RI Briefing, September 14: Canada’s OTPP signs up to UN PRI

RI’s regular round-up of responsible investment news

The $107.5bn (€79.2bn) Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, the largest single profession pension fund in Canada, has become a signatory to the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment. There’s a recording of a conversation between UN PRI Executive Director James Gifford and OTPP CEO Jim Leech on the OTPP website. The fund had been quizzed by its members about PRI membership and its responsible investment practices.

Aviva Investors is calling for United Nations member states at the 2012 Earth Summit to commit to require companies to produce annual reports which integrate sustainability. And it wants sustainability to be put to the vote at company AGMs. The comments come in a 70-page report it commissioned from Forum for the Future called Sustainable Economy in 2040: A Roadmap for Capital Markets.

KKR, the US private equity giant, has published its annual sustainability report. “We are at the beginning of a journey, but we also understand that considering ESG issues in the private equity investment process is essential to creating sustainable value,” say co-founders George Roberts and Henry Kravis.

SNS Asset Management, the Dutch funds firm, has adjusted its policy on weapons investment, ahead of the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty, to exclude companies which trade controversial weapons. “It is important that responsible investors include these companies in a process of constructive dialogue and make use of their influence as investors, individually or in partnership with other investors, to stimulate companies to improve their levels of transparency,” say SNS’s Manuel Adamini and Yvonne Janssen.

Ecclesiastical Investment Management, Henderson Global Investors, Jupiter Asset Management and Rathbone Unit Trust Management have been awarded an Ethical Investment Association (EIA) 2011 Transparency Award. The Awards highlight best practice in responding to the European SRI Transparency Code. The EIA is the association of financial advisers from around the UK dedicated to the promotion of green and ethical investment.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Standards Organisation (ISO) to increase cooperation. The groups will leverage the activities of the two organizations related to reporting and benchmarking by business and on sustainable development by sharing information on ISO standards and GRI programs, teaming up with other partners, participating in the development of new or revised documents, joint promotion and communication.GMI Partners, the US ESG research house and Trucost, the environmental research company have partnered to incorporate Trucost data into the new GMI Analyst research platform. Trucost data includes greenhouse gases (GHGs), water, waste, pollutants and natural resource dependency. GMI is the combined entity of GovernanceMetrics International, The Corporate Library and Audit Integrity, which merged in December 2010.

The £2.6bn (€3bn) Cheshire Pension Fund has joined the UK’s Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, bringing the membership total to 54. The fund is “keen to ensure that it discharges its responsibilities with regard to corporate governance in the most appropriate and effective manner, and therefore sees the LAPFF as the key vehicle in helping it meet this objective” said Stephan VanArendsen, Cheshire’s Head of Corporate Finance. Link

Danish pensions giant ATP has launched a rival to the NEST auto-enrolment workplace pensions scheme in the UK. NOW Pensions will open for business in early 2012. The business will be run by CEO Morten Nilsson with an advisory board comprising Imelda Walsh, former Group HR Director of Sainsbury’s, trade unionist John Monks, former Government Actuary Chris Daykin, former Shadow Pensions Minister Nigel Waterson and ATP CEO Lars Rohde.

The International Integrated Reporting Committee (IIRC) has issued a discussion paper Towards Integrated Reporting: Communicating Value in the 21st Century for consultation. It presents the rationale for Integrated Reporting, offering initial proposals for the development of an International Integrated Reporting Framework and outlining the next steps towards its creation and adoption. The deadline for feedback is December 14.
Asset management firm Newton has released a report – The Dynamics of Diversity – claiming diversity at board and senior management level is essential for business success. Newton said it is “firm in its belief “ that mandatory quotas of female managers do not necessarily lead to better shareholder returns.

Dow Jones Indexes is to expand its Islamic offering with the launch of the new Dow Jones Islamic Market Global Select Dividend Index. It will measure the stock performance of leading dividend-paying companies in developed countries that pass rules-based screens for Sharia compliance.