OSLO (Reuters) - The ethics watchdog for Norway’s $1-trillion wealth fund will focus this year on shipbreaking on India’s beaches, which endangers workers and pollutes the sea and sand, and will also look into pollution caused by pharmaceutical companies.
The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, created from the proceeds of Norway’s oil industry, operates under ethical guidelines set by parliament. The fund’s Council of Ethics checks that companies the fund invests in meet these ethical standards. It set out its latest priorities in its annual report published on Wednesday. Johan H. Andresen, chair of the Council on Ethics, said the watchdog would turn its attention to shipbreaking in India.
The fund owns shares in 9,158 companies, 1.4 percent of the world’s listed equity, so decisions to drop or reinstate companies from its investments carry considerable weight among investors.
It is forbidden by law from investing in companies that produce nuclear weapons or landmines, or are involved in human rights violations, among other criteria.
Some 71 companies are presently excluded on recommendations by the Council on Ethics, on various grounds. Another 69 companies are excluded directly by the central bank based on their dependence on thermal coal.