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ASB Community Trust signs up to UN's Principles

ASB Community Trust signs up to UN's Principles for Responsible Investment


The ASB Community Trust, an independent grant-making organisation supporting the work of not-for-profit groups in the Auckland and Northland regions of New Zealand, has signed up to the United Nation’s Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI).

The $1.1b Trust, founded on the sale of its shares in ASB Bank, has made grants in excess of $600m since being formed in 1988.

CEO Jennifer Gill says that, as a major asset owner, signing up to the UNPRI is a natural progression of the Trust’s Responsible Investment Policy adopted by the ASB Community Trust in 2006. “Our Trustees believe that environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues must be taken into account when the Trust invests its money,” she says. The UNPRI, developed by some of the world’s leading institutional investors, creates a framework for assessing environmental, social and corporate governance issues. As a signatory, the Trust will consider ESG issues when it makes investment decisions. The Trust currently monitors its portfolio against the ten principles of the UN Global Compact. This provides a benchmark for the Trusts investment portfolio. Responsible investment research and engagement services are provided by the Centre for Australian Ethical Research (CAER) in conjunction with the London-based organisation EIRIS.

According to CAER’s CEO Duncan Paterson, the signing is a very encouraging step for responsible investment in New Zealand.

“The UNPRI has been very successful in gaining support globally, but it remains northern-hemisphere focussed – 40% of signatories are based in Europe. Having signatories from around the world participating in this process increases the impact of engagement and adds relevance for engagement with local companies.”

CAER and EIRIS research provides the Trust with concise reports on how companies are dealing with high profile issues and gives context and background information. The Trust encourages dialogue and discussion in a process of engagement.

In its fiduciary role the Trust believes that environmental, social and corporate governance issues can affect the performance of investment portfolios.

Background notes

The Principles for Responsible Investment, convened by the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative and the UN Global Compact, was established in early 2006 as a framework to help investors achieve better long-term investment returns and sustainable markets through better analysis of environmental, social and governance issues in investment process and the exercise of responsible ownership practices.

Signatories number over 300, including many major international funds and manage assets in total exceeding US$10 trillion.

More information is available at www.unpri.org. (ENDS)


Notes to editors:

About ASB Community Trust: ASB Community Trust decides on grants for projects in education, the arts, sport, recreation, environment, heritage, health and social services areas each month. About $45 million is granted to community group projects in Auckland and Northland each year. Founded on the sale of its shares in the ASB bank, the Trust has granted more than $600m since being formed in 1988. Incorporated or charitable trusts can apply for funds, provided they are a not-for-profit organisation. For more details about applying, visit the Trust’s website: www.ASBCommunityTrust.org.nz

About CAER: The Centre for Australian Ethical Research (CAER) is an independent, not-for-profit research organisation. CAER was established in 2000 to provide independent social and environmental data on companies operating in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. CAER collects data on approximately 180 socially responsible investment (SRI) issues for the S&P/ASX 300 and major New Zealand companies. Visit www.unpricaer.org.au.

for more information.

About EIRIS - EIRIS is the leading global provider of independent research into the social, environmental and ethical performance of companies. EIRIS, a UK based organisation with offices in the US and Japan, has partnered with international research partners to assemble the industry’s most comprehensive, objective research. With coverage of more than 2,800 European, North American and Asian companies, EIRIS assists a broad range of investors including retail & institutional fund managers, pension funds, foundations and private client investment managers in the implementation of SRI strategies. Visit www.eiris.org for more information.

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