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Harvard Management Company - Getting to Net Zero

Investments, by their nature, have long been measured solely on their ability to generate a financial return with little regard for other considerations. But as human rights, international conflicts, and an accelerating climate crisis seep into every corner of the global economy, ESG factors and economic gain have grown inseparable.

“Fifteen years ago, if you were to ask somebody about ESG, it was really seen as a fringe movement. There were a few boutiques that had been developing practices in that area, but it hadn't yet gone mainstream,” says Michael Cappucci, managing director at Harvard Management Company (HMC). “It has now become a part of the mainstream investment conversation…It's not something that is just a niche product. It's something that we believe all thoughtful investors should be doing.”

HMC, which manages Harvard University's endowment, is leading by example in setting ambitious targets for the future.

In 2020, Harvard University was the first endowment to commit to manage their endowment to net zero by 2050. While they view this as an attainable benchmark, their broader goal is to have an impact on the real economy and not simply achieve an isolated accomplishment. HMC pursues this through collaboration and engagement.

“We've been working with a number of international organizations–like the UN PRI and SBTi–to develop standards and frameworks for measuring the impact of these portfolios.” By working with those developing the standards, HMC aims to make sure that the unique structure of endowment portfolios is taken into consideration, allowing peers to more easily follow suit.

However, as a firm that relies almost exclusively on external asset managers, HMC knows that they need help from their investment partners. Thankfully, Cappucci explains, they have found many willing partners.

“There's been so much focus on issues like climate change and social justice [in recent years] that it's really brought attention to the impact that the investment community can have. But, also, it's come from within as well. So there are leading people at all of the investment firms that care about these issues just as deeply,” he explains.

But investors can only carry the torch so far. There; the element of protecting longevity is becoming generationally more prominent, seen as a prerequisite younger investors look for when making financial decisions. “We joined the Climate Action 100 Plus in 2019, which is an initiative that engages directly with the 100 largest polluting companies in the world. But we're going to need more than that. So the governments across the world are going to have to step up and meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement.”

By seeking to apply pressure to governments to do their part, the company is baring its teeth at the entities that can make real change while doing what it can internally and with its partners.

By driving ESG aims at a time when they are becoming more intertwined with profit, Harvard Management Company upkeeps a high standard that other investors can get involved with and aspire to.

Investments, by their nature, have long been measured solely on their ability to generate a financial return with little regard for other considerations. But as human rights, international conflicts, and an accelerating climate crisis seep into every corner of the global economy, ESG factors and economic gain have grown inseparable.

“Fifteen years ago, if you were to ask somebody about ESG, it was really seen as a fringe movement. There were a few boutiques that had been developing practices in that area, but it hadn't yet gone mainstream,” says Michael Cappucci, managing director at Harvard Management Company (HMC). “It has now become a part of the mainstream investment conversation…It's not something that is just a niche product. It's something that we believe all thoughtful investors should be doing.”

HMC, which manages Harvard University's endowment, is leading by example in setting ambitious targets for the future.

In 2020, Harvard University was the first endowment to commit to manage their endowment to net zero by 2050. While they view this as an attainable benchmark, their broader goal is to have an impact on the real economy and not simply achieve an isolated accomplishment. HMC pursues this through collaboration and engagement.

“We've been working with a number of international organizations–like the UN PRI and SBTi–to develop standards and frameworks for measuring the impact of these portfolios.” By working with those developing the standards, HMC aims to make sure that the unique structure of endowment portfolios is taken into consideration, allowing peers to more easily follow suit.

However, as a firm that relies almost exclusively on external asset managers, HMC knows that they need help from their investment partners. Thankfully, Cappucci explains, they have found many willing partners.

“There's been so much focus on issues like climate change and social justice [in recent years] that it's really brought attention to the impact that the investment community can have. But, also, it's come from within as well. So there are leading people at all of the investment firms that care about these issues just as deeply,” he explains.

But investors can only carry the torch so far. There; the element of protecting longevity is becoming generationally more prominent, seen as a prerequisite younger investors look for when making financial decisions. “We joined the Climate Action 100 Plus in 2019, which is an initiative that engages directly with the 100 largest polluting companies in the world. But we're going to need more than that. So the governments across the world are going to have to step up and meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement.”

By seeking to apply pressure to governments to do their part, the company is baring its teeth at the entities that can make real change while doing what it can internally and with its partners.

By driving ESG aims at a time when they are becoming more intertwined with profit, Harvard Management Company upkeeps a high standard that other investors can get involved with and aspire to.

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Harvard Management Company - Getting to Net Zero

Investments, by their nature, have long been measured solely on their ability to generate a financial return with little regard for other considerations. But as human rights, international conflicts, and an accelerating climate crisis seep into every corner of the global economy, ESG factors and economic gain have grown inseparable.

“Fifteen years ago, if you were to ask somebody about ESG, it was really seen as a fringe movement. There were a few boutiques that had been developing practices in that area, but it hadn't yet gone mainstream,” says Michael Cappucci, managing director at Harvard Management Company (HMC). “It has now become a part of the mainstream investment conversation…It's not something that is just a niche product. It's something that we believe all thoughtful investors should be doing.”

HMC, which manages Harvard University's endowment, is leading by example in setting ambitious targets for the future.

In 2020, Harvard University was the first endowment to commit to manage their endowment to net zero by 2050. While they view this as an attainable benchmark, their broader goal is to have an impact on the real economy and not simply achieve an isolated accomplishment. HMC pursues this through collaboration and engagement.

“We've been working with a number of international organizations–like the UN PRI and SBTi–to develop standards and frameworks for measuring the impact of these portfolios.” By working with those developing the standards, HMC aims to make sure that the unique structure of endowment portfolios is taken into consideration, allowing peers to more easily follow suit.

However, as a firm that relies almost exclusively on external asset managers, HMC knows that they need help from their investment partners. Thankfully, Cappucci explains, they have found many willing partners.

“There's been so much focus on issues like climate change and social justice [in recent years] that it's really brought attention to the impact that the investment community can have. But, also, it's come from within as well. So there are leading people at all of the investment firms that care about these issues just as deeply,” he explains.

But investors can only carry the torch so far. There; the element of protecting longevity is becoming generationally more prominent, seen as a prerequisite younger investors look for when making financial decisions. “We joined the Climate Action 100 Plus in 2019, which is an initiative that engages directly with the 100 largest polluting companies in the world. But we're going to need more than that. So the governments across the world are going to have to step up and meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement.”

By seeking to apply pressure to governments to do their part, the company is baring its teeth at the entities that can make real change while doing what it can internally and with its partners.

By driving ESG aims at a time when they are becoming more intertwined with profit, Harvard Management Company upkeeps a high standard that other investors can get involved with and aspire to.

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