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Memo from the President and Vice-Chancellor on Waterloo's signing the Responsible Investment Charter for Canadian Universities

Thursday, June 18, 2020

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Link to the original memo issued

To:                    University of Waterloo community

From:              Feridun Hamdullahpur, President and Vice-Chancellor

Date:               Thursday, June 18, 2020

Subject:          Waterloo signs the Responsible Investment Charter for Canadian Universities

Dear colleagues and students,

While we continue to grapple with challenges across our society, climate change and its effects on our world continue. The University of Waterloo has not forgotten this.

This is why I am happy to announce that Waterloo is now a signatory of the Responsible Investment Charter for Canadian Universities, along with 14 other Canadian universities.

Being a signatory to the Charter is more than a symbolic gesture. It is a call-to-action that includes, but is not be limited to:

  1. Adopting a responsible investing framework to guide decision-making, in line with recognized standards such as the UN-supported Principles of Responsible Investment (UN-PRI)
  2. Regularly measure the carbon intensity of our investment portfolios and set meaningful targets for their reduction over time;
  3. Evaluate progress towards these objectives on a regular basis and share the results of such assessments publicly;
  4. Ensure that the performance evaluation of our investment managers takes into account their success in achieving such objectives, alongside the other criteria for assessing their performance

We are looking forward to leveraging this investing framework that reflects the UN- PRI. This and the other steps above are keeping in line with our other efforts to create positive change on our campus, nationally and globally.

Our signing of the Responsible Investment Charter for Canadian Universities builds on and takes further action beyond the existing commitments adopted by the University as a result of the Responsible Investment Working Group’s recommendations.

As a place of higher learning, our teaching has the power to enhance understanding of the principles of sustainability. As we look to create new knowledge across a wide range of disciplines to propel our society forward, our research is essential in advancing knowledge about climate change and helping identify effective, evidence- based solutions. As major owners of property and facilities, we have an important opportunity to reduce the carbon emissions arising from our own operations. Our new Shift: Neutral climate action plan sets out a framework for how the University will take steps to reduce the carbon footprint of its own operations and activities. And, as stewards of long-term investments, we have a responsibility to manage our capital in ways that accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy and protect our stakeholders from the growing risks associated with climate change.

We take this responsibility very seriously. This is an important step to take, though certainly not the final step. We will continue important conversations as we look to make needed policy changes and physical improvements to the University of Waterloo to build a resilient, prosperous and sustainable future.