Decision follows adoption of 2009 OPTrust statement on responsible investing.
Toronto (2 June 2010) - OPTrust has become a signatory to the United Nations' Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).
OPTrust administers a defined benefit pension plan for members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE). It has $11 billion in assets and more than 82,000 members and retirees.
The PRI is an investor initiative in partnership with the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and the UN Global Compact. It has more than 700 signatories worldwide and represents $20 trillion (U.S. dollars) in invested assets.
Signing the PRI is consistent with a statement of responsible investing principles adopted by OPTrust in March 2009.
OPTrust has many activities as part of its responsible investing program, including active proxy voting, integration of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) practices into investment decision-making processes and corporate engagement through various investor coalitions. As a PRI signatory, OPTrust is gaining access to a "best practices framework" to help guide future activities.
"This is a credit to OPSEU's long standing leadership in socially responsible investing (SRI), its pension liaison committee and executive board and membership, who voted unanimously to sign onto these principles," says OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas.
"It is a credit to all of OPSEU's trustees who have worked diligently to keep informed about SRI and pension fund investment and who have taken this union agenda to their board of trustees tables," he adds.
"Finally, it is a credit to OPSEU's trustees at the OPTrust who kept up the pressure and were successful opening the doors for all other plans."
Morgan Eastman, chief investment officer of OPTrust, said the signing represents "an important step in OPTrust’s continuing commitment" to responsible investment.
"This commitment is based on the recognition that ESG issues have the potential to affect the performance of OPTrust’s investment portfolios over the long term. Taking appropriate steps to address potential risks in these areas is therefore consistent with OPTrust’s fiduciary duty to plan members, retirees and sponsors," Eastman says.
"We are delighted that OPTrust has signed the PRI", says James Gifford, executive director of PRI. "This continues the strong momentum within responsible investment post-crisis. OPTrust's participation will add greatly to the PRI's Canadian activities and it has a lot to offer in terms of integration of ESG issues and active ownership within mainstream pension management."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE