Pension Fund Chiefs Call for Green COVID Recovery

The heads of eight Canadian pension funds, collectively representing about $1.6 trillion in assets under management, have expressed interest in a green recovery from the COVID-19 economic slump.

In a letter published on Wednesday, the chief executive officers implored investors and companies to put sustainability and inclusive growth at the centre of the economic recovery. Signatories include the CEOs of AIMCo, BCI, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, CPP Investments, HOOPP, OMERS, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, and PSP Investments.

Those signing the letter said the COVID-19 pandemic and "other tragic events of 2020" have revealed pre-existing business strengths and shortcomings with respect to social inequity, including systemic racism and environmental threats.

They pledged to demand more transparency from companies on how issues such as diversity and inclusion, human capital, board effectiveness and climate change can contribute to value creation or erosion.

The support for environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment practices from some of Canada’s largest money managers follows a survey last week showing 95% of Canadian institutional investors have shunned such criteria amid the pandemic. It also comes on the heels of the Bank of Canada and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions’ (OSFI) announcement of a pilot project to study the economic impact of transitioning to a low-carbon economy.