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Mayor Walsh commits to sustainable, activist, investment policy in the City of Boston

February 28, 2019

Mayor's Office

Published by:

Mayor's Office

The City of Boston will encourage environmental, social, governance (ESG) investments, community bank deposits; and join the Ceres Investor Network, which facilitates shareholder activism

Building on his commitment to financial security and sustainability in the City of Boston, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced two initiatives in Boston's updated cash investment policy. The Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) Investment Initiative will commit up to $150 million of the City's operating funds to be invested in the short-term fixed income securities of companies that maintain strong corporate ESG practices. The new policy also includes Boston's Community Bank Investment Initiative, which will commit at least $100 million of its operating funds to be deposited in Boston's community banks and local financial institutions. The City's operating funds consist of revenue held in short-term investments until needed for budgeted expenditures.

 

Additionally, to further advance Boston's national leadership on sustainable investing, Boston will work with Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit organization headquartered in Boston that works with institutional investors and influential companies to build leadership and drive solutions. Through powerful networks and advocacy, Ceres tackles the world's biggest sustainability challenges -- including climate change, water scarcity and pollution, and human rights abuses. In joining the Ceres Investor Network, Boston will work alongside 165 other institutional investors representing over $25 trillion in assets to advance investment practices, corporate engagement strategies and policy solutions.

"In Boston, we're committed to ensuring that as our city grows and creates opportunity for all, we're using our assets to promote sustainable and responsible investments," said Mayor Walsh. "By joining the Ceres Investor Network and using our assets to invest in community banks and commit to our ESG initiative, we're putting our money where our values are -- a stronger, more equitable city and world for all."

Boston, a city planning for the impacts of climate change, is committed to leading in the sustainability space. Boston is committed to taking a proactive approach to effect positive change in the short-term while continuing to determine the best way to move toward a longer-term plan.

Examples of success in corporate engagement include the 2018 resolution filed by the New York State Comptroller's Office asking American Electric Power to adopt company-wide targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The result of this engagement was withdrawal of the resolution in exchange for a public commitment by the company and published business strategy to cut, by 60 percent from its 2000 levels, its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 with the long-term goal of becoming carbon neutral. Also, in engaging Xcel Energy in 2017, investors were able to receive a public commitment by the company to delivering 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050.

"The Mayor has prioritized making responsible investments in our values and in our neighborhoods," said Emme Handy, Chief Financial Officer for the City of Boston. "These initiatives further strengthen that commitment, while continuing the strong fiscal management practices that have earned us a Triple A bond rating."

"Ceres welcomes the City of Boston to the Ceres Investor Network and the contribution the City will make to advance sustainability through ESG investment practices," said Mindy Lubber, CEO and President of Ceres. "Climate change poses one of the greatest risks to our city and economy, and its impacts are already evident in our coastal communities. By joining our network, Boston will be able to leverage the influence of its investment portfolio to accelerate the low-carbon transition, sustainable water practices, and equitable workplaces."

These commitments build and strengthen the Walsh Administration's commitment to financial stability throughout the City of Boston. Earlier this month, Mayor Walsh announced Boston has maintained its perfect AAA bond ratings, as assigned by Moody's Investor Service and S&P Global Ratings. The City has maintained the top credit ratings from both rating agencies since 2014.

These ratings build on Mayor Walsh's commitment to financial responsibility throughout the City of Boston. Over the past five years, Boston's revenue has grown by 25 percent, and the city has added 20,000 new jobs each year, produced nearly 28,000 new homes, and added over $9.3 billion of development in construction. 

S&P Global Ratings cites Boston's "very strong" economy as reason for its AAA rating. Contributing to Boston's strong economy is its talented, diverse workforce; longstanding financial and insurance industries, as well as the city's growing reputation as a tech hub; central location; and recruitment and retainment of college graduates in the city.

In addition, S&P also highlighted Boston's history of proactively addressing future challenges through the city's long-term plans. Included in these highlights are Boston's Climate Action Plan, which addressing goals for reducing greenhouse emission by 2050; Climate Ready Boston, which develops resilient solutions to prepare Boston for climate change; Go Boston 2030, which aims to ensure equitable, reliable and safe transportation for all residents; and Housing a Changing City, Boston's housing plan which already is well on its way to creating 53,000 new units of housing by 2030.