Shetland Islands Council took a step towards more ethical investment of its funds on Wednesday when councillor Gary Robinson gained unanimous support for a motion he put before the executive committee last week.
The motion will see the authority adopt the United Nations’ Principles on Responsible Investment into its newly approved investment strategy. This means that the council’s pension fund as well as its wider investments must in future be managed by fund managers who have signed up to the charter.
Mr Robinson said: “The six principles of responsible investment recognise that environmental, social and corporate governance issues can affect investment performance and the aim is to positively influence companies to operate in an ethical fashion and adhere to international initiatives such as the UN Global Compact.”
Fund managers will be expected to discuss socially responsible business practices with the companies in which they invest and report back on their responses.
Previously there have been fears among councillors that ethical investing could have a negative impact on the council’s investment returns. However Mr Robinson believes his proposal offered a way forward for ethical investment while maintaining vital income for the authority.
Long-time advocate of ethical investment councillor Jonathan Wills said he was delighted that ethical investment was now being taken seriously by the council. He added: “I congratulate Gary for this success after four years of hard arguing. For too long the council and its pension fund have made dirty money out of shares in tobacco companies and firms who sell arms to dictatorships. I hope the new council will make sure this policy is put into effect without delay.”