After years of resistance from the indigenous Sami community, Swiss energy company BKW had a rethink about its investment in a Norwegian wind power project that could adversely affect traditional reindeer grazing pastures.
The Norwegian court had rejected a first complaint from the community in the name of public interest. The project has been completed even though legal proceedings are still ongoing.
The wind farm project was realised thanks to Swiss backing from Credit Suisse and energy firm BKW. After long negotiations, BKW agreed to revise its code of conduct and develop its due diligence on overseas projects. An opt-out clause will be added to contracts, allowing BKW to cut ties with partners if violations are identified and not satisfactorily addressed.
While the commitment made by BKW is too late to help the Sami reindeer herders, it could serve as a template for Swiss firms looking to invest or partner in energy and infrastructure projects abroad.
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