New policy to guide
The Australian National University (ANU) is adopted a new policy to ensure its investments are socially responsible.
The ANU Council has approved a Socially Responsible Investment Policy, which says the University will aim to “avoid investment opportunities considered to be likely to cause substantial social injury”, and “positively promote investment in securities, companies, trusts and other entities that support socially beneficial outcomes.”
Members of the ANU community have been campaigning for the university to end all investment in the coal, oil and gas industries.
The ANU's investment portfolio is valued at more than $1 billion.
ANU chancellor Gareth Evans said the university was yet to identify what kind of investments would be ruled out.
"The university is committing itself to avoid future investments that involve substantial social injury," he said.
"At the same time, [we want to] advance or promote investments that actually contribute in a socially responsible way to the community.
"Of course against that, we have to take into account the responsibility of the university to get the maximum financial return from its investments."
Mr Evans said the ANU was inviting submissions on what investments should be ruled out.
"What we've got are standards for how we'll construct our investments in the future," he said.
"I think ANU is being a leader in this respect and we are being responsive to concerns out there among students and other parts of the community."
Fossil-Free ANU spokesman Tom Swann said the group would engage with the ANU in good faith, but has concerns.
"We're very pleased to see that the ANU now acknowledges it does have a responsibility to invest with environmental and social factors in mind," he said.
"We welcome the policy as a very small step in the right direction, but we're very concerned to see that it's extremely vague.''
The ANU says a committee will monitor if investments comply with the new guidelines.
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Edition 382, 8 October 2013