OSLO (Reuters) - Norway’s $1-trillion sovereign wealth fund and U.N. children’s agency UNICEF have established a network among companies in the garment and footwear industry to help strengthen the rights of children, the fund’s manager said on Friday.
While the fund has long sought to combat child labor, the new network also aims to look at broader issues that could be affected by companies and their products, such as standards of living, access to education, basic hygiene and pollution.
“We have been focusing on children’s rights and child labor for 10 years, and we see this as a natural development,” a spokesman for Norges Bank Investment Management, which operates the fund, said.
More than 10 companies in which the fund has holdings will attend the first network event in Geneva on Nov. 27.
The plan is to hold three workshops over the next two years, as well as quarterly meetings.
Swedish fashion retailer H&M, Gucci owner Kering and VF Corporation, which owns Wrangler, Timberland and other brands, are among the companies included in the network, the fund said.
It declined to provide the full list of participants.
The fund, which invests the proceeds of Norway’s oil and gas production, expects companies it invests in to have policies on issues such as child labor, human rights and environmental consideration.
A report commissioned by a group of nine NGOs including Amnesty International and Save the Children in August urged the fund to be more forceful in promoting its ethical agenda and influencing the thousands of companies it invests in.
Reporting by Camilla Knudsen; editing by Terje Solsvik and Jason Neely