Press Release: GBPHB Calls for Active Engagement on Climate Change and Human Rights

For Immediate Release
February 11, 2016

Contact: M. Colette Nies, Managing Director, Communications
(847) 866-4296 or cnies@gbophb.org

Glenview, IL—The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits (GBPHB) reiterated its position on sustainable investment in a video introduction by General Secretary Barbara Boigegrain which is being shown at gatherings of central conference delegates. The video program, posted on the agency’s website, is designed to provide information for delegates and others across The United Methodist Church in preparation for General Conference 2016, in accordance with the General Board’s fiduciary responsibilities. The video advocates for active investor engagement to bring about change on key issues. It also addresses petitions and calls for screening or divestment of some of the companies held within the approximately $20 billion in assets GBPHB manages on behalf of 92,000 clergy and lay plan participants.

GBPHB Divestment Position
In the video message, GBPHB clearly states its position on several petitions that GC2016 will consider that would impact the agency’s fiduciary role. The agency remains firm in its commitment to explain to delegates and others why its investment approach to climate change and human rights issues serves the best interests of the denomination, while opposing screening and divestment petitions seeking General Conference directives.

The agency’s website cites a series of examples that demonstrate success in its longstanding approach to maintaining ownership and engaging with companies in which it is invested, leading to positive outcomes and ultimate change. For instance, on the issue of climate change, GBPHB’s engagement has encouraged companies to be more energy efficient, to disclose greenhouse gas emissions, to set emissions-reduction goals, and to strategically factor potential regulatory changes into business plans and core operations—in order to reduce carbon-related risk.

GBPHB stated that it continues to oppose petitions seeking General Conference investing directives that would be in conflict with its fiduciary role, entrusted to GBPHB by the General Conference, and the decisions for which the agency is ultimately accountable. Since last fall, GBPHB representatives have been meeting with delegations in the U.S. and Central Conferences to state its position on divestment, the actions it takes to invest sustainably, and to provide the opportunity to address questions or respond to opposing viewpoints. GBPHB is opposing petitions that would divert the agency from the role entrusted to it by General Conference.

The recently created video asks viewers to consider the best ways to address a broad spectrum of issues, and explains the risks of certain investment strategies. A version of the video edited for clarity can be found at the following link. Video Link

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About GBPHB
The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits (GBPHB) is a not-for-profit administrative agency of The United Methodist Church, with Church-authorized fiduciary responsibility for the benefit plans it administers and the assets it invests through its Wespath Investment Management division.

Prudent investment management decisions are an ongoing, long-term priority, supporting benefit plans for over 92,000 participants and approximately $20 billion in assets managed on their behalf, and for many United Methodist-affiliated endowments, foundations and other institutions. This fiduciary obligation reflects the stated values of the Church and helps ensure financial, environmental and social sustainability across all investments.

GBPHB is the largest reporting faith-based pension fund and among the top 100 pension funds in the United States. As a sustainable investor, GBPHB is committed to active ownership through corporate and public policy engagement, proxy voting and the management of excessive sustainability risk. Through its Positive Social Purpose Lending program, GBPHB invests in affordable housing, community development and expanded loan opportunities for disadvantaged communities worldwide.

 

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