NETHERLANDS - The VB, the Dutch Association of Industry-Wide Pension Funds, has drafted a social responsible investments (SRI) manual to help pension funds inject more transparency into their investments.

Presenting the manual to industry wide pension funds at the VB member congress in Scheveningen yesterday, VB chairman Benne van Popta said: "Pension funds are institutional investors who cannot stand with their back towards the society in which they operate."

VB director Peter Borgdorff told IPE yesterday that recent uproar over investments in warfare munitions spurred his organisation to draft the manual within only a few weeks.

Surprisingly, no such guidelines existed before, he said at the conference.

VB received around 1,500 e-mails after current affairs programme Zembla claimed Dutch pension funds have invested nearly €230m in American companies that also produce cluster bombs and landmines, commented Van Popta.

The manual is a step-by-step guide showing funds how to set up a dialogue with members, how to formulate SRI principles and how to screen the investment portfolio following these principles.

Also, the VB, together with the two other umbrella organisations, the OPF (for organisational pension funds) and the UvB (for occupational pension funds), presented their action plan to stimulate expertise and professionalism among pension funds to DNB director Dirk Witteveen.

Witteveen welcomed the plan, warning pension funds that the regulator will keep a close eye whether schemes take the suggestions to heart.

The three organisations have also set up a permanent commission to stimulate pension professionalism, which in a year's time will look at the progress pension funds have made.