UBC Moves Forward with Divestment Plus

On April 16, the Board of Governors passed a motion that committed UBC to become a global leader in our comprehensive response to the climate emergency. In so doing, the university reaffirmed its approach to divestment, aiming to reduce climate change-related financial risk in its endowment through the continued application of ESG (environmental, social and governance) investment practices, signing on to the UN Principles of Responsible Investing, and the reduction of carbon emissions and stranded fossil fuel assets.

The motion builds on steps already taken to move towards divestment, affirming the university’s ability to divest while maintaining its fiduciary responsibilities. It follows a legal opinion released in February and new financial analysis that has determined that divestment is possible and should be done as part of an integrated overall approach in responsible investing. This will create a pathway to full divestment of the university’s main endowment in a manner consistent with the fiduciary obligations of the Board of Governors.

With this in mind, the university, through UBC IMANT who oversee the UBC endowment, are now in the process of finalizing an overall strategy called Divestment Plus. UBC’s goal is responsible investing that transitions towards divestment of fossil fuel intensive assets while simultaneously tackling the issue of responsible investing more broadly by increasing its ability to influence corporate behaviour through UBC IMANT. By taking this approach the university will be able to assess broader environmental, social, and governance issues present in its portfolio companies, and work to become an active investor that influences outcomes.

So far, as part of this broader overall strategy, UBC IMANT has undertaken a number of immediate and near-term actions to make real progress on UBC’s commitment to divestment. Some of these actions include:

  • Investigating data sources and developing methodologies to measure investment portfolio emissions. This will allow UBC IMANT to make data-driven decisions that will actually help achieve the goals of a divestment strategy — most notably reducing global emissions.
  • Working with UNPRI and other leading responsible investing institutional investors to apply the best practices in divestment and other strategies to mitigate climate risk in the portfolio.
  • Continuing to expand our external manager outreach to develop a broader network of potential managers who can help execute our divestment plus strategy.

In the coming months, UBC IMANT will go through a detailed analysis on each asset class to find the best approach to implement our divestment plus strategy in each asset class. It will also be engaging and collaborating with like-minded investors and organizations in order to leverage its influence to drive positive change.