Sustainable investment: how faiths can respond to the cry of the poor and the cry of creation

William Heath writes

A global multi-faith investment alliance that could shift billions of dollars into sustainable initiatives was agreed at a three-day meeting of faith leaders and financial investors in Zug, Switzerland this week. The Zug Faith in Finance summit was organised by Bath-based charity ARC (the Alliance of Religions and Conservation), and attended by 30 faith groups from eight major traditions.

Martin Palmer of ARC leads a procession of faith leaders through the streets of Zug to launch the Zug guidelines to faith-consistent investing.

According to Church Times

Religious institutional funds make up about $10 trillion of all invested funds, and make up at least the fourth largest investment group worldwide, the UN has estimated. A further $30 trillion is owned by members of the world faiths, both individuals and family foundations.

Moving from “negative screening” to a more positive approach with shareholder engagement and impact investment could put significant momentum toward the UN’s 2030 sustainable development goals. “Work with us”, said assistant UN secretary general Elliott Harris in Zug. “Make this sustainable agenda a reality. That, I think will be one of the great achievements of this generation.”

Cardinal Turkson said that action on sustainability the necessary response to two cries: the cry of the poor, and the cry of creation. “I believe very much in education of people in how to invest money, and in how to make informed choices so what you invest in is something good.”

British Quakers were represented at the summit by Susan Seymour who contributed faith investment guidelines for Britain Yearly Meeting. Rathbone Greenbank, which does investment management for British Quakers, participated also, alongside other investment management companies.

William Heath is senior adviser to ARC.

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