By Chris Lang, 16th November 2011
“It has long been a fact: Norway is saving rainforest with one hand and destroying the rainforest with the other,” wrote Lars Løvold of Rainforest Foundation Norway recently. The problem is that while Norway has promised billions to save the rainforest, the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) is investing in companies that are destroying the rainforests.
The US$525 billion GPFG is often referred to as the Oil Fund, because the money came from Norway’s income from oil. The Fund is managed by Norges Bank Investment Management, an arm of Oslo’s central bank whose chief executive is Yngve Slyngstad. Løvold writes that, “Finance Minister Sigbjørn Johnsen and Oil Fund manager Yngve Slyngstad have greater influence on the rainforest than the Minister for Environment and International Development, Erik Solheim.”
Løvold’s article came shortly after a letter from Rainforest Foundation Norway and the Environmental Investigation Agency to Norway’s prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg. The letter notes that Norway agreed in Cancún to address its role in driving deforestation. Although several companies have been excluded from the GPFG on ethical and environmental grounds, the Fund’s investments remain Norway’s biggest contribution to deforestation.
Rainforest Foundation Norway and EIA make two recommendations. First, to set up an inter-departmental working group to ensure that GPFG investments are be compatible with reducing deforestation, rather than increasing it. And second, to commission a study on how GPFG’s investments drive deforestation and what can be done to change this.
Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global is both the largest and the most transparent sovereign wealth fund in the world. Thanks to Norway’s freedom of information laws, the letter and the briefing from Rainforest Foundation Norway and EIA are publicly available. They are posted in full below.