All posts by stephaniecappa

Rally for Justice in Iberá: FRIDAY 2pm @ WIDENER

Rally to Stop Harvard’s Argentine Mismanagement and Exploitation

Harvard needs to hear the message from us LOUD AND CLEAR: END the abuses. We are ONE Harvard community, and we deserve ONE set of standards. 

Will you join us to on April 11th as we unite across the 4000 miles between Corrientes and Harvard Yard to demand an end to the injustice? 

HARVARD INJUSTICES IN IBERÁ: 
For 7 years, Harvard-owned plantations in the Argentine Iberá Wetlands have jeopardized Emilio and Adrian’s communities and their way of life, squeezing out profits in the name of Harvard students’ benefit.

RALLYING FOR JUSTICE:
Join the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition for an epic RALLY on FRIDAY, APRIL 11th at 2PM to honor Emilio and Adrian’s visit to Cambridge and hear their account firsthand.

CO SPONSORS:
Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition
Students for a Just and Stable Future
Food and Water Watch
Student Labor Action Movement
Harvard Developers for Development
Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance
Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee
Responsible Endowments Coalition
Harvard Kennedy School Progressive Caucus
Harvard College Environmental Action Committee
HealthRoots at Harvard School of Public Health

This rally is part of the Stop Harvard’s Argentinian Mismanagement and Exploitation (SHAME) Tour week-of-action from April 5 to 16th.

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President Faust responds, won’t discuss Chilean investments

On August 6, 2013, Harvard President Drew Faust emailed the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition regarding our concerns with Harvard’s investment practices. She declined our invitation to talk about responsible investing but said she will continue to remain aware of discussions taking place on campus.

We are glad that our president is paying attention to those who are calling for investment transparency and accountability at Harvard. Yet we are disappointed that President Faust has again declined to investigate and mitigate risks to the environment, workers, and communities.

In order to learn about what is really happening in communities where Harvard is investing, members of our Coalition are in contact with individuals and local organizations at home and abroad. We intend to release findings shortly, as this information is critical to assessing Harvard’s investments.

We expect that President Faust will not only listen to these findings but take action.

  • Read the full letter from President Faust to RI@H below.

Dear Members of the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition,

Thank you for sharing your perspectives on Harvard’s investment practices.  As you are aware, there has been a robust conversation on campus over the past year about the University’s holdings, including students meeting with members of the Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility, panel discussions, and vigorous debate in the Crimson and other venues.  I look forward to following these continuing campus conversations with interest.  With regard to climate change–a concern I know we share–I wanted to be sure that you knew I had dedicated a portion of my Commencement speech this year to characterizing some of the ways in which Harvard seeks to counteract, and develop solutions for, climate change. You can find the text of my speech here: http://www.harvard.edu/president/2013-commencement-speech.

You have written me, too, about Harvard Management Company investments in Chile.  Sustainability is a key element of our natural resources investment strategy, and we all share the goal of responsible stewardship of forests.  I am aware of the cases that you referred to, and HMC is confident that the courts, once they have reviewed all the facts of each case, will conclude that the company overseeing Harvard’s properties in Chile has acted in compliance with the law.

I am not able to join you for your event on September 17, but look forward to learning about the discussions that take place.

With best wishes for the rest of the summer and the upcoming semester,

Sincerely,

Drew Faust

PRESS RELEASE: Coalition welcomes Harvard’s first Vice President for Sustainable Investing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Harvard Coalition welcomes University’s first 

Vice President for Sustainable Investing

Contact Stephanie Cappa at Stephanie.Cappa@gmail.com or 757-207-2777

CAMBRIDGE, MA – The Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition welcomes Jameela Pedicini as Harvard’s first Vice President for Sustainable Investing.

According to a Harvard Management Company (HMC) press release, Pedicini “will work with HMC investment professionals across asset classes to analyze how ESG issues are currently integrated into the investment process and suggest enhancements where appropriate.”

She will also provide “substantive staff support to Harvard University’s Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility (CCSR) and serve as a primary liaison to other University offices, committees, and constituents on ESG/investor responsibility issues.”

“The University has listened to students and community members calling on Harvard’s investments to be aligned with Harvard’s values,” said Alexi White (HKS, ‘13). “We warmly welcome Jameela as Harvard’s first investment officer to focus on environment, social, and governance issues.”

Pedicini formerly served as Investment Officer for Global Governance with the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and as a Manager of Investor Engagements at the UN’s Principles for Responsible Investment London office.

“We look forward to working with Ms. Pedicini to ensure that all Harvard investments – starting with wholly-owned companies like Agricola Brinzal in Chiloe and the Doubletree Hotel in Allston – meet basic standards for land rights, labor rights, and environmental protection,” said Sandra Korn (College, ’14). “This is an important step to extend Harvard’s commitment to responsibility, ethical leadership, and comprehensive sustainability to its endowment.”

The Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition will deliver an invitation to meet with Jameela in the coming days.

NEW Spotlight on Harvard’s Finances

For the first time ever, Harvard University’s and Harvard Management Company’s tax filings are available in searchable form in the “Resources” section of our website.

We’ve just posted Harvard University’s latest tax return (FY 2012, IRS Form 990) there – with highlights below. Find something else noteworthy? Please let us know!

Spotlight on Harvard’s Finances for Tax Year 2011-2012:

  • Confirmed 100% ownership of Agricola Brinzal, a forestry company facing multiple lawsuits filed by the Chilean government for illegal logging and violating forest management plans.
  • Confirmed 100% ownership of Agricola Duramen, LTDA, a forestry company fined by the Chilean government for violating environmental protection laws.
  • Reveals a large Cayman Islands presence, including a 70% stake ($177 million) in Round Table Asset Recovery Master Fund – a Cayman Island-based hedge fund founded in 2007 by Ian Banwell, former CIO for Bank of America.
  • From 2008 to 2009, the endowment plummeted from $35.9 billion to $25.3 billion – a $10.5 billion loss in a single year.
  • Fundraising power: The University receives $200 – $300 million per year in contributions.
  • In addition to HMC, Harvard employs the following tax-exempt investment management groups: Blue Marble Holdings, Demeter Holdings, Phemus, and Shipping Venture Corp.C

Harvard, Be a Responsible Owner!

This post was originally published in The Harvard Crimson on May 17, 2013

By KEVIN S. WANG, ALEXI WHITE, and CAROLINE T. ZHANG

Harvard University owns companies around the world and is a controlling stakeholder—that is, a majority shareholder, majority owner, or full owner—of over 100 companies. As a center of higher education and a leader of the community, Harvard holds itself to principles of environmental sustainability, non-discrimination, and labor rights. Its pledges to reduce emissions and to pay its workers a living wage are just a few examples. Our commitment to transparency, fairness, sustainability, and human dignity should not end at Harvard’s gates. Harvard must be a responsible owner of all its investments, particularly of the companies in which it owns a controlling stake. It has special ability, and special responsibility, to work with these companies to improve their practices.

There are numerous inconsistencies between Harvard’s policies on campus and those of its companies. Last year, food service workers at Harvard Law School asked the University for a fair process to unionize. Harvard agreed, remaining neutral in their unionization process and respecting the majority of workers’ request to form a union. However, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Allston, also owned—but not managed—by Harvard, workers have not been granted a fair process to create and join a union without intimidation or interference from managers, despite repeated requests. In fact, workers at the DoubleTree even filed suit with the National Labor Relations Board in April 2013, alleging that management illegally interfered with their unionization process. Why should the workers at a hotel directly owned by Harvard be treated any differently than workers on this campus?

Harvard directly owns at least 11 companies in Chile. One, Agrícola Brinzal, is currently being sued by CONAF, the National Forestry Corporation of the Ministry of Agriculture of Chile, for multiple violations of Chilean law against deforestation. Another Chilean company owned by Harvard, Agrícola Duramen Limitada, was fined by Chilean courts for similar activity. A company owned entirely by Harvard should not be engaging in alleged illegal logging practices.

As members of the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition, we ask that Harvard University and Harvard Management Company be responsible owners with all funds and companies in which it holds a controlling stake—that is, in which it is a majority shareholder, majority owner, or full owner. We demand that Harvard act to ensure that the policies of these companies comply with basic standards of responsibility.

First, Harvard’s companies must comply with all local, national, and international laws and treaties in all areas where the company is operating, whether or not these laws are rigorously enforced by local authorities.

Second, Harvard must ensure that its companies are acting as sustainably as possible, as Harvard has committed to do on campus. The University’s website states, “Harvard University believes universities have an accountability to the future—a special role and a special responsibility to address global challenges as large as climate change and environmental sustainability.” Harvard’s Sustainability Principles note, “The University has an affirmative record of responsible compliance with environmental and safety regulations and a proven effective system of environmental management accountability.” Harvard’s companies should embody these principles too.

Third, Harvard’s companies must recognize workers’ right to collective bargaining and union representation, as well as promise neutrality and a fair process for unionization, even if these rights are not enshrined in local legislation. They must also guarantee parity in wages and benefits between directly hired and sub-contracted employees.

Fourth, Harvard’s companies must respect land rights, including the rights of small farmers and indigenous people. They must not infringe on any legitimate land tenure rights, including where such rights are not formally recorded, and they must seek to prevent all violent conflict over land tenure rights.

Fifth, Harvard’s companies must adhere to Harvard’s hiring and employment policies. The University’s own published non-discrimination policy states that “Any form of discrimination based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, veteran status, or disability unrelated to course requirements is contrary to the, principles and policies of Harvard University.” The same policy must apply for all of Harvard’s companies.

Finally, Harvard’s companies must be transparent and accountable. They must produce and publish online annual reports disclosing all political contributions, lobbying activities, the position and compensation of the top 10 highest-compensated employees, and conflicts of interest.

We have laid out these principles—and a way for Harvard to enforce and remain accountable for them—on the website of the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition. We demand that Harvard become a responsible owner now, by working toward a fair unionization process for the workers at the DoubleTree, by rectifying any alleged illegal deforestation in Chile, and by adopting our proposed Standards for Responsible Ownership for all of its companies.

Harvard’s companies should not be harming the environment, their workers, or the world. Harvard has the ability to bring about change in the companies it controls, and the moral obligation to do so.

Kevin S. Wang ’16 lives in Stoughton Hall. Alexi White, MPP ’13, is a student at the Harvard Kennedy School. Caroline T. Zhang ’16, a Crimson news writer, lives in Wigglesworth Hall.

Students Press President Faust on Chilean Investments

Despite the downpour, thirty Harvard students marched to President Faust’s office on Thursday, May 9 demanding answers. Agricola Brinzal, a Harvard-owned forestry company operating in Chile, has been accused of systematically violating that country’s environmental laws, and the Harvard community deserves a full explanation.

Francisco Meneses, a Chilean student at the Kennedy School, spoke forcefully about the need for the University to respect the environment and human rights wherever it invests, and led a delegation of undergraduate and graduate students into Massachusetts Hall, where President Faust’s office is located. The group hand-delivered a letter urging the University to disclose its rationale for its Agricola Brinzal investment and adopt clear environmental, social, and governance protections.

Though President Faust was unavailable to speak to students, that didn’t stop those gathered from raising their voices as a reminder of Harvard’s shared values and our collective responsibility to the world beyond Cambridge.

Watch Francisco speak out about environmental abuses in Chile

See pictures of the event

Read the letter delivered to President Faust

See the media advisory