SYDNEY: The Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) today urged stakeholders in Universities all over the world to demand major changes to the governance in the wake of the Monashgate scandal in Australia and the emerging resistance to transparency amongst the world’s leading Universities.
AODP Chair Dr John Hewson, himself a Preofessor at ANU said “This is the tip of the iceberg regarding institutional resistance to the transparency that would prove that these Universities and other institutions are taking some huge gambles on a nice gentle transition to the low carbon economy -and they have no Plan B if they are wrong.” Earlier this week, it was revealed that Australia’s 8 premier universities had apparently colluded in a botched attempt to avoid scrutiny over their long term investment strategies that would include a plan for dealing with the financial risks of climate change.
This information was inadvertently supplied by Monash University just hours after a request by AODP for such disclosure from 300 Universities around the world. It has since emerged that Oxford and Cambridge Universities have also refused to disclose.
“These Vice Chancellors and their investment officers are trusted with this money that doesn’t belong to them – they have a duty to avert the risks to that money posed by climate change,“ Dr Hewson said.
“Universities are multi stakeholder societal bodies that are supposed to be leading the thinking on how to manage this difficult low carbon transition. They have staff, students, alumni all working to assist the transition whilst their own Universities are refusing to acknoweldge the investment risks to the universities endowment – it’s extraordinary.
“A series of serious questions now have to be answered on what degree of similar collusion is preventing transparency amongst other institutions such as pension funds? Have they all decided to keep quiet about the gambles they are taking with the money entrusted to them to manage carefully?” he said.
“The refusal of many funds to even disclose to their own members shows the sheer scale of institutional resistance. Just how long can they hope to defend the indefensible?
“We have suspected for some time that these Universities and other institutions are putting long term stakeholder capital at risk by relying on short term markets – how quickly they seem to have forgotten the sub prime chaos.
“The Universities now have a choice – to battle all of their stakeholders who are not going to back down, or come clean and disclose their current position whilst committing to moving towards a more sustainable investment path for their Universities endowments,“ Dr Hewson said.
The 2014 Global Climate Investment Index can be accessed here: www.AODProject.Net