After many months of conversations and searching, the School Sisters of Notre Dame’s Cooperative Investment Fund’s (CIF) Board of Directors voted at the November 2016 meeting to commit a portion of the CIF fund to a Renewable Power Investment. This investment is an investor-aligned fund featuring wind and solar assets while shifting companies and institutions away from coal and oil. The fund expects to own as many as 40 assets globally, including potential investments in emerging market countries.

Shalom North America, the SSND Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee, began a conversation two years ago concerning the integration of SSNDs’ work on ecological concerns, human rights and economic justice and SSNDs’ efforts around corporate responsible investing. Sister Ethel Howley, SSND, the social responsibility resource person to the SSND CIF engaged in research to learn the extent of the CIF’s investments in fossil fuel corporations.

At the SSND CIF meeting that followed the Shalom meeting, Sister Ethel recommended that a wide range of fossil fuel investments (drilling, exploration, transportation and equipment) in CIF be sold from the portfolio unless the companies have a MSCI Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) score of BBB or higher. In addition, she recommended that SSND maintain small positions with the major producers of fossil fuels, including ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips, so that they can remain at the table of dialogue.

The SSND CIF Board responded affirmatively. The SSND Fund with help from its consultant searched for companies involved with renewable energy production. After education and research, the Board of the CIF Fund unanimously supported an investment in Global Renewable Power investment strategy.

Because SSNDs “direct their resources toward education that transforms and call all to eliminate the root causes of injustice,” the process of engaging investment managers in renewable energy investments resulted in an experience of education that transforms for both the SSND managers and the board of the CIF.

The SSND investment in Global Renewable Power aims to empower companies and institutions to increase renewable energy, displace greenhouse gas emissions and reduce water usage. These are ambitious goals, yet this is a tangible way that SSNDs are addressing the current social and ecological crises.

“Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ urgently appeals for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet,” Sister Ethel said. “He sees a need for a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing and its human roots concern and affect us all. In other words, all of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.”

The congregation of the School Sisters of Notre Dame is an international community of women religious. The sisters educate with a world vision believing that the world can be changed through the transformation of persons. The sisters and their colleagues seek to empower women, youth and persons who are poor or marginalized and strive to change systems of poverty and injustice. More than 2,500 SSNDs minister in 32 countries.

Contact: Sister Ethel Howley, SSND | | 203-762-3318