Our motivation for responsible investment is to achieve the highest possible return with moderate risk. Companies’ activities have a considerable impact on society and the environment around them. Over time, this could affect their profitability and so the fund’s return. We therefore consider both governance and sustainability issues, and publish clear expectations of companies in the portfolio.
Standards establish common ground across markets and raise the bar for all companies. We participate in the development of international standards and expect the companies we invest in to comply with them.
The fund has a small stake in more than 9,000 companies worldwide. We exercise our rights and discharge our obligations as an owner with a view to long-term value creation at these companies.
Environmental, social and governance issues can affect the value of the companies we invest in. We work on identifying, measuring and managing risks and opportunities that could impact on the fund’s value.
We publish clear expectations of the companies in our portfolio should address global challenges in their corporate governance. These expectations largely coincide with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Children are the key to future prosperity but also society’s most vulnerable members. A fund for future generations cannot accept the exploitation of children.
Climate change may impact on corporate earnings and portfolio returns over time. It may also bring business opportunities.
How companies manage water risks and tap related opportunities may affect our long-term return as a shareholder.
Respect for human rights is a natural part of good business practice and risk management.
Complex and opaque ownership and organisational structures hamper transparency and can undermine investors’ financial analysis.
As a financial investor, we expect companies to have clear guidelines and take effective action to combat corruption.
Some economic activity has a negative impact on the ocean. In the long term, this will reduce companies’ profitability. It may also create business opportunities.
Voting is an important tool for protecting the fund’s value. We aim to vote at all general meetings of the companies we invest in. As a large, long-term investor, we also engage directly with individual companies’ board and management on a regular basis.
The Norwegian parliament has decided that the fund should not be invested in companies that contribute to violations of fundamental ethical norms, manufacture certain types of weapon, base their operations on coal, or produce tobacco. The Ministry of Finance has issued guidelines and set up an independent Council on Ethics to assess companies and make recommendations on exclusion and observation.
Norges Bank Investment Management itself may take the decision to divest from companies that impose substantial costs on other companies and society as a whole, and so are not long-term sustainable. These might be companies with business models that do not align with prevailing technological, regulatory or environmental trends.
We have prepared guidance for responsible management of real assets related to environmental, social and governance matters. The guidance documents serve as a starting point for our interaction with investment partners and asset managers that we co-invest or contract with.
In 20 years, the fund has grown to become the largest single owner in the world’s stock markets. At a virtual event August 2020, CEO, Yngve Slyngstad, Chief Governance Officer, Carine Smith Ihenacho, and Head of Governance, Jonas Jølle, took us through our experience as an investor in 9,000 companies, and discussed how we went from a small, reluctant owner to a large, active owner. They also took a virtual travel to meet Professor Alex Edmans at the London Business School and Paul Simpson, CEO of CDP. They talked about the role of large investors, responsible business conduct and the development of international standards.
How we exercise our rights and manage our responsibilities as an owner has evolved rapidly over the past 20 years. In this publication, we share our experience as an investor in over 9,000 companies. The fund started out as a reluctant owner. Today, we vote at more than 11,000 shareholder meetings and have nearly 3,500 meetings with companies every year. We publish expectations of companies that make clear our priorities as a long-term owner. We contribute actively to the development of international standards on responsible business conduct.
The coronavirus pandemic has stress-tested companies around the globe. As the world's largest shareholder, we have seen this at close hand. All in all, we held 2,877 meetings with companies in 2020. We also voted on 121,619 resolutions at shareholder meetings and began to publish an explanation whenever voting against the board's recommendation.