Appropriate sustainability work at the AP Funds, but more should be done
The state-owned AP Funds conduct appropriate sustainability work in relation to their objectives’, but the Funds should do more to ensure that pension capital contributes to Sweden’s sustainable development goals. The Government should also take measures, according to the Swedish National Audit Office’ (Swedish NAO) audit
The six Swedish National Pension Funds, the AP Funds, manage pension capital of approximately SEK 2,400 billion. The overall objective is to create a high long-term return at an appropriate risk level, so that pensions can be secured. In addition, the Riksdag and the Government have stated that the Funds’ activities should contribute to sustainable development.
The Swedish NAO’s audit shows that AP Funds’ sustainability work is reasonable and appropriate in relation to their objectives. Sustainability is expressed in the Funds‘ policy documents and has been integrated into the Funds’ asset management and corporate governance.
However, the Swedish NAO considers that there are measures that both the AP Funds and the Government should take in order for the Funds’ assets under management to further promote the Riksdag’s goals and intentions for sustainable development.
For the Government, it is a matter of taking the initiative to set the same legal requirements for all AP Funds. At present, the first four AP Funds have a statutory sustainability requirement, and for the Seventh AP Fund this is under way. However, the Sixth AP Fund is not covered.
“The same requirements for all AP Funds should strengthen the efficiency and legitimacy of the sustainability work. It also clarifies the responsibility for taking sustainability into account and creates better conditions for achieving the sustainability goals," says Auditor General Helena Lindberg.
The audit also shows that the AP Funds‘ goals for social sustainability should be clarified to reflect the Funds’ long-term ambitions in the area. In addition, the reporting of the AP Funds’ work on corporate governance should be clarified so that it is easier to follow up the results it has yielded.
“The Funds also need to ensure that their corporate governance is focused on companies and areas where it has the greatest opportunity to exert influence and be of the greatest benefit,” says Per Franzén, project leader for the audit.
The Government’s reporting to the Riksdag on the sustainability of pension management should also be developed.
The Swedish NAO makes the following recommendations to the AP Funds:
- The AP Funds should clarify their goals in social sustainability so that they reflect the Funds’ long-term ambitions in the area.
- The first four AP Funds and the Seventh AP Fund should continue to develop their environmental and social sustainability work in their corporate governance to ensure that the work is focused on areas where the Fund has the greatest opportunity to exert influence and be of the greatest benefit.
- The first four AP Funds and the Seventh AP Fund should develop how reporting on stewardship strategies and dialogues can be made clearer, both in terms of scope and if possible, results achieved.
- The first four AP Funds should identify common key indicators for investments and corporate governance that can make the sustainability reporting more easily accessible and result-oriented. When possible, the Sixth AP Fund and the Seventh AP Fund should also use the same key indicators so that the Government can provide as comprehensive a picture as possible in its reporting to the Riksdag.
- The Sixth AP Fund should report how the Fund can contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The Swedish NAO makes the following recommendations to the Government:
- Take the initiative to clarify the Sixth AP Fund’s objective in relation to exemplary management.
- Develop the annual communication to the Riksdag so that it clearly answers the question whether the first four AP Funds fulfil the statutory requirements for the management of assets through responsible investments and responsible ownership.
- Develop the communication so that the overall outcome of the AP Funds’ sustainability work is clearer.
Press contact: Olle Castelius, phone: +46 8-5171 40 04.
Presskontakt: Olle Castelius , telefon: 08-5171 42 06.
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