Per Bolund, Sweden’s minister for Financial Markets and Consumer Affairs, deputy minister for Finance, has announced the first batch of funds that meet the requirements for Nordic Swan ecolabelling.
The announcement means that some SEK30bn of AUM is across 12 local investment funds is being managed in line with the criteria developed by the Nordic Ecolabelling organisation.
The announcement came in association with a conference hosted in Stockholm by Nordic Swan Ecolabel, TCO Development and Good Environmental Choice titled Independent ecolabels – Putting words into action.
Bolund handed out certificates to the following managers and their funds:
- Alfred Berg Hållbar Tillväxt Sverige
- CB Save Earth Fund,
- Handelsbanken Hållbar Energi
- SEB Hållbarhetsfond Sverige
- Skandia Cancerfonden,
- Skandia Världsnaturfonden
- Swedbank Robur Ethica Global
- Swedbank Robur Ethica Global MEGA
- Swedbank Robur Ethica Sverige
- Swedbank Robur Ethica Sverige MEGA,
- Swedbank Robur Humanfond
- Tundra Sustainable Frontier Fund
As announced in June 2017, and reported by InvestmentEurope, the criteria for being awarded the Swan label were confirmed following two years of development and consultation led by the Nordic Ecolabelling organisation (see below).
The label was founded by the Nordic Council of Ministers in 1989, to assist consumers in making active choices that would benefit the environment. A Swan labelled fund is expected to be a sustainable alternative for both retail and professional fund investors, and means that the fund will include/exclude holdings and work in a transparent way to influence companies to support sustainability.
Speaking at the ecolabelling conference, Ragnar Unge, CEO of Ecolabelling Sweden explained that having started in consumer sectors as a way to facilitate access to goods and services supportive of sustainability objectives, the labelling has now been extended to financial services.
He referenced one survey suggesting 80% of Swedish savers are “interested in placing a part of their savings in a sustainable fund”.
A key question historically has been how to gauge how financial services can impact on sustainability. But he noted that funds “have a positive opportunity to influence companies in a sustainable direction”.
Bolund, speaking before handing out certificates to the named funds, noted that this represented the final stage in a multi-year journey from initial proposal via adoption by the Nordic Council, to now enabling consumers to “put your money where your mouth is”.
“Through this [the labelling] as individual consumers, we can put our savings into contributing to making the world a better place.”
The labelling also reflects that fact that consumers have a lot of power to engender change, he said, and that their collective voice “has a direct impact on the world of tomorrow.”
As such, and through the empowerment of the consumer that the label represents, it forms an important part of encouraging the industry towards a focus on sustainability, Bolund continued.
Associated with this, he also referenced recent Nobel Laureate Richard Thaler, who won the Nobel Prize for his work on behavioural economics, with Bolund suggesting that “ecolebelling for consumers is a clear example of ‘nudging’”.
Accessing further information means consumers can make more informed decisions about their investments, particularly given that historically they have not always been able to know exactly in what they are invested. Understanding this facilitiates the ability to make active decisions that can break links to behaviour that undermines sustainability goals.
“As consumers, we have to save the world a little bit every day,” Bolund said, adding that a number of challenges are already in the present, citing climate change and recent devastating hurricanes.
“The problem is not winter coming, but that winter may not come at all,” in a place such as Sweden, he said about the climate challenge.
Meanwhile, with environmental and human rights issues being considered by investors as never before, those who do not pay attention to the related issues are dealing with risk that could lead to underperformance; he suggested that at the same time companies need to be rewarded by making the right decisions on sustainability.
“The UN Sustainable Development Goals provide a common map for the world. Investors who don’t take this into account, who don’t follow this map, are taking a great risk – and the risk is increasing all the time,” Bolund said.
For example, lenders and shareholders are at risk of losses from a decline in value from hydrocarbon stranded assets, he noted
“There are strong reasons why investors are shifting from quarterly reports…towards identifying long term value.”
Jon Scheiber, CEO/partner at Tundra Fonder commented: “The Nordic Ecolabel is extreme well known in the Nordic countries with 94% recognition level among consumers. That fact that Tundra Sustainable Frontier Fund has been among the first 12 funds globally to be awarded the Ecolabel is a quality stamp of our local presence in new equity markets and our early efforts. Sustainable investment funds are coming in a big way and this award will help us in our expansion.”