The Current

Divestment trend shifts focus to 'ethical investments'

The biggest trend in investment is divestment -- and large institutions have heard the call to divest themselves of unethical holdings. As part of our By Design series, we look at what it means to invest ethically....
The biggest trend in investment is divestment -- and large institutions have heard the call to divest themselves of unethical holdings. As part of our By Design series, we look at what it means to invest ethically.

When it comes to universities and large foundations, the investment portfolio has been the target of a lot of attention in recent years. Environmental groups have been lobbying for divestment -- getting rid of investments in fossil fuels, and instead, channeling the institutional funds into more sustainable products.

All the lobbying would seem to be paying off. This past September, the Rockefeller Foundation made big waves by withdrawing all its fossil fuel sector investments -- no small feat considering that the Rockefeller family fortune was founded on oil.

And just last week, Concordia University in Montreal announced a pilot project for moving part of its endowment into so-called ethical funds.

But what does it mean to create an ethical investment portfolio?

  • Bram Freedman is the Vice-President of Development at Concordia University and President of the Concordia Foundation.
  • Todd Pettigrew is an Associate Professor at Cape Breton University and a former member of the University Board of Governors.
  • Michelle de Cordova is the Director of Corporate Engagement and Public Policy at NEI Investments.
  • David Yager is an oil and gas management consultant and President of Alberta's Wildrose Party.

What do you think of divesting from investments like oil and gas? Is it an effective way to make change? Or should shareholders try to make changes from within?

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This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry and Leif Zapf-Gilje.

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