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Mar 06, 2023

Data collection for GRI Biodiversity Standard remains challenging, Norway’s SWF says

Fund manager issues response to public consultation

Norway’s huge sovereign wealth fund has welcomed revisions to the GRI Biodiversity Standard but says collecting data from suppliers may remain challenging.

In a letter to the Global Sustainability Standards Board, Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) - which manages the $1.2 tn oil fund - says the challenges arise from ‘complex supply chains and lack of direct control’ over business partners.

The letter is a response to the board’s public consultation on the exposure draft of the revised GRI Biodiversity Standard, first published on December 5, 2022.

Although NBIM recognizes and supports GRI’s intentions regarding sustainability reporting standards, the fund manager encourages the organization to consider how the standard can take ‘more fully positive’ impacts and biodiversity gains into consideration.

Carine Smith Ihenacho, NBIM


To help companies get to better grips with the changes, GRI could look at the ‘locate, evaluate, assess and prepare’ (Leap) approach, under development by the TNFD, NBIM explains. The Leap approach, which provides guidance to companies on their nature-related risk and opportunity assessments, could help preparers in this prioritization exercise, the fund says.

The letter is written by NBIM staffers Carine Smith Ihenacho, chief governance and compliance officer, Elisa Cencig, senior ESG policy adviser and Snorre Gjerde, lead investment stewardship manager.

It reads: ‘Interoperability among standards helps ensure comparability and consistency of disclosure across companies and reduce duplicative reporting requirements, in turn providing decision-useful information for investors and other stakeholders.

‘While our starting point as an investor in assessing companies’ sustainability information is financial materiality, we encourage companies to disclose the broader environmental and social consequences of business operations, and to use GRI standards in doing so.’

NBIM recently announced that it had ramped up its focus on human capital and other social issues in discussions with companies during 2022. According to a report on its engagement practices, NBIM held 516 company meetings in 2022 where human capital was discussed, a big jump from 301 the previous year and just 133 in 2020.