Norwegian pension fund accused of benefitting from child labour

A human rights activist has accused the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) of investing in companies that use child labour and has demanded that they divest.

Fernando Morales-de La Cruz has challenged the Norweigan Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, to investigate the claims of 'Barnegate' (Childrengate) claiming that the Ministry of Finance, the Council on Ethics and Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM, which administers the fund, could have made a decision to stop investing in companies that use child labour earlier; he also claims that the fund potentially still invests in companies that abuse rights.

Morales-de La Cruz has long campaigned against child labour, and has previously taken the European Union and the coffee industry to task over payment to producers. He said he has chosen to focus on Norway as its government pension fund now has assets under management (AUM) of over $1.4trn worldwide. The country also has a commitment to respect children's rights throughout the world, in addition to international law.

When asked for a comment by European Pensions, NBIM communications manager, Line Aaltvedt, stated: “Children’s rights has been a focus area for the fund for years. Respecting children’s rights is an inherent part of good business practice and risk management, and we expect companies to integrate children’s rights into their policies, corporate strategy, risk management and reporting.

"In 2008, we issued an expectation document on children’s rights, which outlines our expectations on this matter. This document serves as a starting point for our interaction with companies on children’s rights. We expect companies to address this topic in a manner meaningful to their business model and wish to support them in their efforts.”

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