New tool to evaluate firms on UN sustainable development goals

SDI Asset Owner Platform to allow investors to assess 8,000 companies using the UN criteria.

Pension fund managers from three continents have launched an online green-investing tool that measures companies against United Nations sustainable development goals.

The SDI Asset Owner Platform will allow investors to assess 8,000 companies using the UN criteria, according to a statement on Monday. The four pension funds — APG Asset Management NV and PGGM NV from the Netherlands, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation from Canada and AustralianSuper, are responsible for the platform’s methodology. Together they manage more than $1 trillion of assets.

“Standardization of data is one of the biggest challenges facing the environmental, social and governance landscape,” said Jennifer Coulson, BCI’s vice president for ESG. The platform will provide “consistency and comparability to company-level data.”

ESG investing is gaining popularity as more investors seek to make a positive impact in addition to financial gains. The threats that climate change could pose to a company’s supply chain, or the fallout from legal scandals, can hit future performance.

[Watch: 3 Questions: Why ESG demand is surging]

The platform will be available to investors by subscription through distribution partner Qontigo, according to the statement. Subscription income is needed to cover the costs of running the platform, but will be “by no means profit maximizing”, said Claudia Kruse, APG’s managing director for global responsible investment and governance. “We really hope that this will be adopted as a global standard.”

The UN set out its sustainable development goals in 2015 to address urgent global issues such as water scarcity, healthcare access, and protecting the environment, according to the statement.