For nearly a decade, EPA Victoria and VicSuper have worked in partnership under the sustainability covenant framework.
In 2011 EPA started a significant transition to refocus on our core regulatory responsibilities, resulting in the release of our 5 Year Plan.
EPA has reviewed all its partnership agreements to identify whether they support the delivery of the 5 Year Plan. As a result of this review and discussions between both organisations, it was agreed to close out the covenant partnership.
EPA is very proud of the work it has been able to do with VicSuper and, despite the conclusion of this Covenant, recognises the leadership that VicSuper shows in the superannuation sector.
The first sustainability covenant with VicSuper, signed in May 2003, was the first to be endorsed under new provisions introduced to the Environment Protection Act in 2002. It emphasised that superannuation and sustainability are natural partners that can work together to create positive and necessary change in the long term for the benefit of superannuation fund members, the economy, society and the environment.
More specifically, the aims of the VicSuper sustainability covenant were to:
- give statutory recognition to the leadership VicSuper displays in the superannuation industry through its sustainability program
- give a framework for VicSuper to continue to maximise current sustainability practices and future sustainability opportunities
- encourage developments in this area and assist in moving the rest of the superannuation industry further towards sustainability practices and products.
The partnership established under these sustainability covenants has enabled EPA to recognise VicSuper’s environmental sustainability leadership under a statutory agreement.
In 2005, EPA and VicSuper agreed to sign a second sustainability covenant, committing both organisations to further develop the sustainability practices and future sustainability opportunities of VicSuper and the superannuation sector.
Highlights of the partnership
Through the life of the covenant, VicSuper made significant progress in building a sustainable superannuation fund. The Covenant has given VicSuper access to resources and ideas to further develop the learning and development of staff about sustainability and the role it can play in enhancing their jobs and their lives outside work.
Below are some of the main achievements that were made for which EPA Victoria provided specific assistance.
- VicSuper, with the support of EPA, published The VicSuper Carbon Count, a measurement of the carbon emissions, exposures and intensities of international and Australian listed equities and used the results from this to estimate the carbon emissions of the listed equity portion (if applicable) of each member’s account balance for inclusion on member benefit statements.
- In 2006, VicSuper hosted a variety of events with former US Vice President Al Gore as the feature speaker. These events were supported by EPA and came at a critical time in the growing public awareness of climate change. Functions included a breakfast for business and community leaders, an afternoon stakeholder function and a public event in the evening. More than 2500 people attended these events.
- VicSuper also hosted a series of seminars on climate change and superannuation for members in regional areas, with EPA’s support. Speakers at these seminars were Rob Gell, Graeme Pearman and Bob Welsh.
- VicSuper made its company operations carbon neutral by first measuring, reducing and then offsetting all significant greenhouse gas emissions. EPA provided guidance to VicSuper in developing an approach consistent with their Carbon Management Principles (a framework for managing greenhouse gas emissions using a continuous improvement approach).
- VicSuper continued its participation in EPA Victoria’s Carbon Innovators Network. Through this network, VicSuper has access to information and tools relating to carbon management as well as opportunities to share information with other organisations that are managing their carbon emissions.
- VicSuper undertook membership of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) in Australia which is managed by EPA Victoria, including involvement on the UNEP FI Australasian working group, the UNEP FI Asia Pacific Task Force, and its Water and Biodiversity work streams.
- Throughout the life of the covenant, VicSuper continued its ongoing publicity of the link between sustainability and superannuation through participation in public forums, VicSuper's website and other communication mediums.
The sustainability covenant documents
Past covenant activities
For more information go to the VicSuper website or contact EPA.