York U committee recommends divestment from weapons and fossil fuels

An image of Vari Hall with the caption, "This Is Divestment [from weapons and fossil fuels]" An image of Vari Hall with the caption, "This Is Divestment [from weapons and fossil fuels]"Students and faculty applaud decision, call on Board of Governors to act now

TORONTO, March 23, 2017 /CNW/ - The York University Advisory Committee on Responsible Investment (YUACRI) has voted to recommend the University's divestment from arms manufacturers and fossil fuels. YUACRI was established in 2012 to integrate environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) considerations into investment management processes and ownership practices concerning York's $413 million endowment fund.

Since October 2016, YUACRI has closely examined two major proposals. The first was developed by YU Divest, a broad coalition of York students and alumni, and calls for divestment from five arms manufacturers based on their complicity in human rights abuses around the world. The second was developed by Fossil Free York, part of the growing Fossil Free Canada movement, and calls for divestment from companies involved in the extraction, processing and transport of fossil fuels based on their direct contribution to climate change and the risk that investments in fossil fuels may become "stranded" as the market becomes less viable.

In February and March 2017, YUACRI endorsed both divestment proposals and is now preparing recommendations for the University administration.

"This is truly a historic moment for York," says Richard Wellen, president of the York University Faculty Association (YUFA). "The University is now poised to align its investment practices with its institutional values of sustainability, social justice, equity and good governance. The Board of Governors should implement these recommendations as soon as possible."

If York's Board of Governors endorses YUACRI's proposals, York would become the first North American university to divest from arms manufacturers and the second Canadian university (after Université Laval) to commit to fossil fuel divestment.

"York students understand the link between human rights and climate justice," says Chenthoori Malankov, president of the York Federation of Students (YFS). "We are excited about the possibility that York could be a global leader in promoting these values, and in helping build sustainable, ethical economies of the future."

Zena Gopal, Vice-President Campaigns of the York University Graduate Students' Association (YUGSA), adds: "We commend YUACRI for its commitment to democratic and participatory policymaking at York, and look forward to its continuing efforts to develop policy that represents and enacts the values of the York University community in the coming years."

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This post originally appeared as a media release on Canada News Wire. Read the release here.