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Climate and social goals shape NNIP’s investments

There is a correlation between investing in businesses that aim to deliver sustainable outcomes and achieving consistently attractive returns, says NN Investment Partners.
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Prioritising investments that address climate change and inequalities in societies is in sync with positive returns. This is based on the experience of NN Investment Partners (NNIP) last year, according to its 2021 results, with the Netherlands based fund house reaching several responsible investing milestones.

For example, 37% of the firm’s assets are now managed in line with its goal of reaching net zero by 2050. NNIP also expanded its offerings of responsible investing products, including launching a new sovereign strategy to add to its green bond range.

Meanwhile, it toughened its restriction criteria to cover companies that derive more than 20% of revenue from oil sands and thermal coal, down from 30%.

“We are in this business to deliver sustainable outcomes that make a real difference in the world and to ensure that our clients see sustained long-term growth in their returns,” said Valentijn van Nieuwenhuijzen, NNIP’s chief investment officer.

Last year also saw the firm increase ESG integration to 91% of total assets, up from 74% in 2020.

Taking action

Key to the approach at NNIP in 2021 was using its influence as an active investor to steer companies in its portfolios towards more sustainable business strategies, both through engagement and by exercising voting rights.

This included: holding 49 dialogues with 21 companies on climate; and voting on 68 shareholder proposals related to the environment – and supporting 96% of them.

The firm also joined forces with international initiatives to help drive progress on critical issues such as halting deforestation and providing workers with a living wage. Notably, it took a lead in the Climate Action 100+ engagement with BASF.

 Further, it helped to foster greater corporate transparency around climate change, deforestation and water security as a participant in the non-disclosure campaign conducted by CDP, a not-for-profit organisation that runs a global disclosure system.

Social successes

NNIP also focused last year on challenges highlighted by Covid-19, such as equal access to affordable healthcare.

“We have put these issues high on our responsible investing agenda and actively support progress through our investments as well as our innovative financial-product offerings, which we plan to expand,” added Adrie Heinsbroek, chief sustainability officer at NNIP.

Achievements in 2021 included: holding 33 engagement dialogues with 33 companies on the theme of decent work; backing a call for Pfizer to provide greater disclosure on pricing and access to Covid-19 vaccines; joining investors calling on the EU to introduce effective legislation on human rights and environmental due diligence; and helping find ways to eliminate gender-based violence on palm oil plantations.

Part of Mark Allen.