GREAT BEAR RAINFOREST, BRITISH COLUMBIA—The Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE) and Coast Conservation Endowment Fund Foundation (“Coast Funds”), today announced new shareholder proxy voting guidelines that advocate for the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Coast Funds is an Indigenous-led conservation finance organization created by First Nations, the governments of British Columbia and Canada, and private foundations as part of the 2006 Great Bear Rainforest agreements.
“Coast Funds’ investment guidelines set a new standard with specific and directive proxy voting guidelines to ensure recognition of Indigenous Rights by the boards of publicaly traded companies,” said Coast Funds’ board chair Huux Percy Crosby, of the Haida Nation. “To secure project access and ensure assets realize a return, leading companies must recognize the right to the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of affected Indigenous communities and deliver tangible benefits to them.”
Before developing the guidelines with asset manager Fiera Capital, in 2017 Coast Funds first embarked upon a review of its historical proxy voting activity to assess instances where environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations had arisen and determine how the fund had voted on shareholder proposals to corporations. To conduct this review, Coast Funds engaged SHARE, who represents a growing network of institutional investors with more than $23 billion in assets under management on issues related to responsible investment.
“In order to build stronger, healthier communities and economies, SHARE ensures that investments and corporate actions are continually contributing to the ongoing work of reconciliation. Our work is grounded in the principles of reconciliation and our commitment to shifting the corporate and investment sectors so they function in a manner that is consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action,” said Shannon Rohan, Chief Strategy Officer at SHARE.
“Since SHARE began working with Coast Funds in early 2018, we have seen the organization set a new standard in Canada among investment organizations through its efforts to align their investments with their values, including reconciliation.” Following the review, Coast Funds developed new proxy voting guidelines with advice from SHARE and with ongoing advice from long-time independent investment advisor, George & Bell Consulting.
“In our role as an Indigenous-led charitable foundation that finances First Nations’ efforts to strengthen human well-being and to fulfill their inherent stewardship responsibilities across coastal British Columbia, we feel it’s essential for Coast Funds to continually assess and evolve our socially responsible investment practices,” said Chris Trumpy, investment, finance and audit committee chair, Coast Funds. “We are hopeful our efforts to recognize the rights of Indigenous Peoples through responsible shareholder advocacy is adopted more broadly by foundations, pension funds, trusts and universities across Canada and eventually, globally.”
Through the investment guidelines released today, Coast Funds is upholding its values and the values of the First Nations the organization works in service of, and calls upon philanthropy across Canada to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ rights to Free, Prior and Informed Consent and implementation of the United Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples throughout their foundations’ investment practices.
The full guidelines can be downloaded here: https://coastfunds.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Coast-Funds-Investment-Guidelines-CCEFF.pdf
About Coast Funds
Coast Funds is a globally recognized model of Indigenous-led, permanent conservation finance that invests to strengthen the well-being of First Nations and the ecological integrity of the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii regions of British Columbia, Canada. Founded with $118 million in 2007, and approving funding for its first project in 2008, Coast Funds is a partnership of private foundations and government. As of June 18, 2019, Coast Funds has approved $87.4 million towards 372 conservation and sustainable economic development projects. For more information, visit: http://www.coastfunds.ca/
About the Shareholder Association for Research & Education
Since 2000, the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE) has built a community of values-driven investors who are committed to amplifying their voices in support of a sustainable, inclusive and productive economy. SHARE is the leading non-profit investor voice on responsible investment in Canada, representing a growing network of institutional investors with more than $23 billion in assets under management. SHARE provides proxy voting execution and analysis, shareholder engagement, education, policy advocacy, and practical research on issues related to responsible investment. SHARE’s clients include foundations, pension funds, mutual funds, faith-based organizations and asset managers across Canada.
For more information, visit: http://www.share.ca/
Damon van der Linde
T: 604-684-0223 ext 4