(New York, 29 April 2007) - The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) initiative, convened by the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative and the UN Global Compact, announces this week on its first anniversary that it has achieved over 180 leading institutional signatories from all round the globe, representing in excess of US$ 8 trillion in assets under management.
Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan presided over the North American launch on the 27th April 2006 at the New York Stock Exchange. 20 mainstream institutional asset owners representing USD 2 trillion signed up. The European launch by James Plaskitt, Under-Secretary for the UK Department for Work and Pensions took place a week later in Paris. Since then, it has grown to 183 signatories.
"In the first year, we have focused on spreading the word, signing up investors and putting in place the nuts and bolts to support signatories in implementing the Principles, including development of a robust process to monitor progress," said Donald MacDonald, Chair of the PRI and a Trustee of the British Telecom Pension Scheme.
“We have great buy-in from the investment community, and we now have in place the support structures to assist in implementation. So year two is about action."
Antoine de Salins, CEO of the French Fonds de Reserve said, “PRI has been a tremendous success not only because the number of signatories and assets under management have been growing, but also because of the expansion of ESG resources at pension funds as well as leading asset manager firms. This is a tangible example of the credibility of PRI.”
One of the most exciting initiatives is the PRI Engagement Clearinghouse, which is the first global collaborative forum for investors to work together and share knowledge and resources to take action on ESG issues. This has already proved an effective method of raising awareness and gaining support from other signatories for investor activities, particularly internationally, focusing on issues such as climate change, executive remuneration, transparency, investment in sensitive regions, and other key challenges.
The first PRI Reporting and Assessment questionnaire has just been completed by signatories and the results will be released in July. MacDonald: "This framework will provide us with a baseline so we can see where we are, and where we need to focus our attention. It will also ensure that signatories are taking their commitments seriously". The PRI is also stimulating greater transparency among investors on how they address ESG issues. Insight Investment is the first signatory to release a dedicated PRI report, outlining the fund’s approach to implementation. Insight CEO, Dougie Ferrans: “Insight was proud to become one of the first signatories of the UN PRI when they were launched last year. We believe the PRI has an extremely important role to play in encouraging major asset owners and mainstream asset managers to fully integrate ESG issues into their investments. We are proud to announce the publication of our first annual report on responsible investment, entitled ‘Putting Principles Into Practice’, which delivers on Principle Six and demonstrates our full compliance with the PRI”.
During the first four months of 2007 more than 40 investors have signed up including AP1, AGF Asset Management, JPMorgan Asset Management, HSBC Investments and Scottish Widows Investment Management.
The PRI is also gaining strong momentum in emerging markets. In Brazil, PRI founding signatory PREVI has taken the lead in promoting the PRI, resulting in 16 Brazilian pension funds joining in recent months. The Government Pension Fund of Thailand and the Government Employees Pension Fund of South Africa are also signatories.
Three of the four largest fund managers in Australia have also signed up in recent months. These include BT Financial Group, AMP Capital Investors and Colonial First State Global Asset Management.
MacDonald continues, "One of the most powerful aspects of the PRI is its global nature. Environmental, social and governance issues are all becoming more globalised, and investors need to come together to address them. While there is some great work in the governance area, the PRI is at the forefront of connecting investors internationally on the broader ESG agenda."
For additional comment, please contact:
Trustee, British Telecom Pension Scheme and Chair of the PRI
Tel: +44 7 763 477212
Head of Responsible Investment
Phone: +31 30 277 1049
Mobile: +31 6 13 50 52 59
Head of Unit, UNEP Finance Initiative (Geneva, Switzerland)
Tel: +41 79 349 54 86
Senior Advisor, UN Global Compact Office
Tel.: +1 917 679 8144