VBDO AGM themes for 2020

AGM season 2020

For 25 years, VBDO has been attending some 40 annual general meetings of shareholders (AGMs, or AVA’s in Dutch) of Dutch listed companies. We want the impact of our engagement to be as big as possible. That is why we prioritize themes that we and our members consider important, every three years. These are themes that can increase the sustainable performance of companies, are material to most of the companies and have an innovative character. Finally, they must have a link to an ESG criterion. Three theme’s are chosen; an environmental theme, a social theme and a governance theme.

The themes are determined on the basis of input from our members, experts and the companies to be visited. After the end of the AGM season, we present our impact in the AGM engagement report.

Below is a brief description of the AGM themes for 2020. Climate adaptation is an engagement theme for the second year, working conditions in the chain and diversity are the new themes for 2020.

Climate adaptation

Climate adaptation is the umbrella term used to deal with the consequences of climate change. The term describes both susceptibility to the negative effects of climate change and dealing with any positive effects. VBDO expects companies to identify risks and opportunities of the physical consequences of climate change for their own operations and in the chain. To make climate risks manageable, companies must develop climate adaptation strategies. Companies will need to demonstrate that these strategies are context specific, subject to local stakeholder consultation and that the company investigates the climate resilience of communities where it operates.

Comprehensive climate adaptation strategies ensure that the company is resistant to the impact of direct (acute and short-term) climate risks, such as heavy rainfall, heat stress and water stress. But it also means: being resistant to indirect (chronic and long-term) climate risks, such as GDP growth, degradation of ecosystems and migration.

Working conditions in chains

Companies influence human rights in whatever place or wherever they operate. VBDO expects companies to subscribe to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and to subject the working conditions of employees in the chain to this. Companies can best work proactively within the sector, with local stakeholders and NGOs. They also need to collaborate with suppliers to improve due diligence practices, set relevant goals, and setup KPIs to measure progress.

Diversity

The VBDO is of the opinion that Companies must reflect the social environment in which they operate. Inclusive societies are formed by equal access to information, paid the same for the same work and equivalence of decision-making authority for everyone and especially for excluded groups. VBDO expects companies to develop a comprehensive strategy for diversity and to develop relevant objectives and KPIs for measuring progress.

AGM 2020 report and webinar

The 2020 AGM season has come to an end. The results of this season can be found in our most recent AGM report: AGM Engagement Report 2020: Momentum – 25 Years of Engagement. The webinar in which the results of the season are discussed, can be found here.