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CalPERS Teams Up With Canadian Pensions for Infrastructure, ESG Initiatives

The group is backing efforts to finance infrastructure in emerging markets, create opportunities for women in finance, and improve climate-related reporting in support of G7 initiatives.

  • By Amy Whyte

Institutional investors including some of the largest pension funds in North America have pledged support to a trio of G7 initiatives focused on diversity, infrastructure, and climate change.

The group, led by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, represents more than $6 trillion in assets under management and includes the Alberta Investment Management Corp., Allianz, Aviva, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, Generali Group, Natixis Investment Managers, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, OPTrust, and Dutch pension PGGM.

In an announcement ahead of the G7 summit this weekend, the investor coalition said they would commit their resources and expertise to three goals: financing and developing infrastructure in emerging markets, creating opportunities for women in finance and investing globally, and accelerating the implementation of climate-related financial risk disclosures.

The project is a collaboration with the government of Canada, which currently holds the G7 presidency and is hosting this year’s summit in Quebec.

“Climate change, gender inequality, and the infrastructure gap are all significant global problems that need collective action and robust, practical solutions, said Ron Mock, president and chief executive officer of Ontario Teachers’, in the investor coalition statement Wednesday. “Institutional investors have the resources and platform to make meaningful collaborations in all these areas.”

To support infrastructure development, for instance, the group is launching a fellowship program for senior public-sector infrastructure managers in emerging markets, with the first dozen or so fellows starting in the summer of 2019.

Meanwhile, the gender diversity initiative will include an internship program focused on training female university students for careers in investing. The CFA Institute will partner with the coalition to develop the program.

In a separate statement Wednesday, CFA Institute CEO and president Paul Smith described gender inequality as “one of the world’s – and the industry’s – most intractable challenges.”

“This initiative represents an outstanding example of our ability as an industry to effect meaningful change,” he said.

[II Deep Dive: Women Still Struggle to Break Into Hedge Funds]

The third initiative will focus on promoting the adoption of standardized climate-related disclosures at the investor group’s portfolio companies, based on the final recommendations of the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. As part of this effort, the group will establish an advisory committee to support further implementation of the FSB-TCFD’s climate-reporting framework.

“As long-term investors, we know that our returns are affected by the health and strength of countries where we invest,” said Michael Sabia, president and CEO of CDPQ, in the investor coalition statement. “By working together as a group of funds in three specific areas, we seek to have a greater impact and a more lasting effect.”

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