Giant South African state pension fund backs ESG research project

“Mapping the marketplace” for sustainable investment in Africa

South Africa’s giant R929bn (€86.3bn) Government Employees’ Pension Fund (GEPF), Africa’s largest pension fund, has joined major asset managers and service providers in backing a major new pan-African environmental, social and governance (ESG) research project.

They are backing the research, which aims to “map the marketplace” for sustainable investment in Africa across all asset classes, to be conducted by sustainable investment advocacy group AfricaSIF.org (Africa Sustainable Investment Forum). A report – The AfricaSIF.org Marketplace Trends 2012 Report – is planned for mid-December.

Among other partners of the project are Investec Asset Management, Mergence Investment Managers, Old Mutual Investment Group South Africa, index and ESG firm MSCI and news and data vendor Bloomberg.
The project aims to survey more than 500 investment managers globally. It comes just over a year after the launch of the Code for Responsible Investing in South Africa (CRISA), which is chaired by the GEPF’s Head of Investments and Actuarial John Oliphant.Another key development has been the revision of Regulation 28 of South Africa’s Pension Funds Act. This outlines a fund’s duty to “give appropriate consideration” to environmental, social and governance issues.

GEPF is delighted to partner with AfricaSIF.org and other project partners in the Marketplace Trends 2012 report,” said the fund’s ESG Manager Adrian Bertrand in a statement.

“We welcome this research and are confident that it will add a fresh African perspective when surveying global trends in sustainable investment.”

The GEPF is a founding signatory to the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI); it has more than 1.2m active members and around 360,000 pensioners.

AfricaSIF.org cited research from the World Bank’s International Finance Corp. which puts the potential African ESG market at over $125bn.
Separately, the GEPF has issued a request for proposal for internal audit services. The closing date is October 25. Link to AfricaSIF.org Marketplace Trends Report