By Jake Barnett
Manager, Sustainable Investment Services
January 4, 2021
I am thrilled to share that Wespath has officially signed the Statement of Investor Commitment to Support a Just Transition on Climate Change (Just Transition Statement), an action which further illustrates our focus on supporting the development of a sustainable global economy.
Wespath joins the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), and over 150 other investors representing more than $10 trillion in assets under management, in endorsing this statement.
The Just Transition Statement calls on fiduciaries and investors to support a transition to a low-carbon economy that is both fast and fair, with responsible management of the social impacts of this transition in the workplace and wider community:
“There is an increasing recognition that the social dimension of the transition to a resilient and low-carbon economy has been given insufficient attention… Investors can make an important contribution as stewards of assets, allocators of capital and as influential voices in public policy to make sure that the transition produces inclusive and sustainable development.”
More specifically, the Just Transition Statement recommends that investors integrate social issues into their low-carbon transition philosophy. In other words, investors should consider how individuals, workplaces and communities will be impacted by the transition. The statement then calls on investors to factor these considerations into climate change-related investment strategies, corporate engagement activities, capital allocation decisions, policy advocacy and partnerships, and learning and transparency efforts.
I think positive social impact will be a vital part of a successful low-carbon transition. Wespath’s endorsement of the statement also fully aligns with our existing approach to the low-carbon transition and vision for a sustainable global economy—one that promotes social cohesion, economic prosperity for all and environmental health.
This is important as we fulfill our responsibilities as a fiduciary. A transition that focuses on environmental issues alone, without accounting for social cohesion and economic prosperity, will likely have adverse economic consequences. The low-carbon transition represents a gradual, but major, change in the way the economy operates. Failure to approach it holistically could compromise our ability to meet the investment expectations of our participants and institutional clients, thus jeopardizing our fundamental fiduciary duties.
In support of sustainable outcomes, and in alignment with the Just Transition Statement, we commit to the following:
Finally, I note that our values as an agency of The United Methodist Church strongly aligns with this work. The Just Transition Statement calls on us to act with the spirit of curiosity and innovation, and the Church reminds us that humility and compassion are important core values. By faithfully implementing these values in our just transition efforts, we believe Wespath will strengthen its role as a responsible steward of the assets we manage on behalf of our participants and investors.
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