In brief: Swedish pension funds scrutinise big tech

The Council on Ethics, which supervises the sustainability activity of AP funds one to four, has laid out its sustainability priorities.

AP funds one to four, through their Council on Ethics, have laid out five sustainability priorities. While the priorities only explicitly apply to the funds’ public markets activity, they may offer useful insight to private markets managers on the group’s current sustainability priorities.

The Council on Ethics was founded in 2007 by the First, Second, Third and Fourth Swedish national pension funds (AP Funds). Its role is to initiate “dialogue aimed at encouraging non-Swedish listed companies to make improvements in sustainability”, according to its website.

The council said in an announcement that it focused on five areas in 2023: antimicrobial resistance; child labour and forced labour; climate; big tech and human rights; and water.

The AP Funds are active private markets investors, with commitments to a number oif managers including impact funds. Sandwater (AP1), New Forests (AP2), Verdane (AP3) and Just Climate (AP4) are among the managers to receive commitments from the group for impact strategies. All four pensions collaborated to invest in a electric vehicle batteries project developed by Northvolt in 2022. The council did not respond when asked by New Private Markets whether the council’s activities relate to private markets.

On the group’s work on big tech and human rights, council head Jenny Gustafsson said: “Social media is playing an increasingly important role in society and brings many benefits but also several challenges in relation to human rights. In March 2023, the council launched a partnership with some 30 institutional investors with over €7,000 billion under management. These investors will work together for positive change in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.”