Historic Investment Move for University of Cambridge
Yesterday the principal executive and policy-making body of the University of Cambridge officially endorsed a collaborative move toward environmentally and socially responsible investment of their estimated £2.4-billion endowment fund. Cambridge has commissioned a thorough and unique review that will take a broad look at how to maximise the positive impact of its investments. This decision comes six months before the UN Climate Change Conference will take place in Paris, where world leaders will come together to formulate a universal and binding agreement on climate change mitigation.
The University of Cambridge, which manages the largest university endowment in Europe, is the first such institution to open this sort of broad discussion about responsible investment to intellectual scrutiny — a move that came about through collaboration among students, academics and administrators. Yesterday it officially formed a working group with the mandate to investigate a range of specific responsible investment options for the university, and the costs and benefits associated with each.
Ms Ellen Quigley, a Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Officer for the Cambridge University Students’ Union and spokesperson for Positive Investment Cambridge (PIC), said that this is an exciting development at a time in which the fossil fuel divestment movement is gaining traction but remains just one of many tools for aligning an institution’s investments with its values.
“We look forward to working collaboratively with the University administration to investigate all options for environmentally and socially responsible investment of our endowment, including everything from energy efficiency financing to coordinated shareholder engagement to divestment,” Ms Quigley said.
“There’s no question that the outcomes from this project could carry great weight among other large institutional investors. This is a detailed, year-long study of responsible investment undertaken by some of the world’s finest minds – we are delighted.”
“This is a courageous step, unique among institutions wrestling with this issue. The University has shown us great respect and is working with us to develop an evidence-based and morally sound investment policy that will serve the needs of future generations and guide future decision-making,” she said.
Motions in support of the working group’s investigation have been passed by 25 Junior and Middle Common Rooms at Cambridge.
The University of Cambridge positive investment campaign, a collaboration between CUSU SRI officers and PIC, which is a group made up of students, academics and staff at the University, has been working on this issue for four years. It has solicited investment information from each of the University’s 31 constituent colleges.
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