Italian pension funds association Assofondipensione has laid out for the first time proxy voting guidelines on ESG for annual general meetings (AGMs) as part of its shareholder activism platform set up with Frontis Governance.

Pension schemes will cast their vote looking at whether companies have adopted clear plans to fight climate change, consistent with business development strategies, and reporting transparently on measures taken to achieve the goals, according to the guidelines.

The protection of biodiversity and water resources, the environmental and climate impacts of the value chains, circular economy and efficient waste management also play a role for pension schemes when voting at AGMs.

Social aspects taken into account include the protection of human and labour rights along the entire value chain, and consistent with the characteristics of the industry, discrimination, and the idea of a fair energy and technological transition without impacts on employment and the economy, it added.

On governance, the schemes will look at possible conflicts of interest, shareholders rights, diversity, remuneration, corruption, tax evasion and avoidance, it added.

A working group established within the association with representatives of pension schemes designed the guidelines last December.

The working group monitors how effective are both the voting policy and the guidelines, which may be subject to changes, with the review that can take place after the AGM season, or at the end of the year, to prepare for the following year.

Assofondipensione, through its voting platform, custodian banks and the proxy advisor, keeps track of all the votes cast on behalf of each scheme, and the proxy advisor prepares a report with all the activities, analysing meetings and voting.

Giovanni Maggi, president of Assofondipensione, told IPE that approximately 14 pension funds with assets under management of around 27bn are taking part in the project.

Laborfonds, the pension fund for the employees in the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol region, has announced its active participation to the project as of 28 March.

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