Stockholm (NordSIP) – “Unleashing corporate pension fund trillions is key to achieving the global goals and to secure long-term profitability,” according to Jan Erik Saugestad, Head of Asset Management with Storebrand Asset Management, the largest private asset manager in Norway with NOK 620 billion in AUM.
Storebrand is also a pioneer within sustainable investment. Storebrand/SPP was named the world’s most sustainable insurance group, ranking second of 4973 ranked companies on the Corporate Knights (the “magazine for clean capitalism”) Global 100 unveiled early this year at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
In the year and a half since the launch of the UN 2030 SDG agenda, its implementation is well underway. Nevertheless, Saugestad puts the frame of action to deliver at 15 years.
“That isn’t a lot of time,” he says, “so we need everyone to contribute on all levels. Everyone must take responsibility – states, institutions, individuals and civil society – and last but not least, businesses such as ours.”
Mr Saugestad suggests that not enough is being done to ensure the financial investments of companies are aligned with self-professed sustainability values and strategies, although progress has been made on the issue of incorporating sustainability into operations at the broader level.
Though there is observable increasing commitment to the sustainability agenda and a gradual shifting of norms on the issue of sustainability as a driving force for profitability, the potential is far from exhausted. Management of financial reserves and pensions should be increasingly steered to the same goals, according to Saugestad, as the convergence between profitability and sustainability has still not been universally noted.
Storebrand’s own ambitions have increased, despite being a sustainability pioneer:
“We have, like the global ambitions, gradually raised our requirements and refined our research model,” says Saugestad. “We are convinced that companies that take the global challenges seriously will be the most profitable long term. To integrate the sustainable development goals in our work and use them as a starting point for the analysis become a natural next step, and makes it possible for us to focus our efforts even further and become better at identifying the winners. Companies that are very slow or refuse to adapt have in our mind a long term risk that should not be ignored.”
Saugestad therefore sees corporate pension funds with a combined worth of trillions of dollars as a potential key driver in reinforcing the normative shift. As for Storebrand,
“Our ambition is to focus and map our work against the sustainable development goals in order to demonstrate how they are relevant to us as an investor and how we are doing our part to ensure a more sustainable future and be part of the 2030 agenda,” he says.
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