Initiatives and membership of organisations

As one of Germany’s largest asset managers, we are aware of our responsibility and have accepted the challenge of helping to actively shape a future-proof environment for investments.

We promote the acceptance and implementation of sustainability principles within the investment industry. That is why Union Investment is an active member of various associations and initiatives involved in sustainability matters.

Membership of organisations

Union Investment belongs to various organisations as a way of supporting sustainable investments:

PRI – Principles for Responsible Investment

The Principles for Responsible Investment were developed by international institutional investors as part of a process coordinated by the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and the UN Global Compact. These six Principles provide guidance for investors so that they understand the influence of responsible investments and adhere to it in their decision making. Supporters of the initiative commit to complying with the six Principles. The Principles are seen as a ‘corset’ that ensures the supporters apply the ten principles of the UN Global Compact in their individual investment strategies. Union Investment signed up to these Principles in 2010.

  1. We will incorporate ESG* issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes.
  2. We will be active owners and incorporate ESG* issues into our ownership policies and practices.
  3. We will seek appropriate disclosure on ESG* issues by the entities in which we invest.
  4. We will promote acceptance and implementation of the Principles within the investment industry.
  5. We will work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the Principles.
  6. We will each report on our activities and progress towards implementing the Principles.
  1. * ESG stands for ‘environmental, social and corporate governance’.

German Sustainability Code (GSC)

The Sustainability Code supports the development of a sustainability strategy and provides an introduction to sustainability reporting. Regular reporting makes the company's development over time visible. To comply with the GSC, users create a statement in the database on twenty GSC criteria and the supplementary non-financial performance indicators.

UN Global Compact

The Sustainability Code supports the development of a sustainability strategy and provides an introduction to sustainability reporting. Regular reporting makes the company's development over time visible. To comply with the GSC, users create a statement in the database on twenty GSC criteria and the supplementary non-financial performance indicators.

German Corporate Governance Code

A committee of 14 prominent figures from business and public life, including Jens Wilhelm, a member of the Board of Managing Directors of Union Investment, prepared the German Corporate Governance Code and continues to review and adjust it as necessary.

Sustainable Investment Forum

The Sustainable Investment Forum (FNG) has been the association for sustainable investment in Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland since 2001. Its objective is to provide the general public and decision-makers from the worlds of politics, business and academia with up-to-date and comprehensive information, thereby raising the profile of sustainable investment in the financial sector and among the public. This should also create stronger ties between the relevant players and highlight the positive influence that sustainable investment can exert on society and the environment. In addition, FNG aims to help shape political, legal and economic conditions.

Union Investment has been an active member of the Sustainable Investment Forum since 2010.

EUROSIF

The European Sustainable Investment Forum (EUROSIF) is the umbrella organisation of the eight local European sustainable investment associations. In this role, EUROSIF has developed a transparency code that defines what constitutes a socially responsible investment. Only companies that meet the code’s requirements and are listed as a transparent company can go on to apply for other sustainability seals of approval at local level.

PRI Montréal Pledge

By signing the Montreal Carbon Pledge, investors undertake to measure and publish the carbon footprint of their investment portfolio each year.
The pledge was launched on 25 September 2014 in Montreal and is supported by the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) organisation and the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI).

Union Investment analyses the CO2 intensity of different equity funds in SIRIS, the company’s proprietary ESG analysis platform, which accesses data from the Trucost data platform and other sources. Scope 1 and 2 CO2 intensity is measured in tonnes of CO2 equivalents per one million US dollars of revenue on a weighted basis. The carbon footprint of the entire share portfolio held by Union Investment on 31 December 2018 was 205.4 t CO2 / US$ million of revenue. The reporting date for the funds presented below is 8 February 2019. Union Investment will continue to call on companies with high emissions to reduce their greenhouse gases as part of its engagement activities.

Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)

CDP is an independent and international non-profit organisation that was founded in London in 2000. It maintains the world’s largest database of company-related climate information in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and 767 institutional investors. Capital market players use this information to evaluate companies’ CO2 emissions, climate risks and CO2 reduction targets. The World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) has been the CDP’s strategic partner in Germany for many years. The CDP’s overarching goal is to make CO2 emissions transparent and tangible, so that they can be reduced on a long-term and sustainable basis.

Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI)

The not-for-profit Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) is the only organisation in the world working to expand the market for sustainable bonds. It aims to develop a large and liquid market for green bonds and climate bonds that will help drive down the cost of capital for climate projects in developed and emerging markets. The Climate Bonds Initiative promotes investment assets that are necessary for a transition to a low-emission, resource-efficient and climate-resilient economy.

As well as carrying out research and reporting on developments, the organisation develops climate bond policy proposals for government, finance and industry. Its Climate Bonds Certification serves as a representative indicator for sustainable investments and recognises individual funds or investment companies for their contribution to climate protection. Union Investment has been a partner of this initiative since the beginning of 2016.

Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI)

The Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) is a collaborative project of the Church of England and the Environment Agency Pension Fund (EAPF).  It was launched in January 2017. The TPI has set itself the task of analysing the transition to a low-carbon economy, as envisaged in the Paris Agreement, and to examine its impact on companies in carbon-intensive industries. As a supporter of this initiative, Union Investment will address these analyses and their findings in its engagement dialogues with companies.

Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)

The Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) was founded by the Financial Stability Board (FSB) to develop a voluntary and consistent system for reporting climate-related financial risks. Standardised reporting enables companies to provide information to investors, lenders, insurers and other stakeholders that is relevant to their decision making. By providing access to comparable and reliable data, the TCFD aims to improve the evaluation, pricing and management of climate-related financial risks.

LuxFLAG

Founded in July 2006, LuxFLAG is an independent, not-for-profit labelling agency that works on an international basis to support the raising of capital for sustainable development projects. In order to promote interest in sustainable investment, LuxFLAG awards a recognisable label to suitable funds. This seal of quality gives investors assurance that the labelled fund does actually invest in sustainable assets.

Pensions for Purpose

Pensions for Purpose is a joint initiative of impact managers, pension funds, social enterprises and other companies involved or interested in impact investments. The aim of this platform is to promote understanding of impact investing by publishing and sharing news, blogs, case studies, academic research and thought leadership papers. In addition, Pensions for Purpose acts as a first point of contact for journalists seeking information on sustainable investments.

International working groups in which Union Investment is represented

UN PRI SDG Active Ownership Working Group

More traditional approaches to active shareholder engagement (engagement and proxy voting) have focused primarily on companies' procedures and processes for appropriately managing ESG risks. In what ways will engagement activities evolve in the context of active shareholderism as a result of the integration of the SDGs? Since the SDGs are not only about avoiding and mitigating ESG risks, but also about achieving positive outcomes for society, engagement activities from an SDG perspective could shift their focus to opportunities from new, sustainable business models. This will inevitably involve the use of other tools and measures of success.

ICMA Social Bonds Working Group

The goal of the working group is to promote the growth of the social bond market by further developing a guiding framework and to develop a common framework for uses.

DVFA Arbeitskreis Governance & Stewardship

The DVFA Commission Governance & Stewardship, which is mainly composed of investor representatives and academics, advocates responsible interaction between companies and investors on the German capital market - with the aim of promoting best practice in corporate governance as well as in the implementation of fiduciary investor duties (stewardship). The Commission's activities include addressing current aspects of corporate governance and stewardship, helping to develop standards and shaping relevant regulatory processes.

DVFA Kommission Sustainable Investing

In November 2018, the newly constituted Sustainable Investing Commission, chaired by Dr. Henrik Pontzen, and Gunnar Friede, CIIA, CEFA, DWS, met for the first time. The Commission will address the development of sustainability standards, and sees itself as DVFA's mouthpiece in terms of regulation and education and training.

BVI Arbeitskreis Corporate Governance

The BVI Bundesverband Investment und Asset Management e. V. (BVI for short) is an association of investment companies founded in 1970. Its more than 100 members manage more than 3 trillion euros in mutual funds, special funds and asset management mandates. The BVI represents the interests of the German fund industry at national and international level. The German fund association BVI is the point of contact for policymakers and regulators on all issues relating to the German Investment Code.

Initiatives supported by Union Investment

Global Investor Statement on Climate Change

By signing the 2011 Global Investor Statement on Climate Change, Union Investment (along with 378 other investors worldwide) is supporting the call for standardised, long-term guidelines regarding climate change and clean energy (‘investment-grade policies’). These guidelines are needed to make the private sector more energy-efficient. Individual governments must set the necessary parameters, implement guidelines and monitor compliance with them. The signatories undertake to work with policy-makers, identify and evaluate investment opportunities for reducing CO2, develop the capacity to identify climate change risks resulting from their own investments and integrate these in their investment decisions, work with the companies in which they invest to prevent climate change, and document and publish the changes made in relation to renewable energies, energy efficiency and climate change. In this context, Union Investment has set itself the objective of regularly questioning companies about CO2 reductions.

Frankfurt Declaration

Frankfurt Declaration

Frankfurter Erklärung

The need for global sustainable development gives rise to a huge responsibility for the financial industry as a whole. Frankfurt as a financial industry hub and Union Investment as a player in this industry accept this responsibility and commit to a common agenda – the Frankfurt Declaration.

Investor Expectations on Corporate Climate Lobbying

Investors engage with companies in the US, Canada and Australia whose climate impact is not compatible with the shareholders’ interest in maximising the long-term value of the company. This includes cases where a company publicly supports a more environmentally friendly policy but is being opposed by trade associations of which it is a member.

Climate Change Investor Letter to G7/G20

389 institutional investors with combined assets under management in excess of US$ 22 trillion called on the Heads of State or Government of the G20 nations to meet their obligations under the Paris Agreement at the G20 summit in Hamburg on 7–8 July 2017.

Emphasizing the urgency of the measures and restating a message that had previously been directed at the G7 group, investors demanded that the G20 Heads of State or Government:

  • Confirm their commitment and support for the implementation of the Paris climate accord and maintain their individual targets defined at national level.
  • Prepare targeted, long-term climate action and energy plans which ensure that the average global temperature increase will remain well below 2°C and ideally around 1.5°C.
  • Promote investment in innovations that drive the transition to lower carbon emissions.
  • Implement a framework for climate impact-focused financial reporting, including support for the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

Investor Alliance for Human Rights

The Investor Alliance for Human Rights is a collective action platform for responsible investment that is grounded in respect for people's fundamental rights. The Investor Alliance for Human Rights is a membership-based, non-profit initiative focusing on the investor responsibility to respect human rights, corporate engagements that drive responsible business conduct, and standard-setting activities that push for robust business and human rights policies.

World Benchmarking Alliance

WBA Allies represent organisations working at global, regional, and local levels to shape the private sector’s contributions to achieving the SDGs. Echoing the true spirit of SDG17 – Partnerships for the Goals, our Allies are committed to WBA’s mission, vision, and values, and believe in the power of benchmarks and cross-sector partnerships to drive systemic progress on the SDGs.

Collaborative engagement – joining forces with other investors to exert pressure at a global level

Internet security

The PRI committee and its signatories have started a global cooperation project on cyber-security. The initiative is focused on the consumer, health and financial sectors and aims to promote the disclosure of more information on companies in the cyber industry for the benefit of investors and also to improve the understanding of relevant risks in this area.

Labour standards in the supply chain

In cooperation with the UN-PRI investor group that comprises 52 investors with total assets under management of US$ 3.9 trillion, Union Investment engages in improving workers’ rights in the supply chain of food producers. Their efforts are primarily focused on key issues such as child labour, forced labour, and the health and wages of workers.

Climate Action 100+

Climate Action 100+ is a five-year initiative led by investors that aims to engage systemically important carbon emitters and other companies across the global economy that have significant opportunities to drive the clean energy transition and help achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. The participating investors are calling on companies to curb emissions, raise the status of climate change as a governance issue, and improve reporting on climate-related financial risks.

Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB)

The Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) comprises 98 of the biggest global companies in high-risk industries including the agricultural sector, the clothing industry and raw material extraction. The companies listed in the benchmark are assessed and ranked based on a set of human rights indicators. Union Investment has been supporting this benchmark since it was launched in 2017.

Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR)

Established by the Jeremy Coller Foundation, the FAIRR Initiative is a collaborative investor network that raises awareness of the environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities brought about by intensive animal agriculture. FAIRR helps investors to identify and prioritise these factors through cutting-edge research, which investors can then integrate into their active stewardship and decision-making processes.

Workforce Disclosure Initiative (WDI)

The Workforce Disclosure Initiative (WDI) aims to improve corporate transparency and accountability on workforce issues, provide companies and investors with comprehensive and comparable data and help increase the provision of good jobs worldwide.