Learn about our main areas of progress in fossil fuel divestment, climate-positive investments, socially positive investments and Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) reporting.
Why is responsible investment important?
We have a significant investment portfolio.
Responsible investment gives us the opportunity to do good in the world and minimise harm.
These investments can also receive good, competitive, sustainable returns in a financial sense, over the long term.
- Responsible investment takes into account environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors
- Focuses investment on projects which have positive social value, improve the world around us, and help to provide opportunities for all
- Thinks in long-term rather than short-term gains
Responsible investment underpins our Strategy 2030 vision and purpose to make the world a better place by addressing tomorrow's greatest challenges.
The University is seen as a global leader in responsible investment.
Divestment sees the University remove direct and pooled investments in companies involved in the extraction and production of fossil fuels such as coal, tar sands, oil and gas from its portfolio.
The University announced completing its divestment on Thursday 25 February 2021.
Since 2017 the University endowment fund has committed to invest up to £60m in renewable energy and sustainable technologies, and has reduced the carbon footprint of our equity investments by over 70%.
In 2020, the University invested £5 million in green projects after becoming the first university in the UK to sign up for HSBC’s green deposits programme.
In December 2019, the University approved a new Social Enterprise and Social Investment Strategy that sets out the University's vision to be recognised as the leading UK university for social enterprise and investments by the academic year 2023-24.
Our social investments include:
- Big Issue Invest & Power Up Scotland
- Fair by Design Fund
- Scottish Social Growth Fund 2
- Prosper Social Finance
- Edinburgh Local Community Grants
The University increasingly manages its investments to support environmentally and socially positive activities, thus contributing to a more sustainable global financial system. One of our strengths is that this approach is fully incorporated into the University's strategies and plans:
- Strategy 2030: the University's strategy for 2020-2030
- The Social and Civic Responsibility Plan 2020-2030: a key area of focus for the University in the next decade, encompassing the University's ambitions to become zero carbon and zero waste university and to work with local communities
- The Sustainability (and Social Responsibility) Policy 2020: setting out the University's commitment to sustainability (and social responsibility)
- Zero by 2040, our 2016 climate strategy which sets out how we will become carbon neutral by 2040
In 2013, we were the first University in Europe to become a signatory of the UN's Principles of Responsible Investment, now known as PRI. We report annually on our progress.
The University first created a Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) policy in 2003 which was revised in 2006. This policy sought to protect and enhance the long term value of the fund by ensuring the University was a responsible investor. The University's approach was then updated in 2016 to our Responsible Investment Policy Statement, which is overseen by the Investment Committee.
What we don't invest in
In addition to fossil fuels, the University does not invest in:
- tobacco stocks
- Ultra Electronics, a British company serving the defence market
- controversial armament investments, such as anti-personnel mines or chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
Read our current list of investments for more information.