One third of pension funds in the Netherlands want to prioritise biodiversity in their sustainability policies, but concrete policy goals are mostly still lacking, according to the latest VBDO benchmark for responsible investing.

VBDO, the Dutch investor association for sustainable development, published its annual benchmark on sustainable investing by Dutch pension funds on Tuesday.

According to VBDO, 39% of the 49 participating funds have now formulated CO2 reduction goals for 2025 or 2050, up from 26% a year earlier.

The top five of the list remained unchanged with the country’s largest pension fund ABP once more coming out on top, followed closely by the other four largest funds.

“Large funds have more room to design their own policies and implement them. By contrast, smaller funds are strongly dependent on their asset managers when it comes to this,” said VBDO project manager Sara Heinsbroek.

Below the surface, however, pension funds’ ESG priorities are moving from general climate awareness to more specific ESG themes such as biodiversity. More than a third of pension funds now say they specifically want to address biodiversity in their sustainability policies.

vbdo benchmark 2022

Source: VBDO

“Several funds have indicated that activities related to biodiversity, such as engagement dialogues with companies, are expected to increase over the next year,” according to Heinsbroek.

Pension funds have, however, not yet formulated concrete policy goals when it comes to biodiversity as the theme is relatively new.

Investments specifically focused on improving biodiversity also remain scarce. One of few examples is the investment Pensioenfonds PostNL made in sustainable farmland last year.

SNS Reaal rises 27 spots

With €3.3bn in assets under management Pensioenfonds SNS Reaal is an example of a relatively small fund that has been making strides in its sustainability policy.

The fund rose 27 spots this year to 9th place.

SNS Reaal implemented a major overhaul of its €418m emerging markets (EM) equity portfolio last year, ditching fossil fuel producers and replacing its three existing managers – Robeco, Vanguard and Schroders – with two ESG-branded strategies

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