One of the seven areas of inquiry identified in Building on Distinction, Brown University’s strategic plan, is “Sustaining Life on Earth.” The plan states, “We will build an academic program focused on the relationship of the environment to human societies, combing the efforts of natural, physical and social scientists, together with humanists, to understand the determinants of environmental change, alter norms of human behavior, consider ethical issues related to sustainability and develop sound environmental policies.” Brown has made significant progress building strong educational and research programs that address climate change and environmental sustainability. This is reflected in the work of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society and other units across campus, such as the School of Engineering and the School of Public Health.
In addition to supporting research and education, Brown’s commitment to sustainability should be reflected in its business and investment practices. In response to a recent proposal from the Advisory Council on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policy (ACCRIP), the President announced April 26, 2017, plans to convene a Task Force on Climate Change and Business and Investment Practices that will begin in fall 2017 and work through the 2017-18 academic year.
Charge to the Task Force
The Task Force on Climate Change and Business and Investment Practices will serve as an advisory body to the president, and will develop recommendations regarding Brown’s business operations in an effort to fully reflect the University’s commitment to environmental sustainability, with an emphasis on addressing climate change. The Task Force will focus on business and investment practices, including investments, procurement, and the choice of external vendors and contractors, as well as Brown’s participation in external organizations and initiatives devoted to environmental sustainability.
The work of this task force will complement and reinforce the efforts of Brown’s Sustainability Strategic and Planning Advisory Committee (SSPAC), which focuses on supporting sustainability efforts on the Brown campus and in the local community, and has the charge of meeting Brown’s greenhouse gas emissions targets established in 2008.
The Task Force will comprise faculty, staff, students and alumni who will:
- Advise the President on how to align Brown’s commitment to environmental sustainability and addressing climate change with the University's business and investment practices and external relations;
- Assess whether Brown’s policies and practices in the choice of external vendors and contractors reflect best practices in environmental sustainability;
- Make recommendations on guidelines for proxy resolutions concerning issues of environmental responsibility to assist ACCRIP with the fulfillment of its charge;
- Identify best practices on issues of environmentally sustainable investing for consideration by the Brown University Investment Office;
- Coordinate efforts with SSPAC; and
- Consider whether a standing committee should be established to sustain and enhance the work of the task force on an ongoing basis.
The task force will be charged in fall 2017. It will produce an interim report by the end of the fall semester and a final set of recommendations by the end of March 2018.
The membership of the Task Force on Climate Change and Business and Investment Practices will be structured to ensure the group contains expertise on the environment and climate change, knowledge of environmentally responsible investing, and an understanding of the University’s business and investment practices and fiduciary responsibilities. The committee will comprise:
- Four faculty members, two of whom are experts in the environment and climate change (the committee chair/co-chairs will be drawn from the faculty);
- One staff representative from the Brown University Investment Office;
- One staff representative from the Office of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Initiatives in the Department of Facilities Management;
- One staff representative from the Controller's Office and the Business and Financial Services department in the Division of Finance and Administration;
- One staff representative from the Office of Government and Community Relations;
- Three student representatives — one graduate and two undergraduate;
- One alumni representative.
The task force will be staffed by a representative from the Office of the President.