Ethical guidelines

Responsible investing

The Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) has been subject to guidelines for observation and exclusion since 2004. The guidelines have since been further developed, most recently in 2021 on the basis of recommendations in NOU 2020: 7 Values and responsibility - The ethical framework for the Government Pension Fund Global.

There are two ethical obligations in the management of the GPFG. First, the management of the Fund shall be managed in ways that seek to secure lasting value creation for current and future generations of Norwegians. Second, the Fund shall avoid being invested in companies that cause or contribute to serious violations of ethical norms. The purpose of the guidelines for observation and exclusion is to comply with the second of these obligations. The guidelines rests on fundamental ethical norms that maintain broad support in the population, such as human rights, workers' rights and International Environmental Conventions. The guidelines are set by the Ministry of Finance and endorsed by the government and the Parliament (Stortinget).

The guidelines state the criteria that form the basis for companies to be excluded or put under observation. The criteria include both products that are not considered ethically acceptable, such as tobacco, cannabis, certain types of weapons and coal, and company behaviour that involves gross ethical violations. The conduct-based criteria encompass violation of human rights, sale of weapons used to violate international humanitarian law, corruption and other financial crime, environmental damage and greenhouse gas emissions and other violations of fundamental ethical norms.

An independent Council on Ethics (etikkradet.no) appointed by the Ministry of Finance submits recommendations on the exclusion and observation of companies from the GPFG under the ethically motivated guidelines]. Decision-making authority rests with the Executive Board of Norges Bank. For the coal criterion, the Bank may make decisions without any recommendation from the Council on Ethics. Before exclusion is decided, the Bank shall consider whether other measures than that recommended by the Council on Ethics may be suited for reducing the risk of continued violation of norms, or may be more appropriate for other reasons. The Bank shall consider the various tools at its disposal in relation to each other and use these in an integrated manner.

Norges Bank publishes which companies are excluded or subject to observation (nbim.no), and the Council on Ethics publishes its recommendations. The Ministry of Finance reports annually to the Parliament (Stortinget) about the Council on Ethics and Norges Bank’s work with the guidelines, see Meld. St. 24 (2020–2021).