With risk relating to Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) factors firmly on the EU agenda, there was great interest today at a Sustainable & Responsible Investment Forum (SIF Ireland) leadership breakfast event updating attendees on the revised EU Directive on Pensions (IORP II). Coming into force in January 2019, occupational pension providers will be required to evaluate their ESG risks and disclose information to current and prospective scheme members.
With scene setting provided by the IAPF, attendees then heard from leaders in the area of responsible or ESG investment, including Irish Life Investment Managers, the Irish Strategic Investment Fund, Watson Towers Willis and Sustainalytics.
The event was timely given the big boost to responsible investment in Ireland provided recently by the Central Bank, which has just awarded a €240m equities mandate to French asset management giant Amundi after only considering tenders from firms that adhere to the UN supported flagship responsible investment programme, the Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI).
The mandate, which marks the first time that the Central Bank has outsourced the management of any of its funds, has been welcomed by Sustainable Nation Ireland, the body that promotes Ireland as a hub for sustainable finance and responsible investment.
The Central Bank, with investment assets of €18.7 billion specified in the tender that applicants must be signatories to the UN PRI initiative, which has 1,750 signatories worldwide representing approx. $70 trillion in assets under management.
Commenting, Sustainable Nation Ireland Director of Sustainable Finance Laura Hueston said: “This is a tremendous boost to the mainstreaming of the responsible investment agenda within Ireland. With a tender process restricted to asset managers committed to the responsible investment agenda, with this decision the Central Bank is signaling its own commitment to responsible investment.”
Picture (L to R): Valerie Lawlor, Partner McCann Fitzgerald; Stephen Nolan, CEO Sustainable Nation Ireland; Patrick Burke, Managing Director Irish Life Investment Managers; Jerry Moriarty, CEO Irish Association of Pension Funds; Eimear Toomey, Associate Director Sustainalytics; Mike Kelly, Senior Investment Consultant Willis Towers Watson, Emma Jane Joyce, Senior Manager Irish Strategic Investment Fund.