Sustainable Munis for Stronger Communities: Impact Report

By Michael Cohick
Director, Product Marketing
Van Eck Associates Corporation

How much impact does an investor make when they invest in sustainable municipal bonds? We explore in this report.

All municipal bond issuances finance projects all over the country. However, only some of those bonds can be qualified as having a positive environmental, social and governance (ESG) impact, promoting a pathway towards sustainable development. But how much impact does an investor make when they invest in sustainable municipal bonds? In this impact report, we highlight the current and future positive impact potential of the top ten holdings and the portfolio summary of the VanEck HIP Sustainable Muni ETF (SMI).

SMI offer investors a way to build a sustainable core muni portfolio without significantly affecting risk and return, over the long term. SMI provides access to a diverse group of issuers at both the state and local levels, who are proactively investing in solutions that fund operations or projects that support or advance sustainable development, as well as promote positive social and environmental outcomes or mission accomplishment.

VanEck HIP Sustainable Muni ETF (SMI)

  • Broad muni exposure with a focus on sustainability (ESG, UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), climate threat resilience and a focus on opportunity zones)
  • Core portfolio of investment-grade tax-exempts with intermediate duration
  • Managed to maximize sustainability exposure while seeking to maintain benchmark characteristics

View Report

Who Is HIP: R. Paul Herman, CEO and Founder of HIP Investor, shares what sparked the founding of HIP and its approach to measuring future risk, return potential and net impact on society.

Originally published by VanEck on April 22, 2022.

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This is not an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation to buy or sell any of the securities mentioned herein. The information presented does not involve the rendering of personalized investment, financial, legal, or tax advice. Certain statements contained herein may constitute projections, forecasts and other forward looking statements, which do not reflect actual results, are valid as of the date of this communication and subject to change without notice. Information provided by third party sources are believed to be reliable and have not been independently verified for accuracy or completeness and cannot be guaranteed. VanEck does not guarantee the accuracy of 3rdparty data. The information herein represents the opinion of the author(s), but not necessarily those of VanEck.

HIP Ratings are produced and licensed from HIP Investor, Inc. (“HIP” or the “Data Provider”), which provides services to evaluate, rate and rank issuers and their securities based on data-driven, quantitative performance measures that demonstrate positive social, environmental and economic outcomes or mission accomplishment. The Adviser’s investment process begins by using HIP Ratings to screen municipal securities based on their SDGs 9, 11 and 12 ratings by HIP, Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) ratings by HIP and Climate-Threat and Resilience ratings by HIP. HIP Ratings are only assigned to the municipal securities of issuers where at least one qualified opportunity zone is located in the issuer’s region. An “opportunity zone” is an economically-distressed community where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment based on certification from the Internal Revenue Service. HIP, as the Data Provider, analyzes multiple data points of municipal securities to determine an estimate of the impact (i.e., net benefit to the community) each municipal security provides. The HIP Ratings used by the Adviser seek to evaluate the impact of municipal securities with respect to the goals and metrics defined by SDGs 9, 11 and 12, climate resilience, and overall net benefit to people, planet, and prosperity. These HIP Ratings are used by the Adviser to narrow the universe of eligible Fund investments to municipal securities that, based on the HIP Ratings, the Adviser believes have been issued to fund operations or projects that support or advance sustainable development, as well as promote positive social and environmental outcomes. Such municipal debt securities may include, but are not limited to, bonds issued in connection with (i) new or revitalized infrastructure (i.e., roads, bridges, tunnels, buildings, transportation of people and freight, affordable and safe housing and redevelopment of urban areas (e.g., green spaces), school or campus upgrades and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (“LEED”) qualified real estate); (ii) information and education systems (i.e., schools, research, financial services, communication services and technologies and information services); (iii) healthier communities (i.e., hospitals, food and nutrition infrastructure, waste systems, air quality and environmental management systems); (iv) cleaner energy (i.e., utilities, resource and material use); (v) inclusive and sustainable industrialization towards increased gross domestic product (“GDP”); (vi) action and resilience planning and projects to mitigate the effects of climate change and other natural disasters and hazards; and (vii) ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns.

© 2006-2022 HIP Investor Inc. All Rights Reserved. The information contained herein: (1) is proprietary to HIP Investor and/or its content providers; (2) may not be copied or distributed; and (3) is not warranted to be accurate, complete or timely. Neither HIP Investor nor its content providers are responsible for any damages or losses arising from any unauthorized use of this information. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. All investing entails risks.

ESG investing is qualitative and subjective by nature, and there is no guarantee that the factors utilized by VanEck or any judgment exercised by VanEck will reflect the opinions of any particular investor. Information regarding responsible practices is obtained through voluntary or third-party reporting, which may not be accurate or complete, and VanEck is dependent on such information to evaluate a company’s commitment to, or implementation of, responsible practices. Socially responsible norms differ by region. There is no assurance that the socially responsible investing strategy and techniques employed will be successful.

ESG integration is the practice of incorporating material environmental, social and governance (ESG) information or insights alongside traditional measures into the investment decision process to improve long term financial outcomes of portfolios. Unless otherwise stated within the Fund’s investment objective, inclusion of this statement does not imply that the Fund has an ESG-aligned investment objective, but rather describes how ESG information is integrated into the overall investment process.

The Fund’s strategy of investing in municipal debt securities of issuers promoting sustainable development may limit the types and number of investments available to the Fund or cause the Fund to invest in securities that underperform the market as a whole. As a result, the Fund may underperform funds that do not have a sustainable investing strategy or funds with sustainable investing strategies that do not employ HIP Ratings. In addition, the Fund relies on the Data Provider for the identification of issuers that promote sustainable development based on their HIP Ratings; however, there can be no guarantee that the Data Provider’s methodology will align with the Fund’s investment strategy or desirable issuers can be correctly identified. Moreover, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”) 9, 11 and 12 may be modified or abandoned in the future and there can be no guarantee that the Fund will be able to continue to use HIP Ratings or find an appropriate substitute ratings system.

An investment in the Fund may be subject to risks which include, among others, risks related sustainable impact investing strategy, municipal securities, credit, interest rate, call, data, California, New York, education bond, health care bond, housing bond, transportation bond, management, operational, authorized participant concentration, absence of prior active market, trading issues, market, fund shares trading, premium/discount and liquidity of fund Shares, non-diversified, state concentration risks all of which may adversely affect the Fund. Municipal bonds may be less liquid than taxable bonds. There is no guarantee that the Fund’s income will be exempt from federal, state or local income taxes, and changes in those tax rates or in alternative minimum tax rates or in the tax treatment of municipal bonds may make them less attractive as investments and cause them to lose value. Capital gains, if any, are subject to capital gains tax. The Fund’s assets may be concentrated in a particular sector and may be subject to more risk than investments in a diverse group of sectors.

Investing involves substantial risk and high volatility, including possible loss of principal. An investor should consider the investment objective, risks, charges and expenses of the Funds carefully before investing. To obtain a prospectus and summary prospectus, which contain this and other information, call 800.826.2333 or visit Please read the prospectus and summary prospectus carefully before investing.