Annual report 2019: AP Funds Council on Ethics influences safety, deforestation, money laundering and climate efforts

The Council on Ethics of the Swedish National Pension (AP) Funds Annual Report 2019:

AP Funds Council on Ethics influences safety in mining and focuses on deforestation, money laundering and climate efforts

  • May 4, 2020

For more than 13 years, the AP Funds’ Council on Ethics has exercised influence on the AP Funds’ global portfolio of listed companies to improve their environmental, human rights and corporate governance work through engagement and dialogue. During 2019, the Council on Ethics’ efforts and involvement have focused on areas such as inadequate safety in managing mine waste, known as ‘tailings’. Other focus areas include money laundering, long-term environmental efforts in the oil industry, and deforestation in South America.

January 2019 saw the serious accident at Brumadinho in Brazil, when the tailings dam of mining company Vale burst, with devastating consequences. Shortly afterwards, the Church of England Pensions Board and the Council on Ethics jointly initiated a major project to make sure that mining companies take responsibility for their tailings dams. The project aims to audit and increase transparency around safety at all of the world’s tailings dams.

– “It is too early yet to say whether the interventions driven by investors will suffice, but the response from investors and nations does suggest that they will do their best to get to the root of the problem. It will undoubtedly be difficult, but this will eventually lead to improved safety in the mining sector,” says John Howchin, Secretary General of the Council on Ethics of the AP Funds.

As part of the AP Funds’ overall commitment in the Climate Action 100+ project, the Council on Ethics has intensified its dialogue with Shell. Climate Action 100+ is a five-year, investor-driven initiative to systematically engage companies that have extensive emissions of greenhouse gases. Shell set a long-term goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the products it sells. The target now is that net emissions from sold energy should decrease by around 20 per cent up to 2035, and should be zero by 2050.

With the aim of expanding collaboration, the Council on Ethics and the AP Funds organised a seminar involving the CEOs of four major banks, the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority, the Swedish Economic Crime Authority and others. As independent external parties outside of the banking system, the Council on Ethics and the AP Funds are in a good position to encourage closer collaboration. Working alongside banks and government authorities, we will continue our efforts to curb economic crime.
Read more about the Council on Ethics’ company dialogues and other engagements in the 2019 Annual Report

For further information, please contact:
John Howchin, Secretary General, Council on Ethics of the Swedish National Pension Funds,
phone +46 (0)8-555 17 176

Christina Olivecrona, Chairman, Council on Ethics of the Swedish National Pension Funds,
phone: +46 (0)31-704 29 00

The Council on Ethics conducts its work based on the AP Funds’ assignment to create high long-term returns with low risk for current and future retirees, and on the common core value: to take a proactive approach to sustainable development, and to demand and act in the name of transparency and positive change. The Council on Ethics works proactively as well as reactively, engaging with the AP Funds’ global portfolio of companies. The starting point is that well-managed and responsible companies create higher long-term returns with lower risk. The aim of the Council is to ensure that companies and industries conduct their sustainability work in a systematic, structured and transparent way.