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APG makes sustainability call to pension funds

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EUROPE - APG Investments, the wholly-owned asset manager of the ABP pension fund, is planning to launch a global real estate sustainability survey with the University of Maastricht.

Roderick Munsters, chief investment officer, told delegates at last week's annual INREV conference in Athens the project was to provide "insight into how seriously the real estate world is taking sustainability".

The survey will cover both listed and non-listed property markets on a global basis, including office, retail, residential and industrial sectors.

Munsters appealed to other "like-minded" institutional investors to partner with APG on the project, and said fellow Dutch pension fund giant PGGM is already on board.

This survey is intended to help APG develop its sustainable strategy for its real estate portfolio, but Munsters said it would also provide "interesting results to share" with the rest of the industry.

APG operates a responsible investment policy, which it attempts to integrate into all investment portfolios, led by a team of 10 staff who work with individual portfolio managers.

Munsters said APG's responsible investment policy was not "about being green", but about improving returns and lowering the risk in its investments for its members.

"The idea behind it is not being good to the market. It's not about wanting to be green," he said.

"The thinking behind it is relatively simple: it is about making more money, or running a lower risk. There is nothing wrong with being green or having such an image, but to us the fiduciary duties that we have are all about risk and return," he added.

Munsters also stressed the importance of making responsible or sustainable investment strategies integral to investment programmes, rather than simply allocating a portion of capital to sustainability themed investments.
 
"It's not about having a pocket in your portfolio where we can show to our participants we are also spending time and effort on this," he said.

"It is to comprise the entire investment portfolio."

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