The Norwegian Pension Fund Global’s (NPRG) Council of Ethics is seeking access to databases monitoring the environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance of companies worldwide, allowing it to screen investments held by the NOK4.4trn (€542bn) fund.

The Council, which advises on firms that should be excluded from the fund’s investment universe, is tendering for access to a database that monitors company performance and criticism of individual firms.

Additionally, service providers should be able to identify companies within the NPRG “where there may be an unacceptable risk the company contributes to or is itself responsible for certain conducts” listed in the fund’s exclusion guidelines.

This would include the production of tobacco, or weapons that violate “fundamental humanitarian principles.

The tender added: “Applicants are encouraged to apply for all three services collectively, although applications for screening services (exclusively) or database and identification (together) will also be accepted.

“Applicants wishing to bid for the database and monitoring services or for the screening services exclusively should state this clearly in their submission.”

It added that the database would be used to compile lists of companies the Council would monitor more in-depth, and that it should draw on sources in at least five languages – English, Spanish, French, Chinese and Russian.

Additionally, the database should have a “substantial” overlap between the companies monitored and those in which the NPFG invests.  

The four-year contract will run until the end of 2017, valued at NOK1m per year, and requests to participate should be submitted by 13 November.

Ola Mestad, chair of the Council, recently told the EIRIS 30th anniversary conference in London that its job had become easier over the last few years, as it was “easier now to get the facts”.

Speaking of the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, employed to monitor company behaviour in the past, he said: “That is really the place where you can get the allegations and a reply.”

He also told the conference that ESG risked becoming superficial as a growing number of companies put in place guidelines “and very often I get the feeling they don’t really follow it”.