Press Release: Wespath Joins United Nations-Convened Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance
For Immediate Release
Contact: Julie Capozzi
Managing Director, Communications
Glenview, IL—Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath) has become the 22nd member of the United Nations (UN)-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance, bringing the group’s total assets under management (AUM) to $4.6 trillion. Wespath is the second U.S.-based asset owner and second faith-based asset owner to join the Alliance.
The Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance (Alliance) is a group of pension funds and insurers committed to pursuing strategies that will facilitate the transition of their investment portfolios to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 in alignment with the 1.5°C scenario set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement.
Wespath believes that this effort is integral to achieving a sustainable economy, which will produce investment returns aligned with the expectations of its participants and institutional investors. To reach this ambitious goal, members of the Alliance will partner and actively engage with companies and public policymakers in support of sustainable changes to the way the world collectively accesses and uses energy.
Wespath CEO and General Secretary Barbara Boigegrain said: "As the steward for the largest single pool of faith-based pension assets in the world, Wespath has a long history of investing in ways that deliver strong investment returns and pursuing efforts to promote building a sustainable economy. As a prudent fiduciary to our pension participants and institutional investors, we endeavor to align investment activities with efforts to achieve long-term, sustainable economic growth."
A founding signatory of the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment, Wespath has for years partnered with investors committed to ensuring attainment of a sustainable economy. It also holds leadership roles in other investor groups, including the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, the Transition Pathway Initiative and Climate Action 100+.
"The Alliance and other similar investor coalitions are essential for influencing the change necessary to achieve a sustainable economy. Together, we can collectively influence the development of stable financial markets, resilient companies and a healthier world for all of us," said Wespath CIO Dave Zellner.
Over the coming months, Alliance members will focus on developing the reporting guidelines and targets aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement required to establish a course for reaching the commitment in the stated timeline. The Alliance is actively recruiting other asset owners to make the net-zero commitment and to collaborate in developing these next steps.
Wespath is a not-for-profit agency of The United Methodist Church. It administers benefit plans and, together with its subsidiaries, invests nearly $25 billion in assets on behalf of over 100,000 participants and more than 130 United Methodist-affiliated institutions. More information on Wespath’s history of sustainable investing and management of climate-related risk and opportunity can be found here. More information about the Alliance is available at https://www.unepfi.org/net-zero-alliance/.
Notes to Editors
Convened by UNEP's Finance Initiative and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance is supported by WWF and is part of the Mission 2020 campaign, an initiative led by Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Launched in September at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit, the Alliance was initiated by Allianz, Caisse des Dépôts (CDC), La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Folksam Group, PensionDanmark, and Swiss Re, who were joined by Alecta, AMF, CalPERS, Nordea Life and Pension, Storebrand and Zurich as founding members.
In November, AXA, Aviva, CNP Assurances and Fonds de Réserve pour les Retraites (FRR) joined. The Church of England's investment bodies, Generali and Munich Re joined in February. ERAFP and KENFO joined in March.
About Wespath Benefits and Investments
Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath) is a not-for-profit agency that has been serving The United Methodist Church (UMC) for over a century. In accordance with its fiduciary duties, Wespath administers benefit plans and, together with its subsidiaries, including Wespath Institutional Investments, invests over $24 billion in assets on behalf of over 100,000 participants and over 100 United Methodist-affiliated institutions (as of February 28, 2020). Wespath invests in a sustainable manner that seeks to achieve positive financial, social and environmental impact while upholding the values of the UMC. Wespath maintains the largest reporting faith-based pension fund in the world. For additional information about Wespath Benefits and Investments, please follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.