Canadian universities unite as investors to help address the climate crisis

By February 18, 2021News

The University Network for Investor Engagement (UNIE)  targets greenhouse gas emissions and climate risk at companies across the economy

By Kevin Thomas, SHARE CEO

On behalf of everyone at SHARE, I am excited to share with you today a new project that SHARE has been working on behind the scenes for quite some time: University Network for Investor Engagement, or UNIE. This initiative is designed to help Canadian universities connect to the global investor movement to accelerate the climate transition – undoubtedly, the defining issue of our time.

UNIE is a coalition of Canadian university endowments and pension plans. It was launched today, through SHARE, to engage investee corporations on climate change risks.

SHARE will engage with North American public companies held in UNIE member portfolios to address pervasive risks associated with climate change. The UNIE initiative will focus on key sectors where advocacy can make the biggest difference, including finance, transportation, energy and utilities, and manufacturing, focusing both on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy.

Initial participants include Carleton University, Concordia University, Dalhousie University, McGill University, McMaster University, Mount Allison University, Université de Montreal, University of St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto Asset Management, University of Victoria, University of Victoria Foundation and York University.

By joining forces, and as part of a national and global movement of investors, Canadian university pension plans and endowments can have a powerful influence on corporate behavior. Working together in one program amplifies each institution’s voice and leverages their power to bring about change.

The new initiative is open to new members and new member institutions are joining regularly as word gets out about the initiative — so if you are a representative of a Canadian educational institution and you would like to get involved, please email us.

The work is just
beginning, so stay tuned.


But you don’t have to take my word for it — Here’s what some UNIE members have to say:

“This has been a collective effort, driven by the motivation of universities to take decisive action on climate change. Canadian universities have a unique role to play in tackling climate change – not only as thought leaders, educators and research hubs but also as investors. Participating in the UNIE initiative will be an important part of our overall responsible investing strategy.”

Daren Smith
President and Chief Investment Officer at University of Toronto Asset Management

“The transition away from carbon will require substantial changes in energy generation and use. UNIE is one clear and focused way university endowments and pension plans can make a difference together. It allows us to influence how, and how fast, that low-carbon transition takes place. I invite other Canadian universities to join us.”

Deidre (Dee) Henne
AVP (Administration) & Chief Financial Officer at McMaster University