Norges Bank Investment Management, the fund manager of Norways 2 trillion kronor ($385 billion) Government Pension Fund-Global, has launched a campaign against child labor.
While childrens rights have been a part of its ethical principles for years, officials at the Oslo-based fund in March stepped up efforts by publishing clearly stated guidelines to raise awareness among other institutional investors and asset managers, said Anne Kvam, head of corporate governance at NBIM.
Preventing child labor has a clear link in safeguarding the social rights of children, Ms. Kvam said in a telephone interview, which is crucial in the long-term sustainable development of economies. If we dont safeguard the rights of children, the consequences could be damaging to the long-term (investment) returns in those economies.
According to NBIM Investor Expectations on Childrens Rights, there are about 218 million children worldwide between the ages of 5 and 17 who are working in unfair conditions, with 126 million working in hazardous conditions. Ms. Kvam estimates NBIM officials have approached about 60 companies out of a total of more than 7,000 companies in which the fund invests to improve governance structures to prevent child labor.
It will take time to establish a dialogue that will hopefully result in companies establishing better systems and structures. Five years from now, we hope the number of companies that are at risk (of child labor violations) will be reduced, Ms. Kvam said. This isnt happening in a vacuum; were just one of many voices.Thao Hua