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Guide to responsible investing being developed for southern African funds

Comment period for draft Responsible Investment & Ownership guide

The finishing touches are being made to a draft guide to responsible investing for pension funds in southern Africa.
The final public comment period for the 83-page Responsible Investment & Ownership: A Guide for Pension Funds in South Africa ends on July 5. While designed primarily for pension funds in South Africa, it’s hoped it will be useful for funds in Botswana, Namibia and other southern African countries.
The guide is aimed at chairs, trustees and Principal Executive Officers (PEOs) who are new to responsible investment (RI) and need practical guidance. It is part of the Sustainable Returns for Pensions and Society project, an industry-led initiative to integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into mainstream investment.
The project was convened in 2011 by the Principal Officers Association of South Africa, the World Bank’s International Finance Corp. (IFC), the Government Employees Pension Fund, the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa and the Principles for Responsible Investment.It is being advised by UK-based consultants Delsus, which is headed by former IFC Sustainable Financial Markets Head Dan Siddy and Johannesburg-based economics advisor Genesis Analytics.
It comes in the wake of legislation that aims to boost responsible investment in the country, namely the revised “Regulation 28” and the Code for Responsible Investing in South Africa (CRISA).
Regulation 28 calls on pension funds to consider any material factors affecting long-term performance, while CRISA formally encourages institutional investors to integrate environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) considerations into their investment decisions.
“The investment decisions of the country’s retirement funds have a direct bearing on pensioners and the society they will retire in,” said South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. “Their size means they have unprecedented power to secure sustainable longer-term returns by insisting on high standards of environmental care, social concern, and better governance in the assets in which they invest.”