The objective of the Triodos SRI funds is to invest in companies that outperform other companies within their sector in terms of sustainability and that also drive the sustainability agenda of the sector forward. By investing in those companies, which are an example for others in their industry, the fund aims to encourage them to continue to outperform in their sector.
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Triodos SICAV I applies some of the strictest criteria in the market. The fund believes that companies that successfully balance care for the environment, society, and their business will deliver maximum value to all stakeholders, including their shareholders.
The views on sustainable corporate behaviour evolve over time with increased knowledge and insight. The fund’s criteria therefore evolve too. Triodos SICAV I regularly reconsiders its criteria to ensure that they reflect the latest views on sustainability that exist within Triodos Bank and in society. Triodos SICAV I thus fully participates in the public debate on sustainability.
In 2015, the fund reconsidered its position on a number of minimum standards:
- Human rights: ‘land grabbing’, i.e. large-scale acquisitions of farmland in Africa, Asia and Latin America by private corporations as insurance against volatile commodity prices and food (in)security, is an issue that attracts a great deal of interest from NGOs and the media. The fund developed a guideline for assessing companies involved in large-scale farmland acquisitions.
- Genetic engineering: the use of human embryonic stem cells can be controversial, especially from an ethical perspective. This is why the fund requires companies that use this technology to have a policy that covers the purpose of research, the origin of stem cells and restrictions on their use. However, because in practice only a limited number of strains of these cells are used, the fund applies its requirement only to companies that make the strains available.
- Arms: in 2015, a feasibility study was conducted in order to gain insight into the current positions in specific arms companies held by financial institutions. In total, fifteen financial institutions were asked about their involvement in such companies and if relevant, were confronted with an overview of their investments in those companies. Thirteen companies provided full answers, while one provided a partial response. As a result, it was decided to further strengthen the arms criterion. Companies that are currently selected are given three years to strengthen their policies.
- For the automobiles industry it was concluded that there are sufficient innovations taking place in the sector, for instance, the development of fuel-efficient and clean technologies. It goes without saying that the fund shares the concerns raised about the large differences in emissions from cars on the road compared to those that come from laboratory tests. Even if we take these concerns into account, the sector as a whole, has made significant progress in cutting CO2 emissions from cars and continues to do so, thereby addressing our concerns. This review was not triggered by the Volkswagen scandal but was nearly completed when the scandal surfaced. As the Volkswagen scandal is company specific and not related to the industry, this scandal did not impact the outcome of this review.
A full overview of the fund’s sustainability criteria is available on www.triodos.com.