SPF considers sustainability to be a major aspect of the investment philosophy and an integral component of its investment principles. SPF is convinced that the sustainability policy is a way of contributing to sustainable development in the world without necessarily putting pressure on the portfolio’s risk and return profile. Please consult SPF’s website under downloads for the complete sustainability policy (PDF). The complete sustainability report (PDF) is also included in the SPF 2022 annual report.
The Board further developed the fund’s sustainability policy in 2022. For instance, SPF started measuring the carbon footprint of a part of the investment portfolio (in the asset categories shares, investment grade credits, and US high yield). In the context of European sustainability legislation (SFDR), the fund also decided to report on a set of twenty different sustainability indicators from the second quarter of 2024.
SPF held a survey among its members in 2022 regarding their Socially Responsible Investing requirements and preferences. Over five hundred of you completed the questionnaire. Member preferences concur with the fund’s policy. Members also requested more communication about sustainability. The Board is positive about the survey response. We will use the input from members to further tighten the policy in 2023.
The following six pillars are key in the SPF sustainability policy:
SPF endorses the OECD guidelines for multi-national companies and the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The fund focuses on specific social developments that are important to members and that form a high risk for the investment portfolio. Against this background, SPF aims to work particularly on the sustainability theme of climate change.
Where possible, SPF manages and evaluates investments according to ESG factors. ESG stands for Environment, Social, and Governance. The fund integrates ESG aspects in the various investment categories in which SPF invests and includes them when making investment decisions.
SPF has an active engagement program. The fund aims to encourage companies to take steps with respect to social and sustainability issues. This is done in two ways: proactively and reactively.
The objective for proactive engagement is to simultaneously encourage multiple companies (often within a given sector) to make further improvements. Reactive engagement focuses on influencing one company.
SPF has outsourced engagement to Columbia Threadneedle Investments (CTI). CTI acts as an engagement party on behalf of a number of institutional investors. The SPF engagement program focuses on holdings in real estate and other shares and holdings in the company bond portfolios investment grades and high yields.
In 2022, CTI held discussions with 442 companies from SPF’s portfolio in 39 countries. This led to positive changes (achieved milestones) 164 times. CTI achieved these milestones on topics including climate change, employment conditions, company governance, and health.
SPF uses a specific voting approach to monitor the material affairs of all listed companies and real estate companies in which the fund invests. Material affairs are affairs that will probably have a considerable effect on the company’s capacity to create long-term value. SPF’s policy for good governance focuses on protecting interests as a shareholder while at the same time living up to its responsibility in that role. Like the engagement policy, CTI also implement’s SPF’s voting policy.
In total, SPF voted at 1,257 meetings in 2022. It voted some 52 times on climate-related proposals, of which eight concerned proposals regarding the transition as a consequence of climate change.
SPF does not invest in companies that fail to act in accordance with the United Nations’ Ten Global Compact principles. The fund also excludes producers of controversial weapons such as nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, depleted uranium munitions, and white phosphorus bombs. SPF also excludes companies and countries that conduct activities that the United Nations, the European Union, or the Dutch government deem unacceptable. These are mainly issues concerning human rights and weapons. To identify companies and countries for exclusion, Sustainalytics carries out screening on behalf of the fund to establish the companies and countries in which the fund should not invest. Sustainalytics screens both developed and emerging markets on the above criteria for SPF.
At end 2022, SPF excluded some 106 companies and fourteen countries from its investment universe. As a comparison: At the end of 2021, the fund excluded some 101 companies and thirteen countries from its investment universe.
SPF publishes an Annual Report to ensure transparency about the Sustainability Policy and how it is implemented. The report indicates how the fund handled sustainability that year and the fund’s achieved results in this area. SPF also publishes an annual overview of the outcomes of the total investment portfolio on its website as well as the results of votes at shareholder meetings and the engagement policy. The SPF sustainability policy can also be found there. To conclude, the SPF Newsletter and the website regularly feature items on the sustainability policy.
SPF signed the Covenant on International Socially Responsible Investment (IMVB-covenant in Dutch) in 2018. In doing so, SPF pledged to anchor the OECD guidelines and UN Guiding Principles within the pension fund policies, outsource activities to external service providers, and monitor and report on this topic.