Norges Bank adds Huw van Steenis and ConocoPhillips director to climate advisory board

Nature Conservancy CEO and chair of oil and gas industry body also join board, which will assist NBIM in climate risk management.

norway

Norwegian sovereign wealth fund Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) has appointed four ESG and climate experts to its newly formed climate advisory board, which has been created to help the fund develop its approach to integrating climate risks.

The appointees come from across finance and industry. Huw van Steenis, former chair of UBS’s sustainable finance committee and current vice-chair of Oliver Wyman, is joined by Jennifer Morris, CEO of the Nature Conservancy, and Jody Freeman, professor of law at Harvard Law School and independent director at ConocoPhillips.

The other new board member is Bjørn Otto Sverdrup, chair of the executive committee for the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, a group of oil and gas CEOs working on the industry response to climate change.

The sovereign wealth fund had outlined its plans to establish the board in its 2025 climate action plan, which was published in September.

The plan set out steps to manage climate risk, including increasing collaboration with other investors, and divesting companies with unmitigated climate risks, as well as engaging on net-zero targets, transition plans and emissions reductions. The aim of the advisory board was described as “challenging us and supporting our high ambitions”.

Carine Smith Ihenacho, chief governance and compliance officer at NBIM, said the appointees will provide “a wide breadth of relevant climate expertise spanning academia, civil society, sustainable finance and business”.

“We are confident they will help us maintain leadership in managing climate-related risks as an owner of companies through the climate transition,” he added.

Van Steenis told Responsible Investor that he was honoured to join the advisory board. “Having witnessed Norges’ success for many years now, I understand the value of collaboration in deep investment research – and the enhanced investment outcomes it can help shape,” he said.

NBIM described the four appointees as “external members” but did not respond when asked whether any internal members had been appointed.

Ministry of Finance response

Also today, NBIM published its response to the Norwegian Ministry of Finance commission report on the implications of national and international economic and political developments.

The fund mostly agreed with the recommendations of the commission. Among the points responded to was an observation by the finance ministry that if NBIM was restricted from investing in companies or countries for ethical, security or political reasons, this could have an effect on return and risk characteristics.

NBIM commented that any restrictions on these grounds must be reflected in its benchmark index.

If an entire country were to be excluded by the fund, as was the case with Russia, NBIM said that it would not be able to make significant changes to the portfolio in a crisis or sudden serious event, pointing to its experiences with Russia.

The fund also agreed with the commission’s view that, while transparency is important when talking about investment activities, Norges Bank “should be careful about expressing anything that could be taken as criticism of the authorities in other countries and thus touch on foreign policy”.