Ethics Council for Norway’s €600bn NGPF hires Sustainalytics for research

Council is known internationally for its exclusion recommendations to sovereign wealth giant.

The Council on Ethics that advises Norway’s NOK5.1trn (€597bn) Norwegian Government Pension Fund (NGPF), one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds and responsible investors, has hired Sustainalytics for ESG screening of its investments and access to its research database. The Council, which is known internationally because it recommends which companies NGPF should blacklist for ethical violations from its portfolio of 9000 companies, started the public tender process in late 2013 to find the providers of ESG research that backs up its decisions. The divestment decisions by NGPF are accompanied by thoroughly researched position statements by the Council and are hugely influential on the ethical policies of other investors around the world. The Council Chair is Ola Mestad, dr. juris and Professor at the Centre for European Law, University of Oslo. GES, the Stockholm headquartered ESG research company, previously provided the Council’s product screening for four years until the latest appointment decision. A spokesman at the Council said it re-tenders for the business every four years. The Council said that Sustainalytics, headquartered inAmsterdam, will provide the raw data and access to database and identification of companies for its investment screening criteria. As reported earlier, RepRisk, which is headquartered in Zurich, was re-appointed for the provision of its media monitoring and corporate risk service, and access to its database. A report published in November last year by a high-level Strategy Council on responsible investment recommended that the Council on Ethics be integrated into the investment operations of the central bank’s Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM). It said the “resources and competencies” of the Council on Ethics should be absorbed into NBIM, which runs the fund, and that exclusions and ownership strategies should be carried out by the bank. The report has so far not led to any decision in Norway on the future of the Council of Ethics, which was created by royal charter back in 2004. The other members of the Council are Bente Rathe, an economist who sits on numerous Norwegian corporate boards, Marianne Olssøn, an attorney and Partner at the law firm Mageli ANS, Dag Olav Hessen, Professor of biology at the University of Oslo, and Ylva Lindberg, Managing director of SIGLA, a sustainability consultancy.