The sustainable universe

The universe that the SRI funds draw upon for their investments comprises around 300 carefully listed companies. These are usually multinationals that outperform in terms of labour conditions, climate policy and animal welfare or in other respects. They also meet the minimum sustainability standards set by Triodos Investment Management.

Tackling the challenges

The influential role of these companies is imperative to tackling some of society’s biggest challenges. Rosl Veltmeijer, head of Triodos Research: “Large companies are influential and are in a position to contribute to positive change.” For example, clothing retailer H&M is making serious investments in improving the labour conditions in factories in Asia, thus setting a positive example for the rest of the textile industry. Another compelling example is BMW. “People sometimes ask me whether investing in a car manufacturer is appropriate for an impact investor such as Triodos Investment Management,” says Veltmeijer. “My answer is always that this is in fact very appropriate. Car manufacturers, too, will have to become more sustainable and we very much want to contribute to this process.” In recent years, BMW has made a great deal of progress in reducing the CO2 emissions of its vehicles. Another example is DSM. The Dutch chemicals group’s annual electricity consumption equals that of two million private households. If we really want to make progress resolving the climate change issue, a company such as DSM will also have to become more sustainable in that respect.”

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Engagement is part of the change

“And that is exactly what the company is doing,” says Fokko Wientjes, head of sustainability at DSM. “Last year we decided that by 2025 half the energy that we use must come from renewable sources. Our ultimate goal is to use only renewable energy. Furthermore, the remuneration of our management is linked to our sustainability objectives. Sustainable and responsible use of our planet is at the core of DSM’s operations,” says Wientjes. “This is precisely why we find it important to engage in dialogue with parties and investors who share our aim of promoting those objectives. As a company, we do of course make our own assessments and set our own goals. But it is inspiring to talk to investors who share our focus on themes such as sustainability and responsibility.”

It is inspiring to hold discussions with enlightened investors and shareholders.
Fokko Wientjes, head of sustainability DSM

According to Eric Holterheus, manager of Triodos SRI funds, DSM’s story demonstrates the importance of the part that large companies play in making our society more sustainable. “To contribute to sustainable development and positive change: those are the objectives of Triodos Bank and Triodos Investment Management. We make this contribution in various ways.” For instance, Triodos Bank provides loans for sustainable entrepreneurs, such as organic farmers. This is important, but it is not enough. Holterhues: “Triodos Research is committed to exerting the strongest possible positive influence on the companies we invest in, through active engagement. Engagement is about influence and applying pressure on companies in a way that wouldn’t be possible if Triodos didn’t invest in them. And even a small change in the policy or practices of a major company can make a significant global impact.”

Visit our minimum standards to learn more about our sustainability criteria or our funds pages for more details on the Triodos SRI Funds.