The Diocese of Ely is fortunate in having an investment portfolio, whose purpose is to generate income to support the ministry of the Church. The income is used to support payments of stipends to clergy (and hence clergy numbers), the work of the Board of Finance and Board of Education, and for other general purposes.
The Diocese is acutely conscious that it, and we all, owe a duty to God to act as good stewards of His creation. God created heaven and the earth, and at the time of the creation he saw that it was good (Genesis ch. 1). God placed Adam into the Garden of Eden “to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2, v. 15), which we interpret as a requirement on all Christians to be faithful keepers and stewards of His creation. Psalm 24 reminds us that the earth is not ours, but God’s, saying that “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell within it”.
Ethical Investment Policy
It is therefore incumbent on the Diocese to manage its investments in accordance with this duty. Thus, the Diocese’s Investment Policy (which is to maximise a sustainable level of income, while at the same time protecting the long term capital value of its assets) is subject to its Ethical Investment Policy, and the latter takes priority over the former.
The Diocese’s Ethical Investment Policy states that:
“The Church of England believes that taking account of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues is an intrinsic part of being a good long term investor, for both ethical and financial reasons. The Diocese of Ely has always attached great importance to investing in a way that is consistent with Christian values. The Church of England is a signatory to the UN backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), committing us to incorporating ESG issues into our investment analysis and decision making process.”
Implementation of the Ethical Investment Policy
Management of the Diocese’s investments is delegated by the Finance Committee to the Assets Sub-Committee (ASC).
The ASC’s policy is not to own or manage any stocks or shares directly, but instead to employ professional managers to do so on its behalf. The ASC meets its ethical investment duties by selecting managers who adhere to high levels of ethical standards when managing the Diocese’s assets, and who invest the Diocese’s assets accordingly.
At present, the ASC employs the following three managers:
- CCLA stands for ‘Churches, Charities and Local Authorities’. We are invested in certain of its Central Board of Finance (CBF) Church of England Funds, all of which are managed in accordance with the policies of the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group.
- EdenTree is a specialist responsible and sustainable investment manager, which has been awarded the title of ‘best ethical investment provider’ at the MoneyFacts Life & Pensions Awards for thirteen consecutive years. EdenTree is part of the Benefact Group of financial services companies (which also includes the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office), which is owned by the charity Benefact Trust, formerly called AllChurches Trust.
- Rathbones is one of the leading investment managers for charities and not-for-profit organisations in the UK. Our portfolio is ranked ‘leader’ status (the highest possible level) for its ethical, responsible and sustainable nature.
Our managers are able to apply negative screening (companies they will not invest in, on ethical grounds), positive screening (companies they are particularly attracted to on ethical, responsible or sustainable grounds) and thematic approaches to pick what they believe to be the best investments within those parameters. They also actively engage with senior management of their portfolio companies and, if they have ethical concerns, vote accordingly at company meetings.
In additional to its stocks and shares, the Diocese owns a portfolio of Glebe land, which is managed by three local firms of professional Land Agents. Almost all of this land is tenanted, mostly on historic tenancies under the Agricultural Holdings Act, where the Diocese has no ability to influence farming practices.
Environment and Sustainability
The Diocesan Environmental Task Group (DETG) has been created to advise and support parishes in matters of the environment and sustainability.
Members of the Diocesan Environmental Task Group (DETG) have produced the Ely Diocese Eco-Plan, offered for use to parishes, with the support of the Bishop. It provides tools to help parishes assess their environmental response to date and to integrate creation care action planning into the heart of their parish’s life and mission. The DETG asks that every parish makes adequate space and time to discuss this Eco-Plan in their PCC and to build ambitious creation care objectives into the ongoing life and mission of their parish.
This Plan is a framework which provides wide scope for the drawing up of different priorities according to the varying context and circumstances each parish finds itself in. There are many resources and much knowledge in the Diocese and elsewhere which can be drawn on to help with creation care action planning, so parishes do not have to re-invent the wheel. Information about resources is given at the end of this document.
Net Zero by 2030
General Synod voted in February 2020 for the whole of the Church of England to achieve net zero carbon by 2030. The vote recognised that the global climate emergency is a crisis for God’s creation and a fundamental injustice. The Synod asked for a plan to be made, setting out how to get to net zero carbon. That plan is called the Routemap. It was written by the Net Zero Carbon sub-committee of the national Environmental Working Group and went to consultation from October 2021 to February 2022 and the responses received shaped the final version. It was approved by General Synod in July 2022.
In addition, the Ely Diocesan Board of Finance (EDBF) has now fully disinvested from all direct oil and mining companies.