The Church Commissioners for England has published a report on its overall sustainability strategy for the real assets portfolio.
“We recognise the importance of sustainability in our Real Assets portfolio – both for the portfolio itself, and also as a representation of who we are as responsible investors,” said Paul Jaffe, Head of Sustainability for Real Assets, Church Commissioners for England. “This report demonstrates our approach to sustainability and shows how that translates into action on the ground.”
The portfolio covers a diverse range of assets – farmland, forestry, development land, built environment and infrastructure – totalling over £2.5bn in value. Reflecting the commitment to collaboration and engagement, the Commissioners’ team visited more than half of the farms in the portfolio, and met with tenants to discuss their businesses and environmental aspirations, and identify potential future initiatives.
The report outlines the strategic framework in approaching sustainability, lists key challenges, estimates current emissions, and gives examples of recent initiatives and next steps.
The Church Commissioners calculated that land and built environment investments are absorbing or avoiding more greenhouse gases than they are emitting. Farmland is the highest emitter, while sustainable forestry absorbs high levels of carbon. Infrastructure investments, which focus predominantly on green energy, are helping to avoid emissions and support the transition to a low carbon economy.
Sustainability is core to the Church Commissioners' approach.
In 2022, all of the Church Commissioners’ forestry investments were certified as sustainable. More than 12 million trees were planted in the last five years, doubling the area of native woodland across the Church Commissioners’ forests in the UK. Meanwhile, over £250 million has been committed to green infrastructure and social impact initiatives.
The report also notes the Church Commissioners’ ability to deliver around 30,000 new homes in England from its development land, of which roughly 9,000 will be affordable. This means the Church Commissioners has one of the largest strategic land portfolios of any private institutional landowner.