Responsible Investment & Human Rights Engagement - Pensions Committee Report 23 February 2022
Merseyside Pension Fund (MPF) takes Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues including human rights extremely seriously. Our recently revised Investment Strategy Statement includes our approach to Responsible Investment. This is primarily framed around engagement with stakeholders to ensure that issues of concern to pension scheme members are appropriately prioritised and acted upon, in accordance with our investment beliefs and objectives.
Accordingly, MPF has a long-standing track record of engagement with companies that the fund holds investments in. This is primarily conducted via our membership of the Local Authorities Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) but also, on occasion, via direct engagement with relevant companies. LAPFF’s engagement work covers a broad spectrum of global human rights issues, encompassing modern slavery in global supply chains to the impacts of mining operations on local communities in Brazil. LAPFF is a member of the Investor Alliance on Human Rights, which is currently leading an investor engagement with companies with operations in Myanmar.
When credible concerns about human rights or breaches of international law are raised, MPF considers it right and proper that these are taken seriously with due regard to the legal framework and the principles of natural justice. MPF is mindful of the responsibility of investors to respect human rights as set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, of which the UK Government was a leading proponent.
Regarding MPF investments in companies with reputed commercial links to the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) which are generally regarded as contrary to international law, committee members have been presented with detailed advice and guidance via reports and workshops on the overall framework in which MPF conducts its responsible investment policy and the specific issues relating to the OPT.
Based on this, officers have taken a view that further company engagement is required before any decision can be properly made on the Fund’s continued investments in those companies. This advice forms the basis of the recommendations to Pensions Committee on this matter at its meeting on 23 February 2022.