McMaster signs the United Nation’s Principles for Responsible Investment

A path leads through tall, green trees at McMaster University

McMaster is taking important new steps toward strengthening its commitment to climate change, with transparent measurement, carbon reduction goals, and reporting.

McMaster has now signed on to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investments (UN-PRI), a set of responsible investment practices that are aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. These goals call for global action on pressing issues such as poverty, inequality and climate change, among others.

On climate change, McMaster is committing to a 45% carbon reduction of the public equities within the investment pool by 2030. In addition, McMaster is committed to improving transparency, measurements and reporting associated with carbon and other sustainability issues including land, water, air, equality, diversity, and governance. McMaster aspires to achieve a carbon neutral investment pool by 2050 for public equities investments.

“Advancing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is an important area of focus for the University,” says McMaster President, David Farrar. “Our ambitious and proactive commitment to sustainable investing is another way in which we are seeking to support these goals and make a difference, on our campus, in our community, and globally.”

UN-PRI principles and practices include:

  • Incorporating Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes
  • Being an active owner and incorporating ESG issues into ownership policies and practices
  • Seeking appropriate disclosure on ESG issues by the entities in which McMaster invests
  • Promoting acceptance and implementation of the principles within the investment industry
  • Working with the PRI Secretariate and other signatories to enhance their effectiveness in implementing the principles
  • Reporting on activities and progress towards implementing the principles

These commitments are the latest in a series of responsible investment measures recently implemented at McMaster – measures that are already yielding positive results.

Between 2018-2019, carbon in McMaster’s investment pool declined by 9%, and the weighted average carbon intensity declined by 23% over the same period.

“We have worked aggressively to put in place a host of initiatives that have enabled McMaster to respond to the critical issue of climate change across our invested assets,” says Deidre (Dee) Henne, AVP (Administration) & Chief Financial Officer. “Not only are we now seeing the positive impact of these changes, we are now in a strong position to set and achieve meaningful carbon reduction targets going forward.”

A number of measures have contributed to McMaster’s progress in this area. In June, the university co-signed a charter with other leading Canadian universities, pledging to work together on climate change initiatives across invested assets.

McMaster has also integrated ESG factors into all of its policies and procedures and has already integrated the UN-PRI into its Investment Pool policy.

As well, McMaster is the first Canadian university to be an early voluntary adopter of the Task Force Recommendations for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TFCD) across all invested asset portfolios. The disclosures will be included in the annual financial reports.

“Together, these actions have been critical to to driving McMaster’s carbon reduction strategy,” says Roger Couldrey, Vice-President (Administration). “These, combined with accountability measures such as linking the CFO and Treasurer’s performance appraisal to UN-PRI ratings, will ensure that we continue to make progress on carbon reduction, while supporting McMaster’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

Earlier this year, McMaster ranked 17th in the world in the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings, which is based on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In December, the university ranked third in Canada in the Universitas Indonesia’s GreenMetric World University Rankings, which measure participants’ commitment in developing environmentally friendly infrastructure.