In a recent hearing at the Finance Committee of the Norwegian parliament, “Stortinget”, the Ethics Committee proposed to exclude the cannabis industry from the investments of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) commonly known as the oil fund. The fund has already divested from the tobacco industry. However, the alcohol industry is still receiving substantial investments through the GPFG.
But the investments made by the oil fund in the alcohol industry are undermining the goals and objectives for global health and development that Norway works to promote through its development assistance policy. The very countries supported by Norway’s development assistance face a disproportionally high burden due to the products and practices of the alcohol industry. For example, in Africa, one in four deaths under the age of 40 is caused by alcohol. The alcohol industry is specifically targeting these countries as emerging markets.
The Oil Fund’s investments in alcohol companies undermine Norway’s own goal of the Agenda 2030, especially goal three of good health for all,” said Ida Oleanna Hagen, Secretary General of FORUT at the Finance Committee hearing as per FORUT website.Ida Oleanna Hagen, Secretary General, FORUT
The Norwegian government is indirectly enabling the harm caused by products manufactured, marketed and sold by the alcohol industry by investing Norwegian public funds in the alcohol industry.
In 2020, the GPFG invested NOK 124 billion in alcohol producers, this is a significant increase from NOK 94 billion in 2017 and four times higher than NOK 30 billion in 2010.
In 2019, Forut, IOGT, Juvente and Blue Cross launched the “Oil Fund’s Alcohol Problem” campaign exposing GPFG investments in the alcohol industry and campaigning for divestment of the oil fund from Big Alcohol.
At the recent hearing with the Finance Committee heart-driven Movendi International member organization IOGT Norway, along with FORUT and Actis called for the oil fund to divest from the alcohol industry.
FORUT is the specialized development organization of the IOGT movement in Norway, owned by IOGT, Juvente and Juba – all the organizations are members of Movendi International. Actis is the Norwegian Policy Network on Alcohol and other Drugs, an umbrella NGO where IOGT is a member.
We in IOGT believe that the massive investment in alcohol companies is very problematic, and ask the Finance Committee to ensure that the Government Pension Fund Global divests from such companies,” said Nils Johan Svalastog Garnes.
We justify this with the following arguments.”Nils Johan Svalastog Garnes, policy advisor, IOGT Norway
- Exclude cannabis for psychoactive use in line with the proposal in Report to the Storting 24.
- Ask the Ministry of Finance to give the Ownership Committee of Norges Bank an assignment to study the basis for withdrawing the GPFG from alcohol companies as has already been done for tobacco.
- Ask the Council on Ethics to investigate whether the alcohol companies’ use of unethical advertising (among other things aimed at children and young people) and improper interference in national and international policy processes is a basis to withdraw investment from alcohol companies.
We view positively the Government’s proposal to exclude investments in companies that produce and sell cannabis for psychoactive purposes. In addition to being a good proposal, this also shows that the exclusion of a product that leads to addiction and a high risk to public health is possible.”Nils Johan Svalastog Garnes, policy advisor, IOGT Norway
The KLP pension fund in Norway has already divested from the alcohol industry since May, 2019.
IOGT Norway: “The oil fund out of the cannabis industry” [Translated from Norwegian]
FORUT: “The oil fund must leave the alcohol industry” [Translated from Norwegian]