Dutch corporate funds progress on ESG but fall short of parents’ CSR policies: report

Benchmark compares company funds with industry-wide and public schemes.

Dutch corporate pension funds are making progress on ESG factors – though they still lag their industry-wide and public pension fund peers, according to a pension fund benchmarking report from VBDO, the Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development. VBDO, in association with consultancy, Profundo, and with the backing of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, surveyed 51 pension funds – corporate, industry-wide and public – for its third report on responsible investment. Notably, VBDO said the pension investment policies of major Dutch corporations companies such as Ahold, and Akzo Nobel lagged the commitment of their parent sponsor to issues of green initiatives and sustainability. Giuseppe van der Helm, VBDO executive director: “It’s a positive sign that pension funds, despite the ongoing financial crisis, are making progress in creating and implementing a responsible investment policy. It’s remarkable though that corporate pension funds lag behind industry-wide and occupationalpension funds for the third year in a row. Especially as some pension funds are linked to corporations that are active in corporate (social) responsibility.” The report found that 33 of the surveyed funds had excluded investments in the controversial weapons industry and individual weapons companies, while 14 had excluded companies on other grounds, such as child labour and environmental pollution. Fifteen pension schemes said they make explicit use of ESG criteria in selecting investments while 27 address the issue of corporate responsibility in their contacts with companies. For 38 schemes, sustainability plays a role in their voting behaviour at shareholder meetings. The report said 20 of the funds were investing small amounts of assets in sustainable energy, innovative clean technology and microfinance. The majority of responding funds said their responsible investment policy only covered equities, while 35 of the 51 do not publish a list of their equity holdings.
Link to VBDO site