Omar Shaikh (UKIFC) and Martin Palmer (Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC)) appeared on BBC Radio Scotland’s Sunday Morning with Ricky Ross to discuss a new and innovative partnership between the organisations which aims to promote a major shift in international ethical finance. ARC, UK-based international NGO linking religions with environment initiatives, was founded in 1996 by HRH The Prince Philip and current Secretary General Martin Palmer.
The agreement came after a delegation from ARC spent two days in Edinburgh, attending the UKIFC’s 15th Ethical Finance Round Table as well as meeting with representations of the Ethical Finance Hub, Scottish Government, Church of Scotland and others to discuss the possibility of a new faith-consistent investment unit being based out of the Hub in Edinburgh.
ARC has been working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and faith groups from across the globe to explore the development an international faith-consistent investment alliance which seeks to address the challenges and opportunities posed by the SDGs. The UN recognises that traditional aid channels and funds are not sufficient or sustainable sources of finance to deliver the SDGs. The potential of the faiths, however, is significant.
Every religion has values and teachings that accord (in different ways) with at least some of the visions expressed in the SDGs. Faith investments (pensions, endowments and other portfolios) represent at least 12% of the total global capital market an estimated further 30% owned by people who are active followers of the major religions. Until recently, whilst some faith groups had negative screening policies (eg not investing in armaments or tobacco), almost none had proactive / positive investment policies (of what they would actively invest in to support a better future world in the future eg sustainable energy).
The UKIFC will join ARC’s steering group meeting at the UN office in New York on March 26 2018. The aim of the meeting is to discuss the purpose and structure of the proposed faith-consistent investment alliance and whether and how it might operate from three global centres, which might include the Edinburgh Ethical Finance Hub and possibly a centre in Zug, Switzerland.
ARC will also work with the UKIFC and the Church of Scotland to support the development of shared values framework, to be launched in autumn 2018, by bringing in other faith groups to ensure the values are widely ratified.