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SRI handbook targets pension fund trustees

UK – A new toolkit for pension fund trustees and fund managers has been published to provide advice on how to improve the impact of pension fund investment on the poorest countries in the world.

A collaboration between pensions professionals and non-governmental organisations focusing on development issues, Just Pensions offers guidance on how to design and implement a socially responsible investment (SRI) policy, says the project co-ordinator, Duncan Green.

In his introduction to the guide, Alan Pickering, former chairman of the National Association of Pension Funds writes: “ Those who care about pensions care about the world. Enlightened corporate values and shareholder value are by no means incompatible: on the contrary they constitute a powerful and sustainable relationship.
“ Simply walking away from an under-performing company is seldom an option. Improvement by engagement is increasingly the order of the day.”

The guide includes chapters on the business case for SRI, company best practice, labour standards, human rights, health care in developing countries and the legal implications of SRI.
It quotes Yve Newbold, who chaired the NAPF Committee of Enquiry into Voting Execution: “ The requirement to state in the SIP the extent to which social, environmental or ethical consideration are taken into account in investment decisions means that for all but the smallest trust funds a position of having no such policy would or could be called into question as being unsound in the climate of today’s heightened awareness of the influence of such issues on corporate reputation and value.”

Just Pensions is a project funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, managed by international development charity War on Want and fair trade organisation Traidcraft Exchange.
The advisory group includes representatives from Amnesty International, Department for International Development, Ecumenical Council on Corporate Responsibility, Ethical Investment Research Service, Friends Ivory & Sime, Friends of the Earth, Henderson Global Investors, International Business Leaders’ Forum, Jupiter Asset Management, Oxfam, Trade Union Congress, UK Social Investment Forum, Universities Superannuation Scheme, and WWF-UK.

The new amendment in the UK Pensions Act requires all UK occupational pension funds to report on the extent of their SRI policies.

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