Responsible Investing

As UTAM works to generate the required returns for the University of Toronto’s Endowment and short-term working capital assets, we consistently take into account ESG factors in our analysis and decision-making.

Responsible Investing at UTAM

Over the past several years, UTAM has worked with University of Toronto leadership to strengthen and formalize our shared commitment to responsible investing.

We define responsible investing as the incorporation of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment decision-making processes, active ownership and disclosure. We pursue this approach because we believe that material ESG factors can have a significant impact on investment returns. ESG considerations are an integral part of our investment analysis and decision-making processes, particularly in our selection of investment managers, and in our commitment to active ownership and transparency.

We have committed to following and promoting best practices, including the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). We are an active owner, applying an ESG view to proxy voting and engaging with companies on ESG-related risks. Moreover, we regularly disclose our responsible investing activities, on this website and in our annual responsible investing reports.

As UTAM’s approach to responsible investing has evolved over time, we have increasingly taken a leadership role in responsible investing, helping to identify, shape and promote best practices. Several members of our senior management, drawn from diverse areas of our organization, have assumed leadership or advisory roles on professional committees, boards and associations that are advancing responsible investing practices.

ESG Factors Defined


Factors relating to a company’s interactions with the physical environment. These include but are not limited to climate change; greenhouse gas emissions; biodiversity loss; deforestation; air, water or resource depletion or pollution; waste management; change in land use; and ocean acidification.


Factors relating to business practices that have an impact on the rights, well-being and interests of people and communities. These include but are not limited to human rights; labour standards in the supply chain; child, slave and bond labour; workplace health and safety; freedom of association and freedom of expression; human capital management and employee relations; diversity; relations with local communities (including indigenous communities); activities in conflict zones; health and access to medicine; consumer protection; and controversial weapons.


Factors relating to the governance of a company. These include but are not limited to board structure, composition, size, diversity, skills and independence; executive pay; shareholder rights; stakeholder interactions; transparency; business ethics; bribery and corruption; internal controls; and conflicts of interest.

Carbon Reduction and Divestment

UTAM’s focus on responsible investing both reflects and helps to advance the broader transition to a lower-carbon economy. As the global response to climate change becomes increasingly urgent, the University of Toronto has joined organizations worldwide in embracing carbon reduction and divestment as crucial steps in the effort to advance all aspects of sustainability. Reinforcing U of T’s leadership in this area, UTAM committed to reduce the carbon footprint of equity and equity-like investments by at least 40% by the end of 2030, compared to 2017 levels. By the end of 2020, we had achieved this target in the combined Pension and Endowment portfolios – well ahead of schedule. We have now committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions for the Endowment portfolio by 2050, with progressively more demanding targets every five years en route to net zero emissions.

As part of the University’s commitment to decarbonization, UTAM will allocate at least 10% of the Endowment portfolio to sustainable and low-carbon investments by 2025. We will divest from investments in fossil fuel companies beginning immediately. By the end of 2022, the Endowment portfolio will be fully divested from all direct investments in this sector. For those investments made indirectly, UTAM will divest from its investments in fossil fuel companies by no later than 2030 – and sooner where possible.

Responsible Investing Timeline

The following timeline shows significant events in UTAM’s responsible investing journey.

  • Became a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) on behalf of U of T’s Endowment and Pension portfolios
  • Became a signatory to CDP (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project)
  • Joined the Responsible Investment Association (RIA)
  • Initiated proxy voting under Institutional Shareholders Services’ Sustainability Policy
  • Doug Chau, UTAM’s CRO, joined the PRI’s Asset Owner Advisory Committee
  • Lisa Becker, UTAM’s COO, joined the Investor Stewardship Committee of the Pension Investment Association of Canada (PIAC)
  • Signed the Montréal Carbon Pledge
  • Published Responsible Investing Policy
  • Joined Climate Action 100+
  • Published first annual responsible investing report, covering 2016
  • Lisa Becker joined the Board of the Responsible Investment Association (RIA)
  • Received four A+ scores and one A in our first PRI assessment
  • Published the first carbon footprint of the Pension and Endowment portfolios
  • Joined the 30% Club Canada
  • Joined Intentional Endowments Network (IEN)
  • Joined Standards Board for Alternative Investments (SBAI)
  • Achieved carbon neutrality in our operating activities
  • Daren Smith joined the board of the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, of which UTAM has been a member since 2008
  • Received five A+ scores and one A in our second PRI assessment
  • Joined the International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN) and endorsed the organization’s Global Stewardship principles
  • Published our second carbon footprint report for the Pension and Endowment portfolios and announced our goal to reduce their carbon footprint by 40% compared to 2017 levels by 2030
  • Endorsed the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) on behalf of U of T – the first Canadian university to do so with respect to its Pension or Endowment funds
  • Published our 2019–2020 Responsible Investing Report, including our inaugural disclosures in line with the TCFD recommendations
  • Received the highest possible scores (A+) in our third PRI assessment, above median in all six categories
  • Daren Smith is appointed Vice-Chair, Environmental & Social Committee, of the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance; in March 2021, he became the committee’s Chair
  • Signed the RIA’s Investor Statement on Diversity & Inclusion
  • Included in the Institutional Limited Partners Association (ILPA) ESG Roadmap and Resources, a compilation of best practices that limited partners can consider implementing to advance environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing efforts at their organizations
  • Shortlisted for an International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN) 2020 Global Stewardship Award
  • Finalist in the first Pension Leadership Awards sponsored by Canadian Investment Review, in the category of Sustainable Investing
  • Joined the University Network for Investor Engagement (UNIE)
  • Partnered with Impax Asset Management to launch a new sustainability-focused investment vehicle
  • Chuck O’Reilly joined the IEN’s net zero endowment steering committee
  • Signed the 2021 Global Investor Statement to Governments on the Climate Crisis
  • Signed the Canadian Investor Statement on Climate Change as a founding signatory
  • Signed the CDP Science-Based Targets (SBTs) Campaign
  • Shortlisted for an International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN) 2021 Global Stewardship Award
  • Became a founding participant of Climate Engagement Canada (CEC)
  • University of Toronto announced its aim to divest from investments in fossil fuel companies in the Endowment portfolio by 2030, achieve net zero carbon emissions associated with the Endowment by 2050, and allocate at least 10% of the Endowment portfolio to sustainable and low-carbon investments by 2025
  • University of Toronto, in respect of its Endowment and represented by UTAM, became the first university in the world to join the UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance

Responsible Investing Policy

Responsible Investing Policy April 2022

Our comprehensive Responsible Investing Policy is designed to guide all of UTAM’s decision-making in this area and covers topics including our internal processes, proxy voting, engagement, advocacy and transparency. The policy applies to all of our assets under management.

Responsible Investing Committee

The Responsible Investing Committee oversees all matters relating to the development and implementation of UTAM’s responsible investing practices. The Committee is composed of senior leaders at UTAM and typically meets quarterly.

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ESG Integration

We believe that integrating an ESG lens into our activities allows us to make better-informed decisions and ultimately results in better outcomes for the university’s Endowment and short-term working capital assets.

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Active Ownership

As an active owner, UTAM considers ESG factors in proxy voting, engages with companies on ESG issues, and participates in advocacy efforts.

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Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI)

In December 2016, UTAM became a signatory in support of the PRI, a set of six aspirational principles designed to encourage and assist investors in integrating ESG issues into their investment processes.

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Carbon Footprint Reports

As a signatory to the Montréal Carbon Pledge, UTAM has committed to measuring and disclosing the carbon footprints of U of T’s Endowment portfolio.

Responsible Investing Affiliations

We believe that our impact is magnified when we join forces with like-minded investors. UTAM collaborates with other responsible investors on joint initiatives and advocacy efforts across Canada and around the world.

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Responsible Investing Reports

UTAM Responsible Investing Report 2020

Our responsible investing reports provide an in-depth look at how we consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in our investment analysis and decision-making processes, and how we undertake active ownership.