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Farmland sustainability report | 2019

We strive to align our investment and farm management activities with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UNPRI Farmland Guidelines. To this end, we track and report our progress using KPIs and audits that seek to align with global best practices.

Pathway to sustainable development


This logic model describes how we work with tenants and farm operators to invest in and manage farmland in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

The Pathway represents a milestone in a two-year process to map our sustainability efforts to the SDGs, so we could begin to measure and manage our impact. The SDGs comprise a set of 17 global goals and 169 targets aiming to drive action and global collaboration for sustainable development by 2030. Among the 17 goals, SDGs 1, 2, 6, 8, 13, and 15 are most directly aligned to Nuveen- Westchester’s investment in farming activities.

This Pathway illustrates how our investment capital, expertise and resources enable sustainable farm management activities that contribute to positive environmental and social outcomes related to specific SDGs.

 

pathway to sustainability

How to read the logic model

  • Resources outline the inputs we provide: financial, human, and material resources
  • Approach & activities show concrete actions that we, our tenants and partners take to produce specific outputs and outcomes
  • Outcomes are the SDG targets associated with short- and medium-term effects of our activities and outputs
  • Impacts are the SDGs that represent the positive and negative, primary and secondary long-term effects produced by our activities


Actively contribute

SDG-related outcomes and impacts in the top right box are those which we strive to contribute toward positively through our investment and farming activities.

Avoid harm
By contrast, those in the lower right box represent areas where our activities do not impede or negatively affect progress.

Tracking progress on the Guidelines (KPI results)

As we execute our investment strategy, Nuveen is committed to pursuing specific sustainability goals that are tied to the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) Farmland Guidelines. We have developed Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the five guidelines:

  1. Promoting environmental sustainability
  2. Respecting labour and human rights
  3. Respecting existing land and resource rights
  4. Upholding high business and ethical standards
  5. Reporting on activities and progress toward implementing and promoting the Guidelines

In adherence to Guideline Five, Nuveen has committed to report publicly on our activities related to implementing the Farmland Guidelines. This section examines our progress against the KPIs and offers commentary on notable changes.

 

KPI results

KPI 1.4 – Improvement due to additional permanent crop certifications across both existing assets and new acquisitions, notably including Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (CCSW) certification for a further 5,000 acres of vineyards in the U.S. and GAP certification of 1,600 acres of avocados in Chile.

KPI 1.6 – This fluctuation is due primarily to varying water use recording standards across new properties added to the portfolio over the period. In one region, the Yazoo Mississippi Delta (YMD) Joint Water Management District is working to manage the sustainability of irrigation water by, among other things, recommending the voluntary installation of flow meters on existing and new wells. Westchester actively participates in this program: approximately 30% of our wells in the YMD have meters installed today and we are steadily adding meters to irrigation wells across all the properties we manage in the Delta region.

KPI 2.2 – Our verification of worker health and safety practices has increased steadily in recent years, reaching 99.7% in 2018 thanks to an increase in third-party certifications during the year.

Auditing our performance in Brazil

 

Assessing environmental, social and governance practices

In 2015, Westchester conducted its first Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) audits in Brazil to monitor and enhance sustainability practices in partnership with tenants on farms.

The audit, conducted by independent third parties, formed the basis for the creation of Westchester’s Code of Conduct, a set of guidelines used to evaluate sustainability practices in the farms under management in Brazil and also in the tenant’s primary base of operations.

In 2018 another round of audits took place in Brazil, this time conducted by two independent firms — Imaflora and BSD — who visited farms, evaluated labour and environmental conditions, spoke with workers and managers, collected data and shared findings with Westchester.

In all, 23 tenants were audited in 34 operational units, representing 250,000 acres and reaching 33,579 of the tenants’ employees, about 87% permanent and the other 13% temporary. Tenants generally demonstrated high standards for environmental performance, and where issues were identified the majority related to a lack of formal procedures.

Key findings of the 2018 audits include:
  • 100% of tenants use conservation practices
  • Zero instances of child or bonded labour
  • 82% of operational units have formal procedures to prevent agrochemical drift during application
  • 99.9% of workers have a formal contract signed with their employers
  • 78% of fields were observed to have amenities for workers (portable shelters with restrooms)
  • 88% of operational units have a grievance channel available

Once Westchester receives the auditors’ formal report we share audit findings with our tenants. In cases where we see significant gaps, such as those relating to in-field amenities, we follow up with the tenant to encourage action.


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Risks and other important considerations

Farmland investments are less developed, more illiquid and less transparent compared to traditional asset classes. Investments will be subject to risks generally associated with the ownership of real estate-related assets and foreign investing, including changes in economic conditions, currency values, environmental risks, the cost of and ability to obtain insurance and risks related to leasing of properties.

This material is provided for informational or educational purposes only and does not constitute a solicitation of any securities in any jurisdiction in which such solicitation is unlawful or to any person to whom it is unlawful. Moreover, it neither constitutes an offer to enter into an investment agreement with the recipient of this document nor an invitation to respond to it by making an offer to enter into an investment agreement. 

This material may contain “forward-looking” information that is not purely historical in nature. Such information may include projections, forecasts, estimates of yields or returns, and proposed or expected portfolio composition. Moreover, certain historical performance information of other investment vehicles or composite accounts managed by Nuveen may be included in this material and such performance information is presented by way of example only. No representation is made that the performance presented will be achieved, or that every assumption made in achieving, calculating or presenting either the forward-looking information or the historical performance information herein has been considered or stated in preparing this material. Any changes to assumptions that may have been made in preparing this material could have a material impact on the investment returns that are presented herein by way of example.

This material is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. The information and opinions contained in this material are derived from proprietary and non-proprietary sources deemed by Nuveen to be reliable, and not necessarily all-inclusive and are not guaranteed as to accuracy. There is no guarantee that any forecasts made will come to pass. Company name is only for explanatory purposes and does not constitute as investment advice and is subject to change. Any investments named within this material may not necessarily be held in any funds/accounts managed by Nuveen. Reliance upon information in this material is at the sole discretion of the reader. Views of the author may not necessarily reflect the view s of Nuveen as a whole or any part thereof. 

Past performance is not a guide to future performance
. Investment involves risk, including loss of principal. The value of investments and the income from them can fall as well as rise and is not guaranteed. Changes in the rates of exchange between currencies may cause the value of investments to fluctuate.

This information does not constitute investment research as defined under MiFID.

The investment advisory services, strategies and expertise of TIAA Investments, a division of Nuveen, are provided by Teachers Advisors, LLC and TIAA-CREF Investment Management, LLC.