Ireland mulling report on reserve fund ethics

Ethical policy a step closer at €24.4bn NPRF

A responsible investment policy for Ireland’s National Pensions Reserve Fund has taken a step closer with the completion of a government report into the issue.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said that a report he commissioned last year has now been completed and that he will consider it “in due course”. The news came in a written answer in Parliament, the Dáil Éireann.

Lenihan set up the interdepartmental group to look into responsible investment guidelines for the NPRF in March 2009.

Lenihan said: “The approaches to ethical/responsible investment taken in other countries have been reviewed, and submissions from a number of civil society organisations have also been considered.”
Irish NGO group Dóchas, in its submission to the committee, had called on the government to allow theNPRF “to generate a sound return in the long-term while also protecting sustainable human development, both by safeguarding human rights and respecting environmental and international laws and norms”.

The fund is a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment and the Carbon Disclosure Project and already excludes companies involved cluster bomb manufacture.

The NPRF’s original remit was to maximise returns subject to prudent risk management. It hired Hermes Equity Ownership Services in 2007 to provide an environmental, social and governance overlay service.

The fund has faced pressure from campaigners over its investments in companies with links to Sudan and Zimbabwe and, most recently, on the resolutions on tar sands at the oil majors Shell and BP.