NETHERLANDS - The number of Dutch pension funds adopting a socially-responsible investment (SRI) policy has more than doubled since 2006 to 73% of all schemes, the combined pensions organisations have claimed.

A further 10% of schemes are understood to be developing an SRI policy, according to VB, OPF and UvB, who surveyed 90 of their members, in turn representing 80% of Dutch pension funds' assets.

Of the participating schemes, 37 said they had fully implemented a responsible investment policy, while another 21 were in the process setting up SRI rules, the investigation found.

In contrast, 13 pension plans indicated they had decided to refrain from implementing an SRI policy, after having discussed the issue among officials.

Seven schemes said an SRI policy was low on their priory list, while three argued they had decided against such a strategy as they did not believe the approach would benefit their stakeholders.

"However, some pension funds without their own rules indirectly followed the principles through the policy of their external asset managers," the pensions bodies noted.

Almost all pension funds with assets of over €1bn were found to have an SRI policy in place.

The survey further also revealed that excluding companies as an investment is the most commonly applied SRI instrument, with voting and engagement in second and third place respectively.

According to VB, OPF and UvB, at least 56 pension funds have linked their investment policy with UN Global Compact policy, which focuses on human rights, labour conditions, the environment and corruption.

Of those schemes applying SRI, 26 said they have developed their own SRI policy or have formulated additional rules to the UN Global Compact, the pension bodies said, while 16 pension plans as well as almost all large Dutch asset managers have underwritten the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI) into their investment strategy.

And at least four asset managers and pension providers offer their clients a standardised policy for SRI.

The study conducted the Dutch pensions representative bodies follows an earlier report entitled The Future has Arrived in 2007, in which they appealed to pension funds to formulate a policy on SRI.

VB, OPF and UvB will review the market again in 2012.

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