Lars Heikensten, Executive Director of the Nobel Foundation, answers questions about the investment guidelines of the foundation.
Does the Nobel Foundation have ethical investment guidelines?
The Nobel Foundation has for a long time had guidelines regarding ethics and sustainability. According to these guidelines, no investments were to be made in equity and fixed income in companies that violate international conventions (controversial weapons is one example).
In November 2016, we joined the UN initiative Principles for Responsible Investments (PRI) and have thereby committed to incorporate broader environmental, social and governance factors into our investment decisions.
In March 2017, the Board of the Nobel Foundation adopted more ambitious guidelines. These guidelines incorporate among other things exclusion of companies with business related to nuclear weapons from our equity and fixed income investments. When it comes to alternative investments we have a dialogue with our current managers where we encourage them to divest.
Our new policy underlines the importance of engagement in environmental issues and climate change.
What is your take on investments in fossil fuels?
Our new policy states the importance of engagement in environmental- and climate change issues and we take an active stance against company practices that drive climate change.
In practice, we have a dialogue with existing mangers and generally don’t make any new investment with equity or fixed income managers that don’t include climate change as a criterion when evaluating companies. In our passive funds, we have taken a first step against excluding companies with a high share of their profits coming from coal mining.
Do you have investments in nuclear weapons?
The more ambitious guidelines adopted in March 2017 states that the Nobel Foundation should not, within equities or fixed income, invest in companies with business closely related to nuclear weapons. Our current investments have since then been analysed based on these guidelines. As a result, some investments have been terminated and we have an ongoing dialogue with remaining investment managers regarding how to terminate the investments concerned. Decisions will be taken at the latest in March 2018 to terminate all investments in equity funds involved in companies dealing with nuclear weapons.
How do you plan to work with sustainable investments in the future?
We place high demands on ourselves when it comes to ethical and sustainable investments and our ambition is to continuously take steps forward in this field.
We do emphasise dialogue with our investment managers essentially because we are convinced that this approach will have the biggest impact, in particular for a financially small actor as the Nobel Foundation.
We are now also starting to look actively for a way to invest directly in funds or projects where we can have an impact, new technologies for renewable energy could be a good example.
Do you make your investments public?
Yes, we make our investments public once a year in our annual report, normally by the end of April. Next year we also intend to publish our ethics and sustainability guidelines.
How big is the fund managed by the Nobel Foundation?
4.2 billion Swedish krona.