Annual Report 2019

February 2020

Cases (Deep Track) 

It was stipulated in the Agreement that during the period it covers approximately six Cases will be investigated with the aim of tackling and preventing the adverse social impact of investments. These are Cases in which the other Delegations can possibly assist the pension funds in addressing and reducing adverse impacts within the investment chain. 

The Cases working group consists of representatives of all the Delegations: the pension funds and the Federation of the Dutch Pension Funds, NGOs, trade unions and the Government. Each can contribute a Case, which can concern a listed company, a sector, or an issue. 

During the first year, the working group selected two Cases on the basis of the selection criteria specified in advance in the Agreement:

  • The adverse impact of the Case must be serious;
  • The joint investigation should provide added value for the Case and allow different parties to contribute their specific expertise;
  • The Case must address actual and potential adverse impacts on fundamental labour rights and human rights, such as freedom of association, forced labour, and children’s rights;
  • Cases must act as examples and be instructive, so that the investigation has a broader relevance for the entire pension sector and other Delegations.

Case 1 Mining 

The first Case was announced in mid-2019; it concerns a multinational, listed mining company. In practice, mining involves hazardous and uncertain working conditions and conflicts, often related to outsourcing and sub-contracting. Frequent violations of human rights include pollution of the living environment, forced relocation, pollution of water sources, violence by security guards, and inadequate consultation of those involved. 

The Case focuses on various activities of the company in one country and later perhaps in several. In this Case, the Parties combine their knowledge and network to strengthen the engagement of pension funds, so that the company concerned can improve its policy and practice.

What is going on

One of the reasons for investigating this Case is the expansion of a local mine at a new location, forcing dozens of families in the area to move. The pension funds receive information from their data suppliers and from the company about the plans, the situation, and the measures taken. The trade unions and NGOs receive information from their local counterparts. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs asks the local embassy whether this information can be supplemented, for example with information about the latest political and social developments. That information has been compiled and in some respects appears to be contradictory. The challenge is to validate the information and, in consultation with the local partners and the company itself, to identify opportunities for improvement. 

Start of engagement

Engagement with the company concerned has now begun and the Parties have shared what they know about it. They also jointly prepared the initial meeting that the pension fund held with the company at the end of 2019. The focus is on two issues, namely land rights and working conditions. Consultation is primarily in writing and by phone. In the course of 2020, there will also be a visit so as to talk to those involved on the spot and to examine the actual situation. By collecting the information from multiple sources and combining the knowledge and strengths within the Agreement, pension funds are in a stronger position in their discussions with the company. The goal is to bring about improvements in the company and its value chain through cooperation.

The Case will continue for the next two years. The site visit will be followed by on-site progress monitoring and a joint assessment of the investigation. The pension funds will continue their engagement on the basis of the investigation results. The local partners will continue to provide (local) information in support of that engagement.

Case 2 Palm oil 

In the second Case, the Parties are focusing on the palm oil value chain. The Case concerns a multinational listed company that is a large-scale purchaser of palm oil and a producer of palm oil. The issues in this sector are human rights and labour rights, such as land rights, freedom of association, low wages, health and safety, forced labour, gender discrimination, and child labour. The Parties are currently working on a plan to pool their knowledge and apply it in the course of engagement. Treatment of this Case is therefore still in its early stages.