Background

KENFO's mission to integrate its sustainability criteria into its systems is based on investment guidelines issued by the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF). The investment guidelines dated 27 June 2017, issued by the BMF as a general administrative regulation on the basis of Section 9 Para. 2 (1) of the German Nuclear Waste Management Act, stipulate in Section 4 Paragraph 3 Sentence 1 that KENFO’s board of managing directors should integrate ESG (environmental, social, governance) criteria into the investment strategy. 

In addition, the German Bundestag has asked the Federal Government not to invest in projects, companies, bonds or institutions that are contrary to the German parliament’s higher-ranking decision of phasing out nuclear energy (in accordance with the decision of the German Bundestag on 14 December 2016 (BT-Drs 18/10671).

How does KENFO's sustainability approach work?

The consideration of sustainability criteria in the investment process should help to ensure the tasks and goals of KENFO defined in the German Act on the Nuclear Waste Management Fund. The sustainability strategy is an integral part of the investment strategy. It is intended to achieve good, long-term returns and stable long-term performance. The investment strategy is based on a balanced, broadly diversified portfolio. A specific concept to take ESG criteria into account is developed and implemented for each asset class within the strategic asset allocation. Wherever possible and reasonable, the fund refers to internationally recognized ESG norms and standards. 

The effects of entrepreneurial activity on the environment and society, as well as good corporate governance, are important parameters of sustainable investment. Sustainable business models can help to achieve long-term, above-average, risk-adjusted returns. Sustainable investment criteria based on risk considerations are particularly important for investors like KENFO with a long-term perspective. Companies whose business policies are based on short-term success and are not geared towards sustainable goals involve considerable risk of loss to investors. We therefore want to make investments that are geared towards a sustainable generation of performance. 

KENFO's sustainability approach is largely implemented in a decentralized fashion, whereby external asset management companies are tasked with managing investments according to ESG principles. They typically work with qualified ESG data providers of their choice to incorporate sustainability metrics. This way, KENFO is able to benefit from established cooperation processes between external asset management companies and ESG data providers/ratings agencies, and is able to stay abreast of new developments in the field of ESG management. On the other hand, this approach gives KENFO the opportunity to benefit from the global dynamism of sustainable capital markets and in particular the continuous further development of ESG rating approaches and also to support the competition between the best rating concepts.

The asset management companies and investment advisors being mandated have proven expertise when it comes to integrating ESG criteria into the investment process. The selection process for the investment universe integrates the sustainability criteria (known as “ESG screening”). For example, each time bonds and equities are purchased, it is ensured that the selected investments are not subject to the predefined exclusion criteria (such as UN Global Compact violations or being nuclear power plant operators) and, at the same time, are among the best in their industry. Companies are analysed and evaluated based on a variety of industry-specific and other relevant ESG criteria. The companies rated with best ESG-scores within their industry branch will be included in the liquid investment universe.

How does KENFO's sustainability approach work?

Our focal points in the area of sustainability

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy in the area of sustainability. KENFO aims to take ESG criteria into account in all liquid and illiquid asset classes when selecting assets. The sustainability approach is in line with our performance goals. We want to balance our (direct and indirect) investment decisions and our ESG goals in such a way that return potential is preserved when the foundation's assets are invested. In this way, we can pursue the foundation’s purpose without placing a burden on future federal budgets.

Sustainable investing is a dynamically developing area. The individual steps in the sustainability approach are implemented directly by the associated asset management companies for the liquid investments. The companies generally have competencies, computing capacities and licenses from multiple data providers. This means that KENFO does not have to commit to one ESG ratings agency or data provider and its databases. By doing so, KENFO benefits - in addition to cost savings - from the high level of dynamics that results from improving data quality and data availability in this business area, which is still new.

KENFO’s sustainability approach is based on the following general principles when making investment decisions:

UN Global Compact is the world's largest and most important initiative for responsible corporate governance. Companies are excluded from investment if they violate one or more of ten of its core principles. This includes compliance with recognized human rights and international labour standards, protecting the environment and combating corruption. The exclusion also includes companies from industries that are excluded from the UN Global Compact as signatories because they violate its statutes relating to corporate misconduct.

UN Principles of Responsible Investing (UN PRI). The global investor initiative PRI works in partnership with the financial initiative of the UN environmental program UNEP and the UN Global Compact. More than 1,400 companies from 50 countries around the world have joined this initiative. Together they have an investment capital of more than USD 59 trillion. With their signature, capital owners, asset managers and financial service providers undertake to observe environmental and social criteria, as well as aspects of corporate governance in all of their activities.

Exclusion of nuclear power and supporting of climate goals. The fund excludes investments and participations in nuclear power station operators and in companies that control nuclear power station operators. When investing its resources, the fund will not act in a manner that is contrary to the phasing out of coal-based power generation. As part of its statutory mandate, KENFO supports investments in decarbonization in order to achieve climate targets to be achieved. When investing its resources, the fund will not act in a manner that is contrary to the phasing out of coal-fired power generation, which the coal commission is aiming for and which has a broad social consensus behind it.

Net zero asset owner alliance

KENFO has been a member of the net zero asset owner alliance (AOA) since February 2020. This organization was founded by the United Nations at the UN Climate Summit in New York in September 2019 and is the most important international initiative involving various major investors in the fight against global warming. KENFO is the first sovereign fund in the world to commit to the Paris Agreement and to making its investment portfolio climate-neutral by 2050. 
With a joint commitment by large asset owners in the AOA, KENFO is sending a strong signal to achieve the climate goals through a transformation in all areas of the economy.

“We will not only achieve the Paris climate goals through political commitments; but we also need to take decisive action. Companies will also have to contribute an important part: I therefore very much welcome the fact that large institutional investors are supporting the century goal of achieving climate neutrality with their investments. By joining the Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance, the German sovereign fund KENFO is committed to its responsibility of generating sustainable and long-term returns for the financing of the nuclear waste management.”

Jürgen Trittin, Member of the Board of Trustees of KENFO

„Joining the Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance is not only an expression of an obligation to make the KENFO portfolio climate-neutral by 2050. It is also a pragmatic step. Joining the AOA enables access to constantly evolving know-how for analytical approaches, IT tools and professional rating procedures and reduces the effort for in-house development. I welcome this solution-oriented exchange of large institutional investors as an important contribution to the transformation of the real economy on the path to climate neutrality.“

Andreas Feicht, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

„Germany is currently setting the course for a sustainable and climate-friendly future. As the first sovereign fund worldwide, KENFO is clearly committed to climate neutrality and supports Germany on its way to becoming the leading sustainable finance location."

Dr. Jörg Kukies, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance