The DNRF’s responsible investment policy

Responsible investment policy

The Danish National Research Foundation’s (DNRF) responsible investment policy and the goal of acting as a responsible investor are an integral part of the foundations overall investment principles and strategy.

The DNRF acts as a responsible investor by investing in companies that live up to common internationally accepted principles and norms for treating environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and by not investing in companies involved in the production of controversial weapons.

When investing in government bonds, the foundation only invests in government bonds issued by countries that act in accordance with internationally recognized principles of good governance and human rights and where the country or the key individuals in the country are not subject to UN or EU financial sanctions.

The following is relevant for the foundation’s investments in equities and corporate bonds:

The guidelines

The guidelines are based on well recognized principles, guidelines, conventions and international ESG standards.

When investing the portfolio managers of equities and credit bonds must:

  • strives to live up to the United Nations Global Compact principles and/or OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
  • not invest in companies that violates broadly accepted international weapon-related conventions.
  • not invest in producers of nuclear weapons in violation of the treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Furthermore when investing, most of the portfolio managers of equities and credit bonds live up to the following:

  • The ILO conventions on labor rights.
  • Exclusion of companies with high extraction of thermal coal.

The individual portfolio managers may have further criteria they use when investing.

Implementation

The regulatory framework states that the DNRF shall use external portfolio managers for all investments. The external portfolio managers are also responsible for the implementation of the responsible investment policy.

For cost reasons, the foundation often invests in mutual funds. It is not possible as a minority investor (such as the DNRF) in a mutual fund to determine the mutual fund’s policy for responsible investments. The consequence is that each portfolio/mandate does not have exactly the same policy for responsible investments.

When the foundation chooses a mutual fund, the portfolio manager’s/mutual fund’s policy for responsible investments is an important selection criterion in the overall assessment of the manager of the mutual fund. It is a requirement that the foundation’s portfolio managers of equities and credit bonds as a minimum live up to the DNRF’s responsible investment policy and guidelines.

The DNRF portfolio managers of equities and credit bonds screen the portfolios on a regular basis to identify companies that violate the above-mentioned principles and conventions.

On this basis and the engagement with the company, the portfolio manager decides which companies should be excluded based on the mutual funds responsible investment policy. Therefore, the exclusion lists may vary from portfolio to portfolio.

Engagement

Engagement is as a part of being a responsible investor. Therefore, the foundation’s external portfolio managers:

  • have a dialog/engages with companies that do not live up to the ESG policy.
  • should exercise voting rights on important issues.

The foundation’s portfolio managers engage on an ongoing basis with companies they have invested in by for example having a dialogue with the companies about the relevant issues. The engagement is based on each portfolios managers policy.

The DNRF’s goal is to have as a high a share of exercising voting rights as possible. The portfolio managers monitor the items on the general meetings on an ongoing basis and use the voting rights on most of the items.