0

Q&A with Jameela Pedicini

first_imgJameela Pedicini is Harvard Management Company’s first vice president for sustainable investing. Working closely with Harvard President Drew Faust and President and CEO of HMC Jane Mendillo, Pedicini was instrumental in the University’s recent decision to sign the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). She spoke with the Gazette about her charge to help the University think in more nuanced ways about environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in investing.  GAZETTE: You joined HMC at the end of August as the subject matter expert in ESG and sustainable investing issues. How have you spent the intervening months?PEDICINI: My focus in the last eight months has been on getting my head around and learning about the portfolio. I have been working with the team here at HMC as well as with the University, specifically the Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility, and I have also been meeting with students and faculty and staff to understand how the wider Harvard community thinks about sustainable investing.GAZETTE: What does that mean — getting your head around the portfolio?PEDICINI: Allow me to take a step back: We define sustainable investing as the integration of material environmental and social and governance factors into investment practices. It’s about doing good business — which is directly aligned with our mission to provide strong long-term investment results to the University. And so over the last eight months, I’ve been looking at the portfolio to understand what ESG risks our investment professionals are already factoring into their investment practices. For example, in our due diligence process, we’re already asking questions around health and safety issues and employment practices. So, it’s about understanding what we’re already doing as it relates to ESG, and then thinking about how we can improve our processes over the coming months and years.What is really important to understand is that we’re taking a considered approach to integrating ESG factors across asset classes so that we can enhance our ability to evaluate how these issues may impact the valuation of our investments and performance. I’m working to understand how we already assess ESG risks and then helping to identify ways to enhance our approach to evaluating ESG issues. It’s about collaborating with the investment professionals as well as with the University more broadly on these issues.GAZETTE: You’ve worked in this area for several years, but you have a fairly fresh perspective on Harvard’s approach to these issues. Where does the institution stand relative to its peers when it comes to engaging on ESG and related issues?PEDICINI: Jane Mendillo and President Faust have taken a leadership role in this area. The endowment space has not been an obvious leader of sustainable investment. But Harvard specifically, with its commitment from the top, I would say, is at the forefront of endowment management when it comes to looking at these issues.GAZETTE: Jane Mendillo has often said that, as a long-term investor, HMC is always focused on sustainability. What does she mean by that?PEDICINI: Good question. ESG risks can have a direct and indirect impact on a company’s performance. So, for instance, they can have a direct impact on a company’s profitability through increased regulation that can then lead to increased operating costs. Or ESG risks can indirectly impact a company’s long-term performance, such as its ability to attract talent and retain customer loyalty. For HMC, it’s about both managing the short-term ESG risks as well as having a thorough understanding as to how ESG issues may impact our performance over the medium and long term.GAZETTE: A lot of the work that you did in recent months resulted in Harvard University becoming a signatory to UN-supported PRI. What’s the significance of that step?PEDICINI: We’re the first U.S. endowment to become a signatory to Principles for Responsible Investment, so this is a major step within HMC, but this is also a big step within the endowment space more broadly. It entails formalizing our approach to sustainable investment and using the six principles as a guiding framework, which are about integrating ESG factors across each asset class. It entails incorporating ESG factors into our ownership policies and practices, seeking further disclosure from companies, and integrating ESG factors into our investment analysis. And, as a signatory to the PRI, we will be publicly reporting on how we are implementing the six principles in our investment practices.GAZETTE: Joining the PRI prompted some people to ask whether the University would reconsider its stance on divestment from holdings related to fossil fuels. Are those two things in some way related?PEDICINI: No, they’re not. I think it’s important in defining sustainable investment to also define what it’s not: We are not signaling in any way, by becoming a signatory to the PRI, that we are inclined to divest from a certain set of companies or a certain sector as a whole. Instead, we’re integrating ESG factors into our investment policies and practices so that we can be more informed investors. We’re looking out over the long term to ensure that we have the right information about these emerging risks, and also opportunities, so that we can make more informed decisions. In short, we’re enhancing our investment decision-making process.GAZETTE: All right. At the same time HMC joined what used to be known as the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). How do those two things work together?PEDICINI: The Principles for Responsible Investment pertain to our investment process and practices internally; the CDP pertains to what information portfolio companies publicly disclose regarding climate change risks and opportunities. As an investor, we need reliable information about how companies are managing ESG issues. And the CDP works with investors — institutional investors, primarily — to request from public companies how they account for, and disclose information regarding, greenhouse gas emissions, as well as energy use and carbon risks associated with their business activities.GAZETTE: In recent months, there have been questions about a few properties owned or operated by HMC. I’m thinking particularly about timber operations in Argentina. Have you looked into some of those questions?PEDICINI: I was actually just in Argentina at the end of March, and I did an extensive due diligence trip with our natural resources team. I viewed all of our properties firsthand and had the opportunity to work with our team down there. Within the forestry industry in Argentina, they’re definitely leading the way by adhering to international standards on labor standards, health, and safety, as well as engaging with the local community. They’re doing a terrific job.Our natural resources portfolio has been a real value-add to the endowment, and HMC takes the proper stewardship of its properties very seriously. In natural resources, our approach focuses on ensuring that our properties are managed in such a way that they meet the standards necessary to achieve certification by an independent third-party organization. We do this through the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which is an organization that oversees an extremely rigorous certification process. It includes an annual third-party audit evaluation to ensure that we are actually adhering to the FSC principles, and it promotes a process of continuous improvement by identifying risks and recommending changes.GAZETTE: With PRI, CDP, and reviewing individual properties abroad, it seems like there’s been quite a bit of activity in a relatively few months. Generally speaking, how would you characterize HMC’s approach to sustainable investing?PEDICINI: It’s about ESG integration. So, going back to my earlier point, we’re not limiting our investment opportunity. We’re actually enhancing our ability to make good investment decisions — now and in the future.last_img read more

0

Op-Ed: How Is Trump Failing to Put America First? Let Us Count the Ways

first_imgOp-Ed: How Is Trump Failing to Put America First? Let Us Count the Ways FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享San Diego Union Tribune:Now that President Donald Trump has enfeebled the Environmental Protection Agency, reversed climate regulations opposed by fossil fuel interests and announced U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, it is right to examine whether his agenda on climate change really puts “America first,” which he so often proclaims is his overriding goal. In four critical areas, it does not.Our public health: The Trump agenda apparently disregards that the burning of fossil fuels spews volumes of gases and particulates into the air that are toxic to human health. Numerous studies show that the most severe effects include acute and chronic bronchitis, asthma attacks, lead and heavy metals poisoning, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, heart attacks and premature death, with those most vulnerable to these ills being the elderly and our children.Moreover, pollution from the burning of fossil fuels costs billions of dollars in health care costs that are “hidden” in that they are not reflected in the market price for these fuels. These “hidden” costs include lost work days, increased emergency room visits and hospitalizations, increased insurance premiums and the overall growth in our national health care costs. In a 2009 report requested by Congress, the National Academy of Sciences estimated that in 2005 alone these costs were more than $120 billion.Our economy: Although President Trump proclaims he will bring back jobs by cutting environmental regulations, the evidence shows that new clean-energy technologies and the industries formed around them create far more jobs than are lost in the transition from burning fossil fuels.According to a 2015 report by the Environmental Defense Fund, based upon Department of Energy data, clean energy jobs already outnumbered those in fossil fuel by more than 2.5 to 1 and were growing at a rate 12 times faster than the rest of the U.S. economy. In a 2017 report, the Department of Energy predicts that energy-efficient employment will grow at the rate of 9 percent in the next 12 months, faster than any other energy sector.Our national security: Trump’s agenda also ignores a stark warning from the Department of Defense contained in a 2015 report requested by Congress, “National Security Implications of Climate-Related Risks and a Changing Climate.”The report goes straight to the heart of the matter: “DoD recognizes the reality of climate change and the significant risk it poses to U.S. interests globally. The National Security Strategy, issued in February 2015, is clear that climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources such as food and water. These impacts are already occurring, and the scope, scale, and intensity of these impacts are projected to increase over time.”Our global leadership: President Trump has announced that the U.S., the world’s largest polluter after China, will withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate accord, an international agreement, signed by the United States with 196 other countries, which commits the world community to a concerted effort in combating climate change. Our withdrawal would leave the U.S. isolated as one of a tiny handful of nations in the world that is not a member the pact.China, however, has signed the agreement and sees climate action as a way to fill the leadership vacuum left by the U.S., announcing plans to invest more than $360 billion in renewable energy by the end of this decade. Moreover, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, China is accelerating its foreign investments in renewable technologies and related equipment, a growing international market in which China may soon become the dominant player.Our announced withdrawal from the Paris agreement amounts to abdication of leadership in the global effort to combat climate change, at our cost and to China’s benefit.Let it therefore be said that President Trump’s agenda on climate change not only fails to put “America first” by ignoring the hard facts, it also puts in jeopardy our critical interests as a nation both at home and in the global arena.How Trump is failing to put America firstlast_img read more

0

NBA walkout sparks historic US sport boycott over police shooting

first_img“Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we’ve seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting of protestors,” the Bucks players said in a statement explaining their boycott.”Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.”The Bucks’ no-show prompted the NBA to scrap two other games scheduled for Wednesday: Houston’s clash with Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers’ matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers.At an emergency meeting of NBA teams in Florida late Wednesday, the crisis threatened to put the entire season in jeopardy, with LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers both voting to abandon the season. All other teams voted to continue. Topics : It was not immediately clear whether the Lakers and Clippers would continue the season as scheduled. A walkout by two of the NBA’s strongest teams and title contenders — as well as its biggest star — would deal a devastating blow to the credibility of the season. The NBA’s Board of Governors is meeting on Thursday to address player concerns. Dramatic escalation The NBA postponements marked a dramatic escalation in the league’s calls for social justice, which have reverberated across the sport in the months since the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May.Lakers superstar James voiced solidarity with the Bucks decision in a tweet shortly after the boycott was announced. “WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT,” James wrote.The NBA’s players union also backed the protest. “The players have, once again, made it clear — they will not be silent on this issue,” National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts said in a statement.Renewed anger had swept the NBA after Sunday’s shooting of Blake.The 29-year-old was shot repeatedly in the back as he attempted to get into his car, which contained his three children.Protests have erupted in Kenosha since the shooting, with two people killed after a teenager opened fire on demonstrators with an assault rifle on Tuesday. Boycotts spread The boycotts spread to other sports, with the Milwaukee Brewers’ game against the Cincinnati Reds becoming one of several Major League Baseball games to be postponed.In tennis, two-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka abruptly announced her withdrawal from the WTA Western & Southern Open semi-finals, where she was due to play on Thursday.”As a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis,” Osaka said.In a statement released late Wednesday, ATP/WTA organizers said all play scheduled for Thursday had been postponed in recognition of the fight against racial inequality.Elsewhere, the Women’s NBA postponed its scheduled fixtures for Wednesday, while Major League Soccer also called off five of six games. ‘Horrifying, maddening’ The NBA’s coronavirus-halted season resumed last month in Orlando against the backdrop of nationwide protests following Floyd’s death.NBA teams have knelt in protest during the pre-match playing of the US national anthem, while the words “Black Lives Matter” have been painted onto each court staging games in Florida.Players, many of whom took part in protests against Floyd’s killing, have been allowed to wear jerseys bearing social justice messages.The first hints of boycotts over Blake’s shooting came from Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse, who revealed that his players had discussed refusing to play their game with Boston on Thursday.Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens described Blake’s shooting as “horrifying.””Our thoughts are with Jacob Blake and his family and obviously that video was horrifying, awful,” Stevens said. “To think of three kids being in that car, it’s ridiculous.”These are hard times. With the pandemic going on, with this constant wave of inequality — it’s maddening.”The Los Angeles Clippers African-American coach Doc Rivers contrasted the latest shooting with the apocalyptic rhetoric at this week’s Republican Party convention.”All you hear is Donald Trump and all of them talking about fear,” Rivers said in remarks on Tuesday.”We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. We’re the ones that are denied to live in certain communities.”We’ve been hung, we’ve been shot. All you do is keep hearing about fear. It’s amazing to me why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back.” The Milwaukee Bucks led a historic sporting boycott Wednesday over the US police shooting of a black man, forcing the NBA to halt its playoff schedule and prompting a wave of walkouts across multiple sports.The NBA postponed its entire slate of Wednesday fixtures after the Bucks refused to play game five of their Eastern Conference first-round series against the Orlando Magic in protest over the shooting of African-American man Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday.Blake was seriously injured after being shot point blank in the back seven times by police officers in a confrontation captured on video.last_img read more