So, hey, you know how Norway has a bunch of oil it mostly sells off to other countries? Well, basically, the Norwegian government throws the profit money from the sale of that oil into a sovereign wealth fund (commonly called the Oljefondet, i.e. “Oil Fund”) that it then uses to fund social welfare programs.

Oh, and it also invests it. Like, by buying into private companies. Which isn’t too unusual, as far as sovereign wealth funds go. What does make Norway unusual, however, is that it refuses to be a passive investor; when it buys into a company, it buys voting shares and it will use them, generally to promote things like company transparency and environmental sustainability.

If you’re used to the US model (also found in, for example, Australia) of “government gets nothing, private equity takes it all”, the idea that, a) a nation-state can actively manage the profits from its own natural resources, as opposed to allowing private companies to sell them off for private gain, and b) that the government can be an active agent in directly influencing private capital might seem like anathema. But, thing is? It works. Norway’s model totally, totally works.