PFZW sold its stakes in about 60 gambling firms last year, according to the fund’s annual report. The decision comes after a survey showed that a majority of the fund’s members wanted it to divest from the gambling industry.

PFZW, the Netherlands’ second-largest pension fund with €242bn in assets under management, has now pledged it will no longer invest in companies with more than 1% turnover from direct gambling products or services. The €600m of investments that were subsequently sold is equivalent to about 0.3% of the portfolio.

A member survey by civil service scheme ABP, the country’s largest pension fund, also showed last year that half of members wanted the fund to divest from gambling firms. At the time, ABP did not immediately act on the results of the survey. But in March this year, the fund then decided to place gambling firms on its exclusion list, citing the earlier member survey as a reason.

Country exclusions

PFZW has also set stricter criteria for its government bond investments, based on data from the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index and Freedom House reports.

The fund only invests in government bonds or companies of countries that meet the minimum standards of these organisations for democratic governance and freedom.


Last year, PFZW’s board chose ‘Biodiversity and Nature’ as its third impact theme, alongside ‘Climate’ and ‘People and Health’. For climate, the fund has formulated a concrete goal: by 2030, PFZW must have demonstrably avoided 15 megatons of CO2 through impact investments. How this impact will be measured is still under investigation. For the other two impact themes, the fund has not yet formulated targets.

To meet its climate impact target, PFZW has started four new mandates. The Climate Energy Transition Solutions mandate, in which it aims to accelerate the energy transition through direct investment in private companies and projects; an infrastructure strategy; and a global corporate sustainability mandate that includes both investment grade and high yield debt.

The firm’s listed equity mandate with Sustainable Development Investments (SDI’s) should also contribute to its impact target.

In its annual report, PFZW said pension regulator DNB had critical comments on the way the fund was measuring ESG risks, establishing indicators and determining the effectiveness of these indicators.

In an reaction to DNB’s criticism, PFZW noted that its measuring of ESG risks is evolving, saying: “The presence of ESG data is increasing due to European CSRD [Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive] legislation, for example, but for us it is not yet at the level we would like. We are working hard to improve this further, but are not there yet.”

This article was first published on Pensioen Pro, IPE’s Dutch sister publication. It was translated and adapted for IPE by Tjibbe Hoekstra