The Dutch zembla programme has had “not only a huge influence on the Dutch pension sector, but also around the world.” – Jan Willem van Gelder In 2007, the Dutch Foreign Affairs Programme Zembla made a presentation on Dutch pension funds and found investments of nearly 230 million euros in American companies manufacturing cluster bombs and landmines, as well as in companies that used child labour. On the other hand, the Dutch central bank DNB has taken a leading position in sustainable financing, not only in the Netherlands, but also internationally. It was the first central bank to join the PRI earlier this year and produced an eight-page responsible investment charter for its reserves. And he is one of the first regulators to test his country`s financial sector in climate stress. Herman Mulder, former managing director and group risk director at Dutch bank ABN AMRO and co-founder of the True Price/Impact Institute, said: “This is at the beginning of the development and it is an opportunity for us financial institutions to steer the funds in a direction that creates not only a tax infrastructure for the overall viability of the Netherlands, but also social infrastructure. ESG remains an unpopular investment strategy in Switzerland. How will it overcome this lack of enthusiasm? Eumedion`s 65 members are all expected to follow the code, including major Dutch investment names such as PGGM, APG, MN and Robeco, as well as major international investors such as BlackRock. More than 70 major Dutch pension funds, with total assets of nearly 1.2 million euros, have contracted with non-governmental organisations, trade unions and the Dutch government to invest in sustainable investments around the world. Mr Profundo, a Dutch advisor on sustainable development research, worked with Zembla on the programme. Jan Willem van Gelder, profundo director, said: “It has had a huge impact not only on the Dutch pension sector, but also around the world. It eventually led to a ban on investment in cluster munitions in the Netherlands and other countries since then. Join us on January 29, where we will discuss the main objectives of Confederation, practical reflections on pension funds and MSCI`s solutions to meet this important commitment.
Bakkum says the cost of regulatory capital is very high for illiquid investments in emerging countries, but says regulators like DNB have expressed a willingness to talk about capital charges: “I think it all comes down to leadership. Dutch pension funds should make fewer announcements and have more real impacts. “Dutch pension funds have been at the forefront of responsible investment, but less so in impact” – Yvonne Bakkum, FMO The influence of the financial sector in general on the energy transition is an important point on the national and European agenda. Pension funds thus play a leading role in ensuring a good retirement in a sustainable world. Through this agreement, the signatory funds have chosen an approach based on OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises and the UN`s guidelines on business and human rights (UNDP) to identify, prioritize and address these esG risks. In this agreement, the ESG risks relate to risks to society and the environment. Mr Profundo also helped develop a 13-year initiative with VBDO, the Dutch association of viable investors, to put the 50 largest pension funds in the Netherlands on responsible investments.