Group of Pension Funds Worth $1 Trillion Creates Sustainable Investing Platform

The subscriber-based online tool reviews 8,000 companies against United Nation’s sustainability criteria. 

A group of international pension funds worth about $1 trillion in combined assets has created an asset owner platform to assess companies against the United Nations’ sustainability criteria. 

Four pension funds, including AustralianSuper, the British Columbia Investment Management (BCI), and the Netherlands-based APG and PGGM, helped create the artificial intelligence (AI) platform, BCI said Monday. 

Called the Sustainable Development Investments Asset Owner Platform (SDI AOP), the subscriber-based platform currently reviews about 8,000 companies against the UN-sanctioned standards. 

An interest in sustainable investing has gained traction in the investments industry. But efforts have been hindered by metrics that investors consider either too confusing or arbitrary when applied to investment products.  

The SDI AOP platform is the latest touting cohesion and clarity in the space. The platform adheres to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) created in 2015 by the UN with a focus on issues around water scarcity, health care access, and protecting the environment. 

But other organizations, such as the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), create their own criteria to set common, auditable standards.

“Standardization of data is one of the biggest challenges facing the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) landscape,” Jennifer Coulson, ESG vice president at BCI, said in a statement. 

“For this reason, we are excited to be part of this asset-owner led initiative which sets a global standard on SDG contributions for all investors and brings consistency and comparability to company-level data,” she added. 

A call for refined ESG standards is getting louder across the globe. Late last month, the US Department of Labor (DOL) proposed that pension plans must act as fiduciaries to beneficiaries, not social causes, which would weaken ESG investing. 

SDI AOP will hold a virtual event in September to provide interested investors with additional insight. 

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