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Dutch pension funds pledge to invest in a socially responsible way

posted onDecember 20, 2018

Today 73 Dutch pension funds which together represent €1,180bn in invested assets signed a covenant pledging to invest their money more responsibly.

The covenant is known as an IRBC agreement and involves partnerships between 
public authorities, trade unions and NGOs to prevent exploitation, animal suffering and environmental damage.

A pension fund that invests in a listed company may undesirably be faced with negative effects of that company (or the chain behind it) on society or the environment. Under the IRBC covenant, which embeds  OECD guidelines and the UN guidelines, pension funds will gain a clearer picture of the places where risks and impacts occur relating to human rights violations or environmental damage. 

By using this information, they can reduce risks and exert their influence to tackle problems.

“Pension funds invest the money earned by hardworking Dutch people… but we want to do more than provide them with a good pension,” Shaktie Rambaran Mishre, chairman of the Dutch pension federation said in a statement. “We also want them to be able to enjoy a clean, safe world. Through our investments we can exert influence on companies and they way in which they deal with people, animals and the environment.”

In addition to the 73 pension funds and the Federation of the Dutch Pension Funds (Pensioenfederatie) which promotes the pension interests of 5,5 million participants, 3,2 million pensioners and 9,6 million early leavers, signatories include Minister of Finance Wopke Hoekstra, Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag, Minister of Social Affairs and Employment Wouter Koolmees,  the trade unions FNV (Dutch Federation of Trade Unions), CNV (National Federation of Christian Trade Unions in the Netherlands) and VCP (Trade union federation for Professionals); and the NGOs Oxfam Novib, PAX, Amnesty International Netherlands, Save the Children  Netherlands, World Animal Protection and Natuur & Milieu (Nature & The Environment).

The  agreement was arrived at with guidance from the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER), the main advisory body to the Dutch government and the parliament on national and international social and economic policy. With this new agreement, signatories will work within the financial sector on international responsible investment. Earlier agreements have been reached with banks and insurers. 

Agreements on International Responsible Business Conduct (IRBC) have also been signed in the Garments and Textile, the Food Products and the Gold sectors. Talks are still going on among others with the Natural Stone, Floriculture and Metallurgy sectors.

Under the new agreement, parties will work together on six projects. The first case will be made known in January. 

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