With the 3rd largest endowment fund in the UK, and the largest in Scotland, the University of Edinburgh has the opportunity to lead the way on sustainability and social responsibility in finance.
Ahead of the fossil free campaign which will be launched nationally in Autumn 2013, the university is uniquely placed, with ongoing reviews of its SRI policy, a commitment to sign the UN Principles of Responsible Investment, and a live campaign for responsible investment, to show leadership in this area.
It should reaffirm its commitments to social responsiblity and sustainability through divestment from arms and fossil fuels, positive investment in greening its own activities, and making its investment portfolio more accountable.
The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body whose mission it is, amongst others, to ‘make a significant, sustainable and socially responsible contribution to Scotland, the UK and the world’. We want this mission to be reflected in the university’s investment portfolio.
The university has over £200 million of investments; many of these were donations from alumni. It should use those carefully and responsibly. According to the latest investment report, the university invests massively in fossil fuels and other environmentally disastrous industries such as fracking and tar sands – and the arms industry.
Until now, the university has made efforts to live up to its own mission and responsibility towards its donor. People and Planet have been campaigning for ethical investment and participatory decision-making about the investment portfolio of the University for more than a decade. In 2003, the university introduced the Socially Responsible Investment Policy. While this policy is clearly a step into the right direction, we believe it to be ethically insufficient and incomplete, as it excludes students from the decision-making about the investment portfolio. Last year the University of Edinburgh was the first university to sign up to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI). Yet, without a divestment from the arms industry we cannot speak of a truly responsible investment.
Ethical Investment can be implemented while remaining profitable. We therefore campaign for an earnest responsible investment policy that includes a divestment from arms and fossil fuels as well as accountability and tranparency. We want the University of Edinburgh to live up to its mission and continue ‘influencing the world since 1583’ – in a responsible and sustainable manner.