World’s biggest sovereign fund pleads to save oceans

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OSLO, Sept 5, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Companies should be doing more to protect
the world’s oceans, including combatting plastic waste pollution, Norway’s
sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest, said on Wednesday.

“The ocean is a vital part of the biosphere and an important part of the
global economy,” said Yngve Slyngstad, the head of the fund valued at 8.66
trillion kroner (890 billion euros, $1.03 trillion).

“We expect companies to manage the challenges and opportunities related to
sustainable use of the oceans,” he added.

A heavyweight on the global finance scene, the Government Pension Fund
Global published a document outlining what it expects from the 9,000
companies in which it holds stakes.

Among other things, it urged them to integrate environmental ideas into
their business strategies, suggesting for example that plastics producers
plan a transition to a “circular economy” frugal in raw materials, and that
fisheries companies incorporate forecasts on future stocks in their planning.

The recommendations apply to companies active at sea — shipping,
fisheries, fish farms — as well as others on land whose activities may
affect the oceans, such as distribution and plastics industries and
agriculture, the fund said.

The fund has in the past laid out its expectations on other issues,
including better efforts in water management, anti-corruption, human rights
and tax transparency, judging that bad practices in these fields can
ultimately hurt companies’ profitability.

On Wednesday, the fund also published a document reviewing its support of
the United Nations sustainable development goals.

“Our most important contribution is to strengthen governance, improve
performance and promote sustainable business practices,” Slyngstad said.

In addition to its expectations based purely on financial considerations,
the fund also follows ethical guidelines that bar it from investing in, among
other things, companies that commit serious human rights violations,
manufacture nuclear or “particularly inhumane” weapons, or those in the coal
and tobacco industries.

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