Essential news and insights to keep you ahead of the curve on impact investing and sustainable finance.

November 30, 2020

The Brief

Featured: ImpactAlpha Original

Updating investment 'exclusion lists' for deeper social and environmental impact. Cluster bombs and hazardous chemicals. Tobacco and firearms. Child labor and corruption. "Exclusion" lists have for decades helped investors avoid companies involved in activities that impose a negative social toll or carry significant legal or regulatory risks. Most institutional impact investors use the International Finance Corp.’s exclusion list as a reference standard to screen out the most severe cases. “An expansion of the lists to root out industries and business models that are counterproductive to impact will foster greater confidence in the investment industry as a tool for good,” writes Dmitry Fotiyev in his new role as a contributing editor at ImpactAlpha. “The process of excluding investments can be bolstered to account for the full spectrum of potentially negative economic, social, environmental and climate externalities that are counterproductive to the goals of most impact investors.” 

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Canada’s TELUS commits $45 million to corporate social impact fund. The telecommunications company launched the fund to invest in local and international impact startups focused on improving health, agriculture, the environment, and social and economic inclusion in Canada. It is looking to raise the rest of its $100 million target for the Pollinator Fund for Good from outside investors, but is prepared to commit the funds itself if others do not participate, a company spokesperson told ImpactAlpha.

Signals: Ahead of the Curve

Judge rules private prison operator can’t claim defamation by Candide Group. Citing “truth being a defense,” a federal district court judge dismissed a defamation suit brought in March by CoreCivic, one of the largest private prison operators, against Morgan Simon and her investment firm, Candide Group. Simon had called attention to CoreCivic’s role in mass incarceration and the separation of migrant families in Forbes and other forums. CoreCivic did operate detention facilities for parents separated from their children under the Border Patrol’s family separation policy, noted U.S. District Judge William Alsup, even if the company did not house the children themselves. “The allegedly defamatory statements were true enough under the First Amendment and under California defamation law,” Alsup said. The dismissal of the suit was the latest setback for private prison merchants, as banks, states and investors abandon the sector. President-elect Joe Biden vows to end contracts with private prisons, which house 70% of immigrant detainees and receive more than $1 billion per year from federal contracts.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Brian Deese, BlackRock’s global head of sustainable investing, is under consideration as director of the National Economic Council in the Biden administration, reports Politico. Cranemere’s Jeffrey Zients may become Biden’s “COVID czar”... David Bank will talk about ImpactAlpha’s “Impact On” campaign with Impact Entrepreneur’s Laurie Lane-Zucker in “Reporting on impact,” Thursday, Dec. 3… Quantified Ventures seeks summer associates in environmental finance and health and human services in Washington, D.C. or remote… The Intertribal Agriculture Council is hosting a “Resiliency through agriculture” storytelling competition, Wednesday, Dec. 9… Check out holiday gift guides from Pacific Community Ventures, SheEO, Change Labs and Backstage Capital. 

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