Public ownership and morality : proposed investment guidelines of the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund : a Christian ethical perspective
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The Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund (the Fund), established in 1996 and based on income from petrochemical natural resources, is today one of the largest owners of investment assets in the world. The Fund as owner in a large number of companies is frequently involved in activities that can be criticized as unethical or violating human rights and international law. The Fund established ethical guidelines and an ethical board in 2004 (Guidelines), to monitor the investment activity from an ethical perspective, and advise the Fund‘s managers to withdraw from investments if the ethical guidelines were breached. The ethical Guidelines (2014) are unclear in their philosophical and moral foundations, and the following thesis is an elaboration on possible ethical principles to be utilized by the Fund, seen from a Christian-ethical perspective. Following a white paper from the ministry of Finance to the Parliament (Report 19, 2013), the question of the ethics of the Fund‘s investment practice is currently debated among the Norwegian political parties and non-political organizations with newfound actuality. In the following investigation it will be elaborated what are acceptable Christian-ethical norms pertaining to central aspects relevant for investment activity and ownership exertion, how these norms connect to historical and contemporary philosophies, and what would be a prudent norm set to adhere to in the Fund‘s extant and future investment activity. The Christian-ethical principles developed will be under the Reformed paradigm, and examples of how these will connect to investment decisions will be demonstrated. A new investment system will be introduced where the focus is on constructive societal participation through capital investment, as opposed to the current Guidelines that merely express what is viewed as unethical and thus should be avoided. This new investment system is termed Reoriented Investment Protocol (RIP) to indicate the main underlying ethos and its practical applicability. A recommendation to the Fund will be rendered pertaining to how RIP can be practiced and put into operation.
- Theology