Impact initiative of the year - Europe: Sustainable Development Investments Asset Owner Platform

Channels: IMPACT

Companies: APG, PGGM, Entis

People: Piet Klop

Dutch asset managers APG and PGGM formally launched the Sustainable Development Investments Asset Owner Platform (SDI AOP) earlier this year, in what has been hailed as a revolutionary step towards the harmonisation of data in the impact investing world.

Since the platform was announced in September 2019, it has also received the backing of AustralianSuper and British Columbia Investment Management Corporation.

The platform's artificial-intelligence-enhanced data enables investors to assess companies on their contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDI platform also allows asset owners and their managers to connect around the shared objective of measuring and understanding their portfolio investments' contributions to the SDGs.

Piet Klop  is senior advisor for responsible investment at PGGM, which manages the assets of the Netherlands' second biggest pension fund, PFZW. Of the platform, he says: "The original four impact themes [at PGGM] were mapped to the SDGs so we could join the SDG bandwagon and help standardise and harmonise the way to classify our sustainable investments."

Data science company Entis uses AI technology to generate SDI classifications for an initial set of 8,000 companies. This enables investors to assess their global capital markets portfolios on their contribution to the SDGs and to report to their clients and external stakeholders transparently and consistently, using a common and auditable standard, say its creators.

According to PGGM, the SDI AOP is led by asset owners, who make all methodological choices. The platform builds on the direct input and feedback from asset owners and their managers, and feeds the participating asset owners' policy and investment needs into the assessment process. Subscribers and other stakeholders will also be invited to provide feedback.