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Harvard hires vice-president to focus solely on sustainable investing



Harvard Management Company (HMC), the finance arm of the prestigious US university, has hired its first vice-president for sustainable investing.

In a newly created role, Jameela Pedicini will review how environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues affect the holdings in the university’s $30.7 billion (£19.8 billion) endowment.

HMC CEO Jane Mendillo said, “We are very pleased to have found someone with Jameela’s depth of knowledge in sustainable investing and ESG issues to fill this new role at HMC.

“As long-term investors we are acutely focused on factors that may impact the long-term sustainability of Harvard’s endowment portfolio. Jameela will help strengthen our understanding of these risks and opportunities and will sharpen our due diligence process to ultimately allow us to enhance the long-term returns we deliver for the university.”

Pedicini moves to HMC from the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), where she was an investment officer for global governance.

She is a member of the standards council for the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and holds an investment management certificate from the CFA Society of the UK. She has also worked as a manager of investor engagements at the UN Principles for Responsible Investment office in London.

Harvard’s is the largest university endowment fund in the US. In November last year, a poll found that 72% of its students wanted the university to divest from fossil fuels. They subsequently set up the Divest Harvard movement to urge HMC to reject all 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies from its portfolio, and to reinvest in socially responsible funds.

However, in February, Harvard spokesman Kevin Galvin said that while Harvard leaders were listening to student concerns, “the University operates with a strong presumption against divestment.”

Further reading:

Harvard finance arm creates sustainable investment role

Canadian university ranking put on spot over ethical investment

Manchester Met ranked greenest uni – but only 8 score full marks for ethical investment

Prestigious group of universities granted millions by the arms trade

The Guide to Sustainable Investment 2013