Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), which manages Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), has called for a major set of sustainability standards to include indicators about actual outcomes of work companies do to improve human rights.

The Oslo-based manager of the NOK10.3trn (€963bn) sovereign wealth fund made the suggestion in its response to the Global Sustainability Standards Board’s (GSSB) consultation on revisions to the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) Universal Standards, which ended on Wednesday.

In the letter published on NBIM’s website, the division of central bank Norges Bank said it was commenting specifically on responsible business conduct and human rights disclosures, saying it saw this as an important addition to the GRI Universal Standards.

NBIM welcomed the proposed revisions, including a clarification of the focus of the GRI standards, revised definitions of key concepts such as ‘impact’, ‘material topic’ and ‘stakeholder’, as well as a proposal that firms reporting according to the standards would no longer have a choice between core and comprehensive options.

“We believe these proposed revisions will contribute to more comparable and comprehensive sustainability reporting by companies,” the manager said.

While supporting the revisions, Carine Smith Ihenacho and Wilhelm Mohn, chief corporate governance officer and head of sustainability at NBIM, respectively, who signed the letter, also said: “It would be helpful for the GRI to also include quantitative and qualitative indicators on the outcomes and effectiveness of companies’ efforts to address potential and actual negative impacts.”

The pair said they encouraged the GSSB to consider including such indicators in both the universal and topic standards.

Smith Ihenacho and Mohn also said they supported the Valuing Respect Project of US non-profit organisation Shift, which they said aimed to develop more meaningful ways of evaluating business respect for human rights - and outcomes for people in particular.

“Over time, we expect a clearer and more complete picture of indicators measuring outcomes and effectiveness to emerge,” NBIM said, adding that this underlined the need for a dynamic approach to standards for human rights disclosure, where metrics gradually crystallised.

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