By Brian Collett — Finance groups and other stakeholders are to debate the ways in which large European investors can use their funds to support responsible business and be accountable for their actions.
At the same time they will consider how citizens and their organisations can have a voice to influence investment to back the Paris climate change agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which promote ethical responsibility on issues such as poverty and employment.
Another aim will be to guide politicians in shaping regulation that makes Europe’s investment industry competitive while serving the public interest.
The arguments will be aired at a conference in The Hague on September 14 and 15 called by ShareAction, a London-based association of companies, pension funds and others promoting responsible investment.
ShareAction believes that today “the conditions are right to achieve a greater shift of the system, towards the delivery of investment practices that truly serve savers, society and the environment”.
The association insists, however, that huge efforts are needed to put forward a “compelling vision” for European investment driving sustainable business worldwide and reinforcing Europe’s position as a global leader, and to build collaboration on responsible investment among heads of business.
The second day’s discussions will be conducted by the European Responsible Investment Network, a multi-stakeholder group created last year on ShareAction’s initiative.
The network, with headquarters in London, consists of 25 organisations from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and the UK.
It embraces sustainable investment associations, ethical banking groups and NGOs.
Catherine Howarth, chief executive of ShareAction, said at the formation: “The responsible investment landscape has changed dramatically in the last ten years, but much remains to be done to embed sustainable thinking and practice in the strategies of European pension funds and other large investors.
“Civil society has a critical role to play in driving progress. We are both proud and excited to be playing a role in uniting civil society to advance responsible investment in Europe.
“Together these groups have the potential to make Europe a global leader in the field.”
The speakers at the conference, ShareAction’s first in Europe, include Laurence Tubiana, the French diplomat who is chief executive of the European Climate Foundation, and Fiona Reynolds, director of Principles for Responsible Investment, the UN’s international network encouraging ethical financing.