- Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) manages the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global, which has funds invested in some 9,000 companies in 75 countries.
- As far as NBIM is concerned, the responsibility to respect human rights applies to all companies.
- NBIM outlined its expectation that companies not only integrate their human rights policies into their operations, but that they also report on their human rights performance on a regular basis and establish grievance mechanisms for individuals and communities impacted by their operations.
Norway’s pension fund, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, has made it clear that it expects companies to respect human rights in all of their operations and across their entire supply chains.
Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) announced a new policy this morning that outlines how it expects companies it invests in to address human rights issues in their business practices. NBIM manages the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global, which has funds invested in some 9,000 companies in 75 countries.
As far as NBIM is concerned, the responsibility to respect human rights applies to all companies.
“Companies’ operations have impact on employees, as well as contract workers, workers in supply chains, customers, communities and the environment around operations,” the policy states.
“End-users of products or services may also be affected by companies. It is broadly accepted that companies have a responsibility to respect human rights, including in supply chains and other business relationships. Respecting human rights is, more generally, part of good business practice and risk management.”
NBIM points to the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 2011, as a good starting point for companies’ human rights strategies. But ultimately, the policy says that it is the duty of companies themselves “to decide how and to what extent the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and other relevant principles and guidelines apply to their operations.”
“Our expectations are especially relevant for companies with direct operations, supply chains or other business relationships in high-risk sectors, high-risk geographical areas, or otherwise high-risk operational environments,” according to the policy.
NBIM also outlined its expectation that companies not only integrate their human rights policies into their operations, but that they report on their human rights performance on a regular basis and establish grievance mechanisms for individuals and communities impacted by their operations, as well.
Nils Hermann Ranum, head of policy and campaigns at non-profit Rainforest Foundation Norway, said that the new policy is “an important step” in the right direction, and that he is especially happy to see that the managers of Norway’s pension fund will require companies to ensure that human rights are respected not only in their own operations but also in their supply chains.
“We expect NBIM to use its role as a huge investor to improve companies’ track record on human rights, and divest from companies that consistently ignore or fail to respect human rights,” Ranum in a statement.
NBIM’s new human rights policy is also a key new tool for civil society, Ranum added.
“This can help organizations like ours — and society at large — to hold both NBIM and the companies it invests in worldwide accountable,” Ranum said.
“We’re very pleased to see that NBIM is explicit about its expectation that all of the companies it invests in respect human rights and that they should lay strategies, monitor and report in an integrated and comprehensive fashion.”