The Council on Ethics for Sweden’s big four national pension buffer funds is planning to increase its involvement in biological diversity this year, according to its latest annual report.

In the 2020 report published yesterday, Christina Olivecrona, the council’s chair, and John Howchin, its secretary general, said: “After COVID-19, and with climate change now happening around us, biodiversity is coming up on the agenda.”

Olivecrona is senior sustainability analyst at AP2, which, alongside AP1, AP3 and AP4, set up the council in 2007 to use dialogue aimed at encouraging non-Swedish listed companies to improve in sustainability.

“The Council on Ethics plans to increase its involvement in biological diversity in 2021,” it said in the report.

The pair said they were pleased about how the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights had now begun to be put into practice, and that they provided concrete guidance for companies to work with.

“Maybe we could get the UN Guidelines for Business and Biodiversity based on the same structure,” Olivecrona and Howchin said.

The council gave its dialogue with firms involved in palm oil production as an example of its biodiversity work in 2020, saying that there was a big difference between the commitments firms had made on sustainable palm oil production, and their actual implementation.

“Zoological Society of London SPOTT shows in a survey covering 100 players that 71% of the companies had clear commitments to counter deforestation, but only 42% were able to provide detailed information on how they implemented their guidelines,” the council said.

Among recent moves by other major European pension funds on biodiversity, Dutch pension asset manager APG last month became the first pension investor to join the Partnership for Biodiversity Accounting Financials (PBAF), an initiative aimed at pushing financial institutions to measure, report on and set targets to improve their impact on biodiversity.

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