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South Africa’s largest pension fund looks to sustainability

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The South African Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) will look at responsible investment in property, after signing up to a sustainable real estate organisation.

GEPF, the largest South African pension fund, will become a member of the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), an “industry-driven organisation committed to assessing the sustainability performance of real estate portfolios around the globe”.

Under the agreement, the pension fund will be able to rank the sustainability of its property portfolio, and where needed, improve the efficiency of buildings it invests in.

GRESB executive director Nils Kok said, “GRESB offers several tools to further GEPF’s sustainability initiatives in the real estate sector. In addition, it allows GEPF to be part of a global initiative to improve the sustainability performance of the global property sector.”

The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) has welcomed the news, saying that the deal will help improve the fund’s environmental performance.

Adrian Bertrand, environmental, social and governance (ESG) manager at GEPF said, “Our strategic objective is to be a leader in responsible investing and we recognise that ESG issues may have a detrimental impact on our property portfolio.

It therefore made sense to become part of GRESB as it provides the much needed measure of the environmental and social performance of GEPF’s property investments.”

In the UK, it was recently announced that the Lancashire county council pension fund had invested £12m in Westmill Solar Co-operative in Oxfordshire. This is a far cry from the unethical investments in tobacco that many councils in England and Wales were found to hold last year.

Further reading:

Africa told to invest sustainably for the long-term

Denmark expands green business relations to Indonesia and South Africa

Government calls for responsible investment to unlock ‘vast potential’ of Burma

UK developer set to build Africa’s largest solar farm

The Guide to Sustainable Investment 2013

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