UM co-signs investment charter and joins forces to address climate change
The University of Manitoba alongside 14 of Canada’s other leading universities have united to tackle climate change by pledging to follow environmentally responsible investment practices.
As a co-signatory of the charter Investing to Address Climate Change: A Charter for Canadian Universities, UM recognizes its important role in mitigating climate change and has pledged to follow the United Nations’ Principles in Responsible Investing framework. This charter unites Canadian universities the financial marketplace, leveraging their collective investments to reduce carbon emissions through shareholder activism that can bring about positive change.
“UM understands the role higher education plays in addressing climate change and how we and our partners provide a path forward through academic research and learning, as well as through our operations and investment activities,” says David Barnard, President and Vice-Chancellor at UM. “As educators and producers of knowledge, we have the power to enhance our understanding of the principals of sustainability and to advance discovery and identify solutions. This is a responsibility we take seriously.”
In 2019, UM achieved a ‘Gold Stars’ rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, who ranked UM in their top 10 in the categories of Coordination and Planning and Research. UM’s research and scholarly expertise has also lead it to be designated as the United Nations Academic Impact hub to help the international agency achieve its sustainable development goal related to clean water and sanitation. This new charter continues to advance UM as leaders in environmental stewardship, which has a long history. For example:
- UM offers over 400 courses, at various levels, focused on sustainability
- UM signed the Talloiries Declaration in 1990 in France, committing us to environmental sustainability
- The Centre for Earth Observation Sciences was established in 1994 to understand the complex networks of Earth’s natural systems and how they will respond to climate change
- UM was an early leader in the move to reduce its resource usage and environmental footprint, releasing a Sustainability Strategy in 2016 and the most recent update in 2019. All new buildings must aim to achieve LEED Silver certification, and to help achieve this, four LEED Accredited Professionals are on staff with Physical Plant.
“I’m proud of what our community has accomplished since I took office in 2008, the year we signed the University and College Presidents’ Climate Change Statement of Action for Canada,” says Barnard. “Since then, we have created the Office of Sustainability and a robust strategy to reduce our carbon footprint. We have done remarkable work and have achieved many things that are worthy of celebration. And although much work remains, our passionate and caring researchers, student groups, working groups, staff and administrators will help this great university overcome the challenges of the future.”
This recently signed charter holds UM to regularly measure the carbon intensity of its investment portfolios and set meaningful targets for their reduction over time. It also requires UM to evaluate progress towards these objectives on a regular basis and share the results of such assessments publicly. The university will also ensure the performance evaluation of its investment managers considers their success in achieving such objectives, alongside the normal criteria for assessing their performance.