stephen Whipp who assists the Glasswaters Foundation with their investments, Mark Sevestre from the National Aboriginal Trust Officers Association (NATOA) and the Reconciliation and Responsible Investment Initiative (RRII), and Stephen Nairne from RAVEN Indigenous Capital Partners. They introduced us to exciting investment opportunities with Indigenous entrepreneurs.

“The businesses, national or international, which harm the Amazon and fail to respect the right of the original peoples to the land and its boundaries, and to self-determination and prior consent, should be called for what they are: unjust and criminal … We cannot allow globalization to become “a new version of colonialism”.  (Pope Francis, Querida Amazonia,14)

Stephen Whipp began the conversation with a reflection on his motivation and eagerness to work with Indigenous entrepreneurs. He appreciates opportunities to “give a hand up, rather than a hand out”. In working with clients like the Glasswaters Foundation, Stephen suggests investors create an investment policy that articulates what they want to world to look like in the future and use that to determine their asset screens. He expressed his feeling of enrichment in listening to the stories of Indigenous partners, and assisting their dreams in their communities.

Mark Sevestre helped us understand the changed atmosphere in which business relationships are developing with Indigenous communities.  He said “We are looking to be partners in economic development not just social recipients and I think that is a huge change from the view that colonialism has traditionally provided in our communities.” He suggested that in Canada investors should include the letter “I” for Indigenous when considering ESGs, by looking at how companies respond to recommendation #92 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action. How do they implement a framework of consultation with Indigenous communities?

Stephen Nairne articulated the connection between the goals of RAVEN and the Catholic Eco-Investment Accelerator as follows: “the empowerment of Indigenous communities is vital to the restoration and guardianship of critical ecosystems.” To be successful as investors with Indigenous communities it must be understood that “progress moves at the speed of trust”, so RAVEN worked on decolonizing the whole investment process and tried early on to build cultural safety. This is a really exciting time to invest in a maturing investment space.

To further investigate the topics discussed view a list of resources here.

 

Session #4

Positive and Negative Asset Screens / Écrans d'actifs positifs et négatifs

The fourth session in the Catholic Eco-Investment Accelerator Virtual Forum, Positive and Negative Asset Screens, had a decidedly international flavour, as we heard from global players in the space of Catholic climate investing.

Ecological Economics, Laudato Si’ Action Goal #3, acknowledges that the economy is a sub-system of human society, which itself is embedded within the biosphere–our common home. Actions could include sustainable production and consumption, ethical investments, divestment from fossil fuels and any activity harmful to the planet and the people, supporting circular economies, prioritizing care labour and protecting the dignity of workers(Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development publication Laudato Si’ Special Anniversary Year, May 2020)

Bringing his expertise as pension engagement manager for Shift Action for Pension Wealth and Planet Health, a charitable project helping pension beneficiaries to engage constructively with their pensions on the climate crisis, Patrick DeRochie persuaded pension fund managers and beneficiaries to look closely at their asset holdings through a lens of climate change mitigation.

The forum welcomed Jason Dudek, former board chair for the Catherine Donnelly Foundation, who now contributes his extensive investment knowledge to the Catholic Impact Investment Collaborative, (CIIC).  Jason believes strongly in the intersection between environmental/social value and investment performance, and has become a recognized leader in Canada's Impact Investment space. His Jesuit influenced formative education shone through in his methodology for building networks of like-minded people to create mutual solutions.

Dr. Lorna Gold spoke from her experience as Acting Chair of the Board of Directors for Global Catholic Climate Movement. She is a leading voice on faith-consistent investing within the Catholic Church and supported the Irish Bishops' Conference to divest from fossil fuels in 2018 as a team member with Trócaire, Maynooth, Ireland. While with Trócaire she also authored Ethical Investments in an Era of Climate Change. Dr. Gold is a founding member of FaithInvest, UK.

 We explored trends in investment strategies that favour care of creation, methods of using financial assets to shift our economy toward a just transition from fossil fuel based energy, alternative definitions of investments and how those can be applied, and much more.

To further investigate the topics discussed view a list of resources here.


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