Super Fund knowingly invests in illegal rainforest destruction

The Green Party today challenged the New Zealand Superannuation Fund to explain why it continues to invest and profit from the illegal destruction of rainforest to grow palm oil.

Figures provided to the Green Party and the Herald showed the NZ Superannuation Fund, ACC Investment Fund, and Government Superannuation Fund have $22 million tied up in four foreign palm oil companies linked to the illegal burning and devastation of Indonesian rainforests. The companies are: Genting Bhd, IJM Corp Berhad, Posco, and Daewoo.

“The NZ Superannuation Fund continues to invest and profit in companies linked to illegal rainforest destruction in Indonesia and has knowingly done so since 2014,” said Green Party conservation spokesperson Mojo Mathers.

“Norway's $900 billion pension fund documented and publicly reported in 2014 and again in 2015 on the ‘severe environmental damage’ these companies were causing in Indonesia, leading it to sell its investments after two years of unsuccessful engagement.

“Two years on, it’s time our own fund managers did likewise or showed evidence of positive behaviour change in these companies.

“Anne-Maree O'Connor, head of responsible investment at the NZ Superannuation Fund, has wrongly said that the Norwegian’s approach to responsible investment was different to our own, with the NZ Superannuation Fund preferring engagement over divestment.

“The Norwegian fund spent two years attempting to engage with these companies but was unsuccessful.

“Government Superannuation Fund Authority chief executive Simon Tyler was also reported as saying that ‘collective capital carries more weight’.

“The Norwegian fund had, at one point, approximately $440 million invested in these four companies compared to our current government investment of $22 million.

“Nicholas Bagnall, Investment Manager at ACC, admitted that he is still to write to POSCO to raise concerns with their behaviour.

“It looks like our investment managers are investing reactively, not responsibly.

“The Norwegian Government also actively engages in protecting rainforests in Indonesia, spending $500 million a year to protect the forests and the wildlife that lives there.

“The National Government does nothing to protect Indonesia’s precious last rainforests. The least it could do is direct its fund managers to invest responsibly and divest wherever this is not possible,” said Ms Mathers.

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