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​Swedish government urges 'ambitious' sustainability agenda

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Sweden’s government is looking to raise the bar of sustainable investment among pension funds, according to its deputy finance minister, who insisted there was no conflict between profit and sustainability.

Per Bolund, a member of Sweden’s Green Party and minister for financial markets, said the Swedish government would be examining how matters of sustainability could be better integrated into pension fund decision-making.

Speaking at the RI Europe conference in London, the MP urged investors to leave behind the perceived conflict between sustainability and profit.

“We have to see that we are in a new world where, actually, sustainability and profits are combinable – and also, if you don’t take sustainability into [consideration] when you do the investment decision, you will lose out on profits in the future.”

He also offered the country’s continued growth – despite legislating for the highest carbon price worldwide – as a way to “debunk the unfortunate misunderstanding” of a conflict between sustainability and profit.

He argued that Sweden was moving in the right direction, but that “much more” needed to be done.

“We, at the moment, are looking at the legislation that is governing the pension funds in Sweden – both looking at how they are structured, but also looking at the sustainability agenda and trying to raise the bar and making a more ambitious agenda for sustainably when it comes to pension fund investments.”

Bolund, who was named deputy finance minister in 2014, repeatedly praised the work done by his country’s AP funds in measuring their carbon footprint, but also highlighted that the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global had gone further after being instructed to divest its holdings in coal.

“So, we see this as a process going on in many countries and in many pension funds around the world, and I think we have the opportunity to be a big part of that and also lead the way for others,” he said.

AP4 has previously led efforts to lower its carbon emissions by working with Amundi on a low-carbon equity index, with the endeavor supported by Fonds de Réserve pour les Retraites.

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