Norway’s largest institutional investors have confirmed plans, backed by the country’s Ministry of Finance, to push the country’s top companies to report to a public set of standards on issues such as the environment, labour and human rights, after Responsible Investor revealed their intentions last month. The standards could significantly change the way investors receive such information if rolled out for investors to use in other countries as scheduled. The collaboration called Sustainable Value Creation represents assets of NOK2.7 trillion (€340bn), of which NOK1 trillion is directly invested in the Norwegian market. The participants are Alfred Berg , DnB NOR , Folketrygdfondet, Gjensidige, KLP, Nordea, the Norwegian Ministry for Trade and Industry, Odin, Oslo Pensjonsforsikring, StatoilHydro Kapitalforvaltning, Storebrand and Vital.
The investors have addressed a survey to all companies listed on the Oslo Børs Benchmark Index asking them to report on sustainability against four criteria: overall policies and commitments, implementation and adherence, communication and reporting, and board accountability. The results will be made public in November.Kristin Halvorsen, Norwegian Minister of Finance, said: “Never before has such a broad group of investors in collaboration collected and compared the companies’ performance within these areas. This makes the project unique and very exciting. What we are doing in Norway is noticed internationally. It is therefore a pleasure to see that we can collaborate on developing these issues further. The project also has an international ambition and this is very promising. Jeanett Bergan, project manager for Sustainable Value Creation and head of responsible investments at KLP, the Norwegian life insurer, said: “Raising the board’s and the management’s awareness in regards to human and labour rights, corruption and the environment, is a crucial objective of this project.”
The Norwegian investors are planning to publicly release the information requirements to encourage other European investors to receive the same data from companies in their home markets. Investors have recently begun to question whether the data they receive from companies matches their needs for making informed investment decisions based on ESG criteria. In July, Responsible Investor revealed that the Frankfurt-based
European Federation of Financial Analysts Societies (EFFAS), could shortly adopt a set of 30 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for environmental, social and governance issues and long-term viability that investors can promote amongst corporations in a bid to get clear and comparable data. Investment analysts say they cannot get enough financially relevant and comparable information on ESG issues from companies, despite projects such as the Global Reporting Initiative, which aims to get firms to report uniformly on sustainability issues.