Press Release: Wespath Releases Its Newest Sustainability Report
June 24, 2019
For Immediate Release
Contact: Lisa Drew
Managing Director, Communications
Glenview, IL—Wespath Benefits and Investments is pleased to present its 2017-2018 Sustainable Investment Report—Creating a More Sustainable Global Economy—as a deep dive into its work to seek positive financial returns, while also seeking a positive impact on the world around us. This report is also Wespath’s first to incorporate the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework.
Barbara Boigegrain, Wespath General Secretary and Chief Executive Officer, said: “We believe a sustainable economy promotes healthier financial markets and resilient companies, and ultimately, greater financial security for those we serve.”
2017 – 2018 Report Highlights
Strategic Approach to the Low-Carbon Transition
Wespath developed and implemented a Climate Action Plan designed to evaluate the extent to which the funds it manages are positioned for the transition to a low-carbon economy.
The findings culminated in Wespath developing and investing $750 million in an innovative ‘Transition Ready’ Strategy, which invests in companies with business models that prepare them for the low-carbon transition.
Investing with Impact
To date, Wespath has specifically dedicated nearly 15% of its assets in investments that are creating measurable positive impact.
In 2017 and 2018, the Positive Social Purpose Lending Program financed a combined $166 million in permanent loans and forward commitments that support affordable housing and community development in the U.S.
Wespath evaluated the extent to which over 50 external managers incorporated the consideration of environmental, social and governance factors in their investment decision-making.
Engaging for Change with Groundbreaking Results
A 2017 Shareholder resolution filed with Occidental Petroleum asking the company for enhanced climate risk disclosures became the first of its kind to pass in the U.S.
Wespath led a combined 52 corporate engagements in 2017 and 2018 and participated in over 350 collaborative corporate engagements.
Incorporating the TCFD Recommendations
Wespath is pleased to be among the first U.S.-based asset owners to report using the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework. Global corporate engagement efforts, including Wespath’s, have asked companies to report climate risk exposure using the TCFD framework, which allows asset owners to translate these disclosures into useable financial metrics.
“Leading asset owners supportive of the Paris Agreement are now using the TCFD to evaluate the exposure of their investments to climate risk,” said David Zellner, Chief Investment Officer. “Subjecting our investments to the same analysis we expect from the companies in which we invest allows us to better manage risks and identify opportunities as we transition to a low-carbon economy. Ultimately, our objective is to deliver stronger returns to our participants and institutional investors.”
About Wespath Benefits and Investments
Wespath Benefits and Investments (WBI) 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, WBI administers benefit plans and, together with its subsidiaries, including Wespath Institutional Investments, invests over $23 billion in assets on behalf of over 100,000 participants and over 130 United Methodist-affiliated institutions (as of March 31, 2019). WBI invests in a sustainable manner that seeks to achieve positive financial, social and environmental impact while upholding the values of the UMC. WBI 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.