TV programme fuels Dutch SRI feverOctober 2008
A television documentary has been credited with prompting an eightfold increase in the value of assets managed along socially responsible lines over a two-year period in the Netherlands.
Latest figures from VBDO, the Dutch sustainable investment organization, show that €435billion ($616bn, £345bn) were under some form of SRI management in 2007, compared with f47bn in 2005, which represents an 825 per cent rise.
VBDO claims the increase is partly attributable to a general rise in public concern about businesses’ social and environmental performance. But much has also been due to the huge impact of a documentary on pension fund investments screened nationally in March 2007, it says.
The documentary, by the current affairs programme Zembla, caused nationwide controversy by revealing the extent of pension fund investment in polluting industries, companies with child labour in their supply chains, and businesses involved in selling landmines or cluster bombs.
VBDO said the programme had created ‘a level of media attention that was unheard of’. However, consolidation in the investment management industry had also played a part.
About €69.4bn is invested in what VBDO calls ‘core’ SRI funds with strong strategies, while the remaining €366bn is subject to broad environmental, social and governance criteria, in particular the exclusion of companies involved in industries such as tobacco and defence. SRI assets still represent a small proportion of the total under management in the Dutch pensions market, which stood at €1.09tn in 2007.
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