Netherlands' IMVB making good progress despite Covid-19 impact

The Covenant for International Socially Responsible Investing (IMVB) made good progress in 2020 despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Dutch Pension Federation.

Examining the covenant’s annual report, the federation stated that the first steps had been taken to expand the jointly developed set of instruments in the wide track and make them concrete, with some member parties having drawn up thematic frameworks on specific topics such as climate change, trade union freedom and animal welfare.

The covenant consists of a ‘wide track’, within which all signees work to support participating pension funds in the implementation of the OECD Guidelines and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in their policies and investment practices, as well as a ‘deep track’, which is an optional addition for funds willing to go a step further.

These deep track members work together to use their collective influence on the companies in which they invest, with issues such as mining, palm oil, platform economy and children's rights in mica mines coming under focus by the 11 deep track funds in 2020.

For example, the year saw a Peruvian mining company commit to entering into discussions with local communities before developing a new mining location or expanding existing locations following pressure from the members.

Following the conclusion of this case, the current year will see the choosing of two new cases, as well as a further progress report on the covenant’s activities in the fourth quarter.

IMVB independent chair, Femke de Vries, said: “The aim is for all pension funds, regardless of their size, to work on due diligence. The pension funds are facing major challenges in achieving the covenant targets in the coming years.

“An important gain from the past year is that trust between parties has grown, so that they can share their knowledge and expertise even better to take steps forward.”

The IMVB, which has been signed by more than 80 pension funds with approximately €1,400bn in invested assets, was launched in December 2018 and has a term of four years.

In addition to the pension funds, the covenant has been signed by the Dutch Pension Federation, six non-government organisations, three trade unions and three ministries, and aims to promote international corporate social responsibility among retirement funds.

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