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Funds backing the Principles launched by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan double in five days
Paris, 1 May 2006 – Investment funds backing the Principles for Responsible Investment will have doubled to reach more than $4 trillion when asset owners and fund managers join the European launch of this new initiative at the Palais Brongniart in Paris on 2 May.
It is expected that further funds will pledge support for the Principles, which were officially launched by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the New York Stock Exchange on 27 April.
At the Paris event, the heads of 18 major institutional investors from nine countries, representing more than $2 trillion in assets, will sign up to the Principles. They join a group of 32 institutional asset owners representing the original $2 trillion which backed the Principles during the international launch in New York.
The Principles were developed during a nearly year-long process convened by the UN Secretary-General and coordinated by the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and the UN Global Compact.
Monique Barbut, Director of the UN Environment Programme explained: “The commitment embodied in the Principles and now supported by some of the world’s largest asset owners and asset managers is a clear signal to business and global capital markets. The USD 4 Trillions now backing the Principles confirm that the integration of environmental, social and corporate governance considerations is now an essential part of good business.”
“In fact, the Principles provide a blueprint for what is fast becoming the only way to do business in the globalizing markets of the 21st Century,” added Mme Barbut.
“The Principles for Responsible Investment forge a much-needed link between corporate responsibility and decision-making in the financial markets,” said Georg Kell, Executive Head of the Global Compact Office. “Through their focus on engagement, not divestment, the Principles represent a major milestone in our efforts to root global business in universal values to achieve a more sustainable global economy.”
In joining with institutional investors and investment managers to develop the Principles, the United Nations collaborated with some of the world’s most influential institutions – many of them public pension funds – involved in investment activities worldwide. It is estimated that pension funds alone – public and private – account for up to 35 percent of total global investment.
More than 20 pension funds, foundations and special government funds, backed by a group of 70 experts from around the world, held meetings in Paris, New York, Toronto, London, and Boston over an eight-month period to craft the Principles.
Francis Mayer, Chief Executive Officer of the Caisse des Dépôts explained: “In light of our reputation as an experienced investor, as well as our long-term vision and focus on the public interest, I naturally wanted the Caisse des Dépôts to play a role in drafting these benchmark principles set forth by the United Nations.”
Mr Mayer continued: “Our asset management policies and practice already focus particular attention on environmental, social and governance issues. We opted to take these factors into account across the board in our portfolio management, rather than limiting ourselves to a few funds invested in accordance with SRI principles.”
The six overarching Principles, which are voluntary, are underpinned by a set of 35 possible actions that institutional investors and asset managers can take to integrate environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) considerations into their investment activities. These actions relate to a variety of issues, including investment decision-making, active ownership, transparency, collaboration and gaining wider support for these practices from the whole financial services industry.
The full text of the Principles for Responsible Investment, as well as an updated list of asset owner signatories is available on http://www.unpri.org.
Additional resources from the Paris event, including high resolution photographs and additional quotes from signatories will also be available on http://www.unpri.org/.
About the Organisations:
UN Global Compact
Launched by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000, the UN Global Compact brings business together with UN agencies, labor, civil society and governments to advance ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. Through the power of collective action, the Global Compact seeks to mainstream these ten principles in business activities around the world and to catalyze actions in support of broader UN goals. With over 2500 participating companies from more than 90 countries, it is the world’s largest voluntary corporate citizenship initiative. For more information, please visit www.unglobalcompact.org.
UNEP Finance Initiative
The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) is a unique global partnership between UNEP and the financial services sector. UNEP FI works with 160 financial institutions – banks, insurers, asset managers, and pension funds – to develop and promote linkages between sustainability and financial performance. UNEP FI is the oldest and largest partnership between the UN and the global financial sector. UNEP FI promotes the adoption of best environmental and sustainability practice at all levels of financial institution operations. For more information on UNEP FI, see: http://www.unepfi.org
Paul Clements-Hunt, Head of Unit, UNEP Finance Initiative
Gavin Power, Senior Advisor, UN Global Compact Office
Matthias Stausberg, Communications Officer, UN Global Compact Office (New York)
Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, Office of the Executive Director (Nairobi)
Asset Owner and Asset Manager Signatory Contacts:
Colin Melvin, Managing Director, Hermes Equity Ownership Service, and Chair of PRI Investor Group (on behalf of BT Pension Scheme)
Paul Lee, Director of Governance and Engagement, Hermes Investment Management Contact: Nick Denton
Garance Bertrand External Relations Manager Caisse des dépôts et consignations (CDC)
Steve Waygood Director, Investor Responsibility Team Insight Investment or Catherine Battershill Media Relations Manager (Retail) Insight Investment