World’s largest pension and sovereign funds discuss ESG collaboration at Seoul summit

Funds agree to share engagement practices in respective markets.

Some of the world’s largest pension funds gathered in Seoul earlier this month as Korea’s National Pension Service (NPS) held its International Pension Conference (IPC). Talks included greater collaboration amongst funds on ESG issues. The meeting from 11th to 13th July, brought together the heads of 37 public and private pension funds with a total asset value of $3.4 trillion. They included Takahiro Mitani, the president of Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), the world’s largest pension agency with $1,364bn in assets. Other participants included APG Asset Management of the Netherlands, Canada’s Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP). David Denison, CEO of CPPIB, said the event gave the fund an opportunity to collaborate with NPS on environment, social and governance (ESG) themes. He said that it was usually hard for CPPIB to engage with Korean companies and that the same applied to NPS when engaging companies in North America. Therefore, he said it would be mutually beneficial to share information before any engagement activity and to get domestic support. He said the fund was being increasingly succesful throughcollaboration with other global pension funds. During the three days of the conference, Jun Kwang-woo, chairman of Korea’s National Pension Service met with GPIF president Takahiro Mitani and David Denison, CEO of CPPIB, to discuss further ways developing joint investments and to reinforce strategic partnerships. This was the first time that Korea has hosted the IPC, the 40-year-old annual event of pension funds. The main agenda of the meeting was lessons and challenges of the 2008 financial crisis: successful cases of pension fund investment and future prospects for the pension fund industry. NPS Chairman Jun Kwang-woo said “The IPC Seoul 2011 is held in a timely manner as NPS is trying to strengthen its global competitiveness through diversification of its investments. Also, I hope this conference will provide the grounds to promote the development of the world economy and financial markets, and explore new directions.” NPS is considered to be one of the top 4 pension funds in the world with $300 billion in assets managed for over 3.15 million people, as of the end of April this year.

So Hyun Kim is an ESG Researcher at Sustinvest, the Korean ESG research house: Link