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Membership, Mandate and Methodology

The Responsible Investment Working Group (RIWG) is an ad hoc working group of the Board of Governors Pension and Finance and Investments Committees (the committees), comprised of members drawn from the committees and the broader Laurier community. The membership includes faculty, staff, students, alumni and external Board members. The university’s external investment advisor attended every meeting; other resources were consulted as necessary.

Although the petition from faculty spoke specifically to the need to divest from fossil fuel investments, the Board agreed that a more comprehensive review of the university’s investment policies, including current environmental, social and governance (ESG) statements, through the wider lens of responsible investment would be beneficial. Beyond the practicality of taking a broader view, the Board wanted to ensure that the policies were consistent with Laurier’s values, vision, mission and guiding principles, as well as its reputation for environmental excellence and social innovation.

Thus, the RIWG was established with a mandate to make a recommendation to the committees on whether and how to revise existing investment policies and procedures for university managed investment funds to incorporate additional requirements relating to environmental, social and governance and socially responsible investment factors in investment decisions. If the RIWG’s recommendations are accepted by the committees and the Board of Governors, the working group will have fulfilled its mandate and be dissolved.

Membership

  • Lynda Kitamura (co-chair), external Board of Governors member
  • Alastair Robertson, retiree representative to Pension Committee
  • Marc Kilgour, faculty representative to Pension Committee
  • Tom Berczi (co-chair), external Board of Governors member
  • Bill Muirhead, external Board of Governors member
  • Niru Philip, staff representative to Board of Governors
  • Marley Wildish, undergraduate student
  • Marc Richardson, alumni
  • Gautam Khanna, graduate student
  • Donna Kotsopoulos, faculty

Resource Staff

  • Wayne Steffler, AVP: Administration
  • Rebecca Wickens, university secretary
  • Nic Wright, manager, treasury and cash management
  • Mary Anne Banks, AVP: Financial Resources

Terms of Reference

Purpose

To advise the Pension Committee and the Finance and Investments Committee (the committees) on whether and how to revise existing investment policies and procedures (SIPPs) for university-managed investment funds to incorporate additional requirements around the consideration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) and socially responsible investment (SRI) factors in investment decisions.

Role of the Working Group

To make recommendations to the committees consistent with the purpose above, after having conducted appropriate research and consultation, including:

  • Investigate and research SRI, ESG, Fossil Fuel Divestment and Impact Investing concepts and practises within the public sector and higher education environment;
  • Review of the purposes and goals of the investment funds;
  • Review of the legal and regulatory requirements, including contractual commitments, fiduciary and trust responsibilities, and legislation related to pension plans;
  • Review of existing university policies, procedures and governance related to investment funds, and existing university policies, procedures and governance related to sustainability and environmental responsibility;
  • Review of other Canadian universities’ approaches to incorporating ESG factors into decision-making;
  • Researching different ways to incorporate ESG factors into investment decisions and modelling the impact of different models on the investment funds’ returns and the ability to fulfil commitments to donors, plan members and other beneficiaries of the investment funds;
  • Consulting university stakeholders, including pension plan members, retirees, donors and students;
  • Consulting legal, actuarial and investment advisors, as appropriate; and
  • Conducting other appropriate and reasonable research and consultation required in order to provide advice within the mandate of the working group.

Meetings

Monthly or more frequently as determined by the working group, with the goal of completing its work in early to mid-2017.

Reporting Structure

The working group will report on its progress at each regularly scheduled joint meeting of the committees. The final report will include recommended amendments to the SIPPs and an analysis of the financial impact, risks and benefits associated with the recommendations. If the committees accept the recommendations of the working group, the committees will recommend the revised SIPPs to the Board of Governors for approval.

Membership Criteria

Must be financially literate and have proven strong knowledge of investment and pension concepts.

Membership

Members will be appointed by the chairs of the Pension Committee and the Finance and Investments Committee.

Voting Members

  • Three members of the Pension Committee, at least one of whom is a pension plan member and one of whom is a retiree.
  • Three members of the Finance and Investments Committee.
  • A chair or co-chairs selected by the committees, who is a member / are members of the Finance and Investments and/or Pension Committees.
  • Three other working group members may be appointed on the recommendation of the Nomination Committee in order to add expertise and/or representation from affected stakeholder groups, provided that at least one of these members is a Laurier faculty member.

If there is no committee member available to serve on the working group who meets the membership criteria (above), on the recommendation of the Nomination Committee, one of the Pension Committee or Finance and Investment Committee positions may be filled by a member of the Laurier community (faculty, staff, student, alumni, Board member) who is not also a committee member, provided that individual meets the membership criteria.

Resources

A minimum of three resource people as appointed by the VP: Finance and Administration.

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