UN PRI appoints former Norway finance ministry official as new chairman

Martin Skancke to take over in April as organization reviews governance system amid criticism

The UN-backed Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI), which is fighting accusations from its membership of authoritarian behavior, has appointed a former Norwegian finance ministry official as its new chairman.

Martin Skancke, who designed the Norwegian Pension Fund during his time as head of asset management at Norway’s finance ministry, will take over as chairman of the PRI’s advisory council, the organization’s top governance body, on April 1. He replaces Wolfgang Engshuber who served three years with the PRI after working as the chief administrative officer of Munich Reinsurance America.

‘I look forward to being part of the next phase of the PRI’s development and making sure the PRI delivers maximum value to its signatories,’ Skancke says in a PRI press release. ‘In a few short years, the PRI has grown to become an influential global investor network driving the development of a more responsible and sustainable model of capitalism. Active ownership is part of the solution to building and protecting wealth for current and future generations.’

The appointment comes as the PRI faces criticism of its own governance, with many of the complaints coming from Scandinavian members citing ad hoc decision making and a lack of transparency. Six Danish investors quit the PRI in December saying they ‘observed with concern that the governance of the PRI organization does not live up to the basic standards we as investors would expect of the companies in which we invest.’

The PRI last month launched a review that could increase transparency, simplify governance structures and boost the accountability of PRI management to the body’s signatories. The organization issued a request for proposals last month seeking an independent person or organization to carry out the review.

‘The PRI is committed to ensuring this review is carried out to the highest standards of independence, impartiality, transparency and accountability, and that its findings and recommendations – along with any subsequent changes to PRI governance as a result of the review – are clear, practical, understood and supported by signatories via our decision-making processes,’ the organization said when launching the review process.

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