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SFU’s responsible investment picks up speed in 2022

March 03, 2022

Simon Fraser University is moving full speed ahead in 2022 on its landmark responsible investment commitments.

Since announcing the university’s commitment to full divestment last fall, SFU’s Global equity portfolio, valued at $450 million as of December 2021, is 100 per cent fossil fuel free. The university has already achieved its 2025 target to cut the carbon footprint of the investment portfolio by 45 per cent from 2016’s baseline.

SFU’s Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) funds were also increased by 30 million to $53 million in December. This accounts for eight per cent of the endowment and makes SFU’s allocation to SRI funds among the highest in Canadian universities. SFU plans to further its commitment by increasing SRI funds allocation to 10 per cent of the endowment by the end of 2022.

“Responsible investment has been a priority for the university since 2014 but with the SFU Board’s recent declaration of a climate emergency and new climate action commitments, we re-doubled our efforts to accelerate our ambitious plans,” says Alison Blair, associate vice-president, finance. “We’ve taken the momentum generated last fall and have been busy putting the foundation in place to ensure we can meet targets that will benefit the university, its students and create a more sustainable world for future generations.”

SFU’s two student managed funds (Student Investment Advisory Service Fund and Beedie Endowment Asset Management Fund), the largest student managed funds in Canada at a combined $34 million, have now committed to be fossil fuel free by the end of 2022.

And SFU’s Treasury department continues to make progress to achieve the target of full divestment in all of its endowed and non-endowed funds by 2025.

Following the SFU Board’s formal recognition of the climate emergency last fall, the Responsible Investment Committee of the Board – which was responsible for helping guide SFU’s investment portfolio’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) integration– was converted into the new Climate Action and Sustainability Committee. The expanded role of this committee will provide oversight and direction to the university’s sustainability initiatives, including climate action and responsible investment, rather than focusing solely on responsible investment strategies. 

While much of this progress was already underway, it has been driven by many students, faculty, and staff at SFU that care deeply about this issue, and who continue to raise questions and opportunities with the institution. The university would like to acknowledge and thank these individuals, student groups, and SFU350, for advocating for responsible investment and divestment over the past eight years.

“SFU350 is proud to see fossil fuel divestment gain momentum after years of student advocacy - but we’re not stopping here. We look forward to working with students, faculty, and staff at SFU to reinvest in local communities and climate change solutions,” says SFU 350 student member Brennan Strandberg-Salmon.

Along with joining the United Nations-backed Race to Zero global campaign and committing to achieving net zero carbon emissions before 2050, SFU launched a Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) website to track progress and share how the institution is advancing in these areas. The UN’s SDGs are the world’s call-to-action to end poverty, to protect the planet and to leave no one behind. Universities have an important role to play in achieving these goals through leadership, knowledge generation, education, campus operations and public engagement.