San Lie: My vote goes to nature and to our pension funds

San Lie: My vote goes to nature and to our pension funds

Pensionfunds Politics ESG
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This column was originally written in Dutch. This is an English translation.

By San Lie, Director of ASN Impact Investors

The polls will open again tomorrow. I am curious about the results of these House of Representatives elections. In recent weeks, the party leaders have been able to make their points with ease. Points that we will see reflected in a coalition agreement, whether or not in a weakened form.

Because yes: the Netherlands is a coalition country. Parties that want to participate in negotiations will have to make compromises. And this time it's a lot of old wine in new bottles, but also a lot of 'new' faces, with or without an old message.

Towards other forms of practising politics

I am also just as curious about the turnout. Confidence in politics and government has been declining for years. How could that happen? Perhaps it is time to look for other forms of practising politics. Designed less around the parties and individual politicians, and more around best ideas, and in which the general interest really do come first.

When I think of the general interest, I think of a sustainable, just world, in which peace and security reign, universal human rights are respected and we can meet the (im)material needs of both the current generation and those of future generations.

Voting rights for nature

But perhaps we should not let the path towards a sustainable future with an economy in balance with nature depend solely on our personal vote. Actually, we should give nature itself the right to vote. Nature is infinitely better informed than we are about what is needed to avoid climate extremes and strengthen biodiversity. Nature would also make much better political choices, in balance with the entire ecosystem.

Now I am not advocating that we should debate trees. But still, nature has already been given legal personality in several countries. This gives rise to rights that prevent its interests from being harmed. Lawyer Jessica den Outer wrote a book about it, Rights for Nature: in New Zealand the Whanganui River was given rights, in Europe Spain led the way in granting rights to the polluted Mar Menor lagoon. And just last week, Limburg's Eijsden-Margraten became the first municipality in the Netherlands to grant nature legal personality.

Investors with a longer horizon than politics

The more rights nature has, the greater the chance of a sustainable future. A stimulating thought. But in addition to nature, there are other players with a vision of the future, a longer horizon than politics and the means to invest in it for the long term. Exactly: the investors who use our pension funds for that future.

Supporters of pension funds also vote

And my confidence grows every day that they want to take the steps to tackle the major sustainability challenges, on the way to a better world of tomorrow and the day after. As asset managers, we cannot vote for them, but we can use all the expertise we have to translate their policies into well-returning sustainable investments.

The supporters of pension funds will also be doubting tomorrow with a red pencil in their hand. If we were to present them with the choice of a sustainable pension thanks to the efforts of our sector, I am sure which box they would turn red.

San Lie is Director of ASN Impact Investors. The information in this column is not intended as professional investment advice or as a recommendation to make certain investments.