Norway’s sovereign wealth fund has backed an industry venture to improve working conditions across the clothing manufacturing sector, part of Norges Bank Investment Management’s (NBIM) focus on child labour.
NBIM, which manages the NOK7.5trn (€783bn) Government Pension Fund Global, said it hoped its support of the Social and Labor Convergence Project would further the development of new industry standards across clothing and footwear manufacturers and “lead to better market practices and a more sustainable industry”.
In a letter to the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, responsible for the project, Petter Johnsen, NBIM’s CIO for equities, and William Ambrose, global head of ownership strategies, said they expected the undertaking to achieve “real, sustainable change” by developing new metrics to assess social and labour performance.
“Norges Bank Investment Management regards participation in the project as a way to further enhance our long-term strategy and work on children’s rights issues,” the letter says.
“Child labour is a particular issue for the apparel sector, with children working at all stages of the global apparel supply chain.”
The letter argues that child labour must be assessed in the “broader context” of social and human rights.
NBIM has long been active on the issue of child labour, in 2009 highlighting the “overall low” level of compliance with children’s rights, and more recently touching on the matter in a more wide-ranging document on its approach to human rights.
In other news, a report has called on companies to explore “innovative” means of funding projects with a positive environmental outcome.
The report – ‘Levering Ecosystems’ – backed by Credit Suisse and the Climate Bonds Initiative, examines how companies can generate returns while rehabilitating or conserving the environment.
“Government policies and programmes that catalyse business interest are also being developed and implemented,” the report says.
“Governments and development agencies have an incentive to promote investment in ecosystem conservation projects as a means to lower remediation costs.
“In the public sphere, these investments can be funded either directly or through initiatives that leverage private funding. Such investments may be cheaper than future economic damage from inaction.”
The report notes that conservation can be supported through the financing of projects that improve farming standards, or improving resource management through the use of tax credit-enhanced debt.
“Innovative thinking can lead to the creation of projects with positive environmental outcomes and enhanced productivity,” the report continues.
“To the extent environmental footprints move closer to being recognised as assets and liabilities by companies, debt can be used to fund specific investments in ecosystems that lead to net-positive financial outcomes.”
Lastly, the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) has become the first stock exchange to join the Climate Bonds Partnership Programme.
Nikhil Rathi, the group’s chief executive, said it was a “committed supporter” of green financing and the transition to a low-carbon economy, as it was a “major industrial trend”.
“Developing London as a leading international hub for green finance is vitally important to the city and a key driver behind the launch of our dedicated green bond segments last year,” Rathi said.
Sean Kidney, chief executive of the Climate Bonds Initiative, said LSEG was “uniquely positioned” to provide market-based knowledge to the partnership.
“We anticipate working cooperatively on joint projects that build and strengthen the position of green bonds in providing global climate finance solutions,” he said.