Impact

Triodos SICAV I recognises that the companies in the Triodos Sustainable Investment Universe are large and complex organisations. Through their many links with society they are able to boost the pace of sustainable change. Triodos SICAV I is one of many stakeholders in these companies. Nevertheless, many companies consider inclusion in the Triodos Sustainable Investment Universe an important achievement.

Triodos SICAV I assesses the sustainability performance of companies based on a diversified range of indicators. This allows the fund to determine how the companies in its portfolios perform compared to their peers. In the table below the sustainability scores of the portfolios of Triodos Sustainable Bond Fund and Triodos Sustainable Equity Fund are compared with the sustainability scores of the indices.

Sustainability scores

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Average indicative scores* (0-100)

Bond
portfolio

iBoxx €
Non-Sovereigns Index

Difference

Equity
Portfolio

MSCI
World
Index

Difference

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*

The scores are based on Sustainalytics ratings, using customized weight settings. For bonds, the sustainability scores relate to the non-sovereign constituents of the portfolio and the index. Ratings are available for all companies and institutions included in the portfolio; for the index approximately 85% of the constituents is covered. The scores above do not cover sovereign bonds. The equity portfolio consists of companies with sustainable products and services and companies that quality as best-in-class within their sector. The above-average sustainability score of the fund portfolio relates to 88% of the fund’s invested assets. The companies for which no sustainability rating is available are all companies with sustainable activities. The table shows scores as at December 31, 2014.

Environment

65

58

+7

62

50

+12

Social

67

63

+4

62

54

+8

Governance

66

58

+8

63

54

+9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is important to investors in Triodos SICAV I that their assets are invested in companies that meet our minimum criteria. Investors in Triodos SICAV I are also interested in achieving lasting change in society in respect of the environment, society as a whole and the way in which companies are governed. Through its exclusion criteria and engagement activities, Triodos SICAV I aims to support global processes that bring about such change.

In 2014 the fund continued its engagement efforts on conflict minerals. Conflict minerals include tantalum (coltan), tin, tungsten and gold originating from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and its adjoining countries. These minerals are called ‘conflict minerals’ as the revenues from their extraction are used to finance the armed conflict in the region. In 2014 US-based Itron committed itself to using conflict-free minerals only. The fund had been engaging on this topic with the company for quite some time.

Supported by six other institutional investors, the fund wrote letters to 13 companies in the Triodos Sustainable Investment Universe, asking them to inform us whether they use tantalum, tin, tungsten and/or gold and if so, what measures the company has taken to ensure that these minerals originate from ‘conflict-free’ supply chains. Three companies with which the fund engaged (Gamesa, Gerresheimer and Vestas) have made clear progress in the past few months. Our questions triggered the companies to analyse their supply chain. The outcomes of these analyses are being used to define further steps. Other companies that we contacted indicated that they are already clearly committed to working towards sourcing conflict-free minerals or are in the process of conducting supply chain due diligence analysis. Only one company we contacted did not respond.

The fund’s engagement activities are not aimed solely at companies, but may also be addressed at governments. In 2014, the fund initiated an investor statement calling on the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament to develop a more stringent EU policy on conflict minerals, in line with the American rules on supply chain due diligence and disclosure. This statement was signed by investors representing more than EUR 855 billion in assets under management. The fund initiated this investor statement because in the United States, legislation has turned this topic from a reputation issue for a few leading brands into a multi-sector reporting requirement. The fund believes that European regulation of comparable strength is needed to ensure that both investors and consumers can make informed choices in order to avoid complicity in human rights abuse.

Other examples of progress as a result of the fund’s engagement efforts include:

  • Following the recent adoption of stricter basic labour rights requirements, we contacted all companies that are currently part of the Triodos Sustainable Investment Universe but do not yet meet the new requirements. We informed them of the changes in our criteria and advised them that we will apply these changes as of the next assessment. Compass Group from the United Kingdom and Whole Foods Market from the United States appreciated this early warning. Compass Group has indicated that it will look into this issue.
  • French Essilor: in early 2014 the company sent us its new policy on animal testing, following up on our contact with the company during its reassessment in 2013. The eligibility of the company was reassessed but in view of concerns about anti-trust involvement, the company is not yet considered for investment.
  • Dutch Wessanen: as a result of our questions about animal testing, Wessanen will include this topic in its Code of Conduct. Animal testing is not something the company makes use of or will make use of in the future, but this statement was not yet published anywhere.
  • Dutch Ahold: after an intensive dialogue with the company about the use of genetically modified (GM) crops and the efforts made by the company to strengthen its GM policy, we concluded that the company does not meet the standards that we have set for this topic. After our decision to exclude the company for investment, a further dialogue took place and again the fund provided input for further consideration by the company. We will monitor Ahold’s progress and will reconsider the company for investment when relevant.

In addition to its individual dialogues with companies, the fund also regularly joins collaborative initiatives organised by members of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), Eumedion and VBDO and takes part in expert events. Examples of such engagement efforts undertaken in 2014 include:

  • Co-signing of an investor initiative lobbying for tightening of rules on corporate tax avoidance (see above for more details).
  • Amazon and arms: as a result of one of these initiatives US-based Amazon has removed most of the weapons and weapon accessories from its website.
  • Co-signing of an investor statement calling for stronger financial compensation for the victims of the Rana Plaza disaster. The statement was signed by 134 institutional investor groups with a total of over USD 4.1 trillion in assets under management. As a result of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in April 2013, 1,500 workers died.
  • Our research analysts actively participated in a stakeholder meeting with ABN AMRO, organised by VBDO, and in investor meetings with Ahold, DSM, ING, Philips and Reed Elsevier organised by Eumedion.
  • The fund manager gave a presentation at a side event to the 27th UN Human Rights Assembly on water scarcity in Geneva. This side event was organised by WaterLex. Triodos Bank was the only bank invited to this event. Our main message was that 90% of worldwide water use is for irrigation purposes and industrial production and that investment funds can have a significant positive impact if they include water use and water pollution as criteria in their screening of and engagement with companies.
  • The fund manager also presented Triodos Bank’s vision on tax transparency at a conference on this subject organised by the European Parliament. The conference was organised by Transparency International. At the event, we presented Triodos Bank’s vision on tax transparency when screening listed companies for the SRI funds.

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