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Paxson initiates new climate change task force

University community members to examine business and investment practices regarding sustainability

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, April 27, 2017

In response to recommendations  made by the Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies, President Christina Paxson P’19 announced plans to create a task force to address climate change and environmental concerns in University business and investment practices as well as increase the marketing of the Brown University Sustainable Investment Fund, according to a community-wide email sent Wednesday.

ACCRIP, which examines ethical and moral responsibility in the University investment policies, provided recommendations to Paxson in December 2016. The recommendations came in response to a presentation made by Fossil Free Brown in 2014 suggesting divestment from the top 200 fossil fuel companies.

The Task Force on Climate Change and Business and Investment Practices will make recommendations to Paxson after reviewing the University’s “commitment to environmental sustainability and addressing climate change” in its business and investment practices, according to the website of the Office of the President. The task force will be charged in Fall 2017 with producing an interim report by the end of the semester and final recommendations by March 2018.

The task force will assess existing investments and procurement, as well as external vendors and contractors currently hired by the University based on their commitment to sustainability practices, according to the Office of the President’s website.

The task force will also assist existing committees, including ACCRIP, by making recommendations on the University’s proxy voting guidelines. Additionally it will support the Sustainability Strategic and Planning Advisory Committee, which is charged with meeting the University’s greenhouse gas emissions targets set in 2008, and determine the necessity of creating a standing committee that will continue the task force’s work “on an ongoing basis,” according to the website of the Office of the President.

The task force will be comprised of experts on the environment and climate change, staff members from the business, investment and administrative offices and student and alum representatives.

Two of the four faculty representatives will be experts in the environment and climate change, and a staff member from the Office of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Initiatives in the Department of Facilities Management will be also be appointed.

Other staff members will represent the business and investment offices, including one representative each from the Brown University Investment Office, the Controller’s Office and the Business and Financial Services department in the Division of Finance and Administration and the Office of Government and Community Relations.

Two undergraduate students, one graduate student and one alum will represent the student body.

In response to the second recommendation, Paxson said the Division of Advancement has already been discussing methods to increase marketing of the BUSIF, which is a sustainable endowment option that was created in January 2016 . Potential strategies include increasing the online visibility of BUSIF on the “Giving” pages of the Brunonia website as well as in existing communications channels such as email newsletters, especially to young alums, who are “one of the audiences for which this ‘gifts of any size’ option has appeal,” Paxson wrote in the community-wide email.