Stockholm (NordSIP) – Just a week into his role as Board Director at PRI, Wilhelm Mohn, Global Co-Head of Corporate Governance at the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), shares with NordSIP his thoughts on the task ahead. “I am both thrilled and humbled at the same time,” he says. “After all, PRI remains ‘the’ initiative for responsible investors.” As a founding signatory, the organisation Mohn represents, Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM)/GPFG, has been continuously involved in developing the principles and has thus contributed to the acclaimed status that PRI has achieved over the years. “I am proud of this history,” says the new Director. “PRI has come a long way since 2006. Yet, I believe it can go further still as the next decade will be crucial for sustainability and prosperity alike,” he adds.
Electing Mohn to the Board of PRI comes hardly as a surprise to those familiar with the Norwegian’s academic and professional achievements. Since 2009, Mohn has been involved in the development, setting and operationalisation of the responsible investment strategy of GPFG, both at NBIM and the Norwegian Ministry of Finance. The Oxford-trained economist has been collaborating with leading finance scholars on the topic of climate change through research grants provided by NBIM. He regularly speaks at public events on sustainable finance and responsible business conduct and sits on many advisory groups and committees. Apart from PRI, he has also contributed to working groups led by international organisations such as OECD, IFSWF, and WEF, and in secretariats of Norwegian public committees.
Given the broad and diverse spectrum of sustainability issues that Mohn is involved with, it is understandable there is more than one particular area that he aims to focus on at PRI. A coherent picture of the complex sustainability landscape seems important to the new board director. “All the issues are intricately interrelated,” he says. “Engaging with a company on climate change might lead you to examine their deforestation practices and how they deal with biodiversity. From there, the segue to human rights can be quick. And ultimately, you need to pay attention to transparency as it underlies all the rest,” explains Mohn.
Mohn finds the all-encompassing nature of PRI quite attractive. “I think a core strength of the organisation is its ‘big tent’ approach,” he says. “It is open to signatories of all types, sizes, and geographies, joined by a shared commitment to the principles and an ambition to drive responsible investment forward,” he adds. And although he is a strong advocate of harmonising sustainability standards, Mohn is careful to point out that we should not assume everyone needs to have the same priorities or end up in the same place.
A case in point is the variation that exists among the Nordic countries. Mohn admits he might not be the best person to talk about sustainability trends back home from the distance of his London office. Yet the vantage point has also sharpened his perception of the nuances that distinguish how responsible investors in the region prioritise. According to him, Norway was an early mover on normative principles for exclusion and observation. In Sweden, he is impressed by how the AP funds practice active ownership, especially when it comes to human rights. Danes, on the other hand, are global leaders in respect to tax and transparency.
Mohn seems excited and eager to start, preparing for his first board meeting at PRI after a soft launch. “It is such a great point of time to dig into all the pressing questions at hand,” he says. “The momentum is certainly there, and there is plenty to be done. I plan to be an active, engaged, and approachable board member. I look forward to meeting new people and learning from them. And I aim to be a good partner to my colleagues at the Board of PRI, challenging yet constructive,” concludes Mohn.
 The Norwegian Ministry of Finance is responsible for the management of GPFG. The operational management of the fund is carried out by Norges Bank.