A member referendum held by Danish pension fund P+ has resulted in two out of four available supervisory board seats being won by candidates backed by a grass-roots climate campaign group – with one going to an activist from the group itself.

The labour-market pension fund, labelled as one for people with higher academic qualifications, announced yesterday that of nine nominated candidates, Helle Munk Ravnborg, Kathrine Ehnhuus, Peter Falkenham and Peter Løchte Jørgensen had been voted onto its board in the digital referendum.

Members had decided at P+’s spring annual general meeting to hold a member referendum to elect four of its board members.

The successful candidates of the pension fund, which was formed from a merger of the pension fund for lawyers and economists, JØP, and the pension fund for engineers, DIP,  have each been appointed for a three-year term.

They join the board’s chair and two members appointed by the professional associations behind the fund, Djøf and IDA.

Munk Ravnborg, Falkenham and Løchte Jørgensen were among the candidates proposed by the P+ board, while Ehnhuus – who is a campaign coordinator for climate lobby group Ansvarlig Fremtid (Responsible Future) – was one of the candidates put forward by the pension fund’s members.

P+ said the referendum process – which included an online debate forum – had sparked some news headlines in Denmark, and that the candidates had “clear positions” on the pension fund’s future investment strategy and responsible investments.

Kim Duus, the recently-appointed chair of P+’s board, said: “As a member-owned pension fund, it is important that the members of P+ get involved in the member democracy.”

However, only 13% of the pension fund’s members cast a vote in the digital referendum which ended just before midnight at the end of Wednesday.

Duus said P + was a broad organisation, and among the members, opinions could be divided on responsible investment, for example.

“The crucial thing for me is that we as a board can accommodate the diversity of the members,” he said.

“We must constantly strive to balance the different attitudes in the membership and build a bridge so that we accommodate as many members as possible,” he said.

Ansvarlig Fremtid, which is a group within Danish grass-roots climate organisation Klimabevægelsen and campaigns actively for pension funds and other entities to divest from fossil-fuel companies, said it had endorsed both Ehnhuus, and Munk Ravnborg.

Munk Ravnborg was already a P+ board member, having been appointed to the board of JØP in 2019 prior to the merger.

The climate campaign group said the fact that two of the candidates with green credentials had achieved the most votes, signalled that P+’s members supported the pension fund in its effort to align the investment portfolio to the Paris Agreement.

Ehnhuus said: “I am now looking forward very much to continuing the progress on climate, in the hope that P+ will continue to take the lead in the pension fund industry, by showing that responsible investments, with stringent policies on climate, human rights and handling of tax evasion, goes hand in hand with high returns.”

One of the candidates in the referendum had argued in favour of the pension fund steering clear of political activism.

Michele Marques Fejø, an independent candidate who did not win a seat, said in her bid for the role: “It is my clear belief that pension funds should not be used to promote certain politically-motivated agendas.

“Instead, we must work to ensure healthy investments that balance risk and return for the benefit of members,” she said.

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