The German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) has opened up a further line of allocation in infrastructure for pension schemes: pension funds in the NRW region can apply for a separate share of infrastructure investment worth up to 5% before the supervisory authority at the Ministry of Finance, a spokesperson for the Ministry told IPE.

Pension schemes receiving approval can build up investment in infrastructure alongside other allocation quotas, including real estate, set in the Investment Ordinance, the spokesperson added.

The investment ordinance applies to pension schemes under supervision of the state of NRW in accordance with Article 7 Paragraph 2 of the state’s Insurance Supervision Ordinance, the Ministry said. These schemes are labbled as Versorgunswerke, whcih ensure compulsory pensions for independent professions with regard to old-age, disability and survivors’ benefits.

According to this regulation, the state’s finance ministry – the supervisory authority on this matter – can authorise a deviation from the rules in the investment ordinance. The pension funds must, however, report on their entire investments, split up into new and existing investments and by a deadline decided upon by the supervisory authority.

The supervisory authority can give approval on the condition that pension schemes make further efforts on reporting with regards to allocations and development of a sustainability strategy, the spokesperson explained.

Last year NRW designed a sustainable strategy following the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The strategy is also in line with plans for sustainability set by the German government.

In the strategy NRW refers to infrastructure as traffic routes, power plants to produce energy, water supply and disposal, waste management and hospitals, information and communication technology, schools and universities.

NRW is still in the process of catching-up on digital infrastructure to bring gigabit broadband for high-speed ointernet connections, and mobile networks, to households, public facilities and businesses in urban and rural areas.

The local government has also designed a plan, which is part of its digital strategy, to accelerate the expansion of gigabit broadband network. Digital infrastructure is an “indispensable” element to support innovation, energy policies and the efforts to build green infrastructures, it said.

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