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The Nobel Foundation admits investments in nuclear weapons

The Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Olav Njølstad, admits that the Nobel Foundation is invested in companies that produce nuclear weapons, but promises to divest within 12 months.

Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Olav Njølstad in a radio debate 26. October 2017 with Anja Bakken Riise, head of Future of our hands.
Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Olav Njølstad in a radio debate 26. October 2017 with Anja Bakken Riise, head of Future of our hands.

The Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Olav Njølstad, admits that the Nobel Foundation is invested in companies that produce nuclear weapons, but promises to divest within 12 months.

Njølstad admitted that the Nobel Foundation is invested in nuclear weapons during a radio debate 26. October 2017 between him and Anja Bakken Riise, director of Future in Our Hands. At the same time, Njølstad informed that the Nobel Foundation introduced new ethical guidelines in March this year, guidelines that ensure that no new investments are made in this type of company and that they will dispose of existing investments within twelve months. 

The guidelines will, according to Njølstad, be focusing on companies involved in nuclear weapons and other types of weapon banned by international law (like cluster bombs), but also on controversial companies related to climate change.

“We are finally seeing some transparency and a clear commitment from the Nobel Foundation,” says Anja Bakken Riise, Director of Future in Our Hands. “It is a wise decision to be transparent about these investments, and it is extremely important that they now choose to divest.”

“We are happy to congratulate the Nobel Foundation with their decision to finally disclose this information,” says Anja Bakken Riise, and states that this is particularly relevant this year when the Nobel Peace Prize goes to the international campaign ICAN. ICAN works specifically for the abolishment of nuclear weapons.

“We have been asking the Nobel Foundation to provide clear answers regarding these investments for a long time. We applaud their decision to divest,” says Bakken Riise, adding:

“Future in our hands -Norway has identified a number of other controversial companies in the investments made by the Nobel Foundation, where we believe the Foundation should divest. We look forward to reading the Foundation's new ethical guidelines, and we will of course keep an eye on how the Foundation chooses to implement their new guidelines regarding these investments.”

Already in 2005, Future in Our Hands revealed that the Nobel Foundation lacked ethical guidelines. We disclosed that the Foundation kept their portfolios secret and were unwilling to exclude investments in cluster weapons, deliveries to the US military industry and several other companies which were excluded by other Norwegian fund managers at the time.

In 2017 we repeated our survey and established how the Foundation, which holds more than 4 Billion Swedish Kronor (or more than 460 Million US Dollar) through various funds, still lacks comprehensive ethical guidelines and has limited openness about its investments. The survey also found that the Foundation was invested in the weapons manufacturer Saab, several tobacco companies blacklisted by the Norwegian Government Pension Fund, and several controversial coal and oil companies as well. In addition, the investigations showed that it is highly likely that the Nobel Foundation is invested in companies that have been excluded by the oil fund due to the production of nuclear weapons. This includes the companies Airbus, Boeing, Safran and Northrop Grumman Corp. Thursday night, Olav Njølstad confirmed these findings, and also, for the first time, informed that the Foundation has adopted ethical guidelines. 

“An exclusion of nuclear weapons companies is an important first step for the Nobel Foundation. And at the same time, we will monitor how the guidelines will implement questions regarding climate change – ten years after the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change received the Nobel Peace prize,” concludes Anja Bakken Riise.

Contact: Anja Bakken Riise, Future in Our Hands, + 47 454 38 340

Future in our hands is Norway´s largest environmental and solidarity organization. We have been monitoring investments made by the Norwegian oil fund, banks and other institutions for the last 20 years.

Read more on nobel investments here

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