Dutch asset managers APG and PGGM are developing an artificial intelligence (AI) based asset owner platform to assess potential “sustainable development investments” (SDIs).

They said that the vehicle – to be launched in the first quarter next year – would offer insight into how investable companies contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The asset managers said their goal was to achieve a critical mass of asset owners investing in companies contributing positively to the SDGs.

The platform is to use “tailor-made cutting-edge technology”, developed by APG, which combines detailed SDI taxonomy with AI to enable investors to assess approximately 10,000 listed investments for their contribution to the SDGs, they said.

It will work with Entis, a technology subsidiary of APG, to analyse data and identify SDIs aimed, for example, at solving water scarcity, providing decent healthcare, ending poverty and protecting the environment.

APG and PGGM – which manage more than €700bn of pension fund assets between them – said the SDI Asset Owner Platform would enable asset owners to use a common definition, taxonomy and data source for making sustainable investments.

APG – the asset manager of the civil service scheme ABP – started developing the AI-based approach in 2016, in order to serve its clients’ ambitions on sustainable investing. ABP aims to allocate €58bn to sustainable investments by next year.

“We would like our peers to join us on this platform,” said Claudia Kruse, managing director and head of APG’s team for global responsible investment and governance.

Since APG and PGGM published an SDG taxonomy in 2017 , they have translated it into an SDI classification for individual listed companies, supported by additional in-depth research.

sdg investability

The two companies said the platform would also improve engagement with companies and stakeholders “as asset owners will speak with companies with one voice, and can provide stakeholders with comparable reports on how they invest in and contribute to the SDGs”.

Hans op ‘t Veld, PGGM’s head of responsible investment, said the platform would provide further standardisation and efficiency for PGGM’s sustainable investment as well as for companies to report on their contribution to the SDGs.

David Russell, head of responsible investment at the UK’s Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), said that the pension fund was looking forward to working with the SDI Asset Owner Platform in assessing its exposure to and support for the SDGs.

Cbus, Australia’s leading scheme for the construction sector, said it “encouraged initiatives that contributed to translating the SDGs into investable opportunities”.

Further reading

PRI in Person: Danone CFO calls for new investor mindset about value
Investors’ approach to value creation could be a drag on efforts to achieve global sustainable development goals, says Cécile Cabanis

APG, PGGM set out investment routes to UN development goals
Two of Europe’s largest investment managers identified investment opportunities linked to 13 of the UN’s 17 SDGs, in work published in 2017