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The residents of the village of Nyakabale in Tanzania are afraid of what they are eating, drinking, and washing in. They are next-door neighbours to East Africa’s largest gold mine and are convinced that poison from the mine is making them sick.
“If the Norwegian Government Pension Fund – Global sells off its shares in the tobacco industry, this will create a precedent and a model that it can be done and it should be done for ethical reasons,” Stella Bialous, independent expert and senior adviser to the World Health Organisation, stated.
Last summer Norwatch revealed that Fokus Bank had invested in 10 of 19 ill-reputed companies excluded from the Government Pension Fund – Global. Now the bank has finally started cleaning up.
The Norwegian Government Pension Fund – Global has invested 11,2 million euro in the Chinese dairy company China Mengniu Dairy Company, which has sent dry milk containing the poisonous material melamine out on the market.
The Norwegian Government Pension Fund – Global continues to be invested in a series of companies that are heavily involved in Burmese economy. The Advisory Council on Ethics does not, in fact, recommend exclusion. “This is disappointing. The ethical guidelines are clearly not satisfactory, but we don’t have time to wait. Parliament can, however, overrule the Advisory Council’s decision by means of a political resolution”, Inger Lise Husøy of the Norwegian Burma Committee told Norwatch.
The Government Pension Fund – Global has invested heavily in the company Barrick Gold, which has made billions of Norwegian kroner by mining copper, silver, and gold on the tropical paradise island of Marinduque in the Philippines. The poverty-stricken local population was left with an environmental and health catastrophe. The company is now fighting in the courts to avoid having to clean up.
The Norwegian «Government Pension Fund – Global» has invested 193 million euros in pharmaceutical giants that produce preparations used in lethal injections in American prisons. An American organization that is working to abolish the death penalty has asked the Pension Fund managers to intervene.
The Petroleum Fund is increasingly investing in tobacco. Norwatch’s examination of the Pension Fund’s new portfolio shows that 1.29 billion euro is invested in an industry that obstructs an active health policy in developing countries and that obtains constantly more of its profits from the poor part of the world. In 1 year the tobacco investments have increased by 44.2%.
Producers of cluster weapons care little about investors who boycott companies for ethical reasons, because financial institutions still queue up to invest. Stronger measures are needed, according to international organisations: it must be illegal to invest in cluster weapon producers.
The Norwegian Government Pension Fund – Global (also called 'The Petroleum Fund') is still investing in the weapons producer Textron, which is on the Human Rights Watch list of cluster-weapon producers. Textron produces the high-technology “smart” cluster weapons known as CBU-97 and CBU-105. The Advisory Council on Ethics believes such advanced cluster weapons do not leave behind unexploded bombs and therefore do not constitute a humanitarian problem.
An active investment policy and divestments have pressured the Marriott hotel chain into taking child prostitution seriously. But the Norwegian Petroleum Fund never withdrew from the Marriott chain after the prostitution scandal in Costa Rica. Nor did The Bank of Norway participate in a joint investment initiative to get rid of the odious practice. The lack of transparency makes it impossible to ascertain whether The Bank of Norway has done anything whatsoever.
Cluster weapons are becoming an unpopular investment. This autumn the Norwegian Government Pension Fund withdrew from seven companies that produce cluster weapons, including EADS. In the meantime EADS has gotten out of the cluster weapons company TDA, but it continues to produce nuclear weapons.