Ethical banks call for positive vision of the financial system
Ethical banks from around the world have called for a fundamental transformation of the financial system to create greater stability and make people its focus.Von: NNA News
The 22 members of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) used their fifth annual meeting in Berlin in March to launch their Berlin Declaration 2013 on “Transforming the financial system for stability and a focus on people”. Looking beyond the impact of the financial crisis of recent years, the GABV banks demanded that regulation of financial markets should focus primarily on a positive vision for the global banking system beyond fixing the consequences of the financial crisis. Speaking at the opening press conference to launch the declaration, Peter Blom, Chair of the GABV and CEO of Triodos Bank, said that the last thirty years had been characterised by a development in which banks were mere profit-oriented businesses. Everyone had accepted that: banks, governments and customers. Making as much money as possible was “business as usual.” But that “banks are not traditional enterprises which must aim to achieve maximum profits for their shareholders but perform a broad social function – such a change in outlook will require time.” “Once that role has been understood, the necessary change in culture will also develop,” Blom added. The declaration highlights three key aspects of value-based banking: transparency, sustainability and diversity. Clients and depositors of banks needed and deserved transparency on how the client’s money was used and how their business model works. “Only with transparency can trust be restored and people be aligned with the financial system and how it can serve them,” the declaration says. And it continues: “All banks must provide full transparency on their business models and use of client funds using common standards to be set by independent experts such as the Global Reporting Initiative.” Secondly, banks played a crucial role in the transition towards a more sustainable economy. Therefore social and ecological criteria had to play a critical role in the creation and use of financial products. The declaration calls on all banks “to use indicators to report social and ecological impact which should also be used within the regulatory framework.” Finally, the diversity of economies, cultures and community needed a diverse network of banks. Governments and regulators had to include a diversity of banks as an important goal in the process of reframing regulations for the financial sector. Thomas Jorberg, CEO of GLS Bank, which organised the meeting and its associated conference, and also a member of the GABV steering committee, told the assembled journalists at the press conference that a series of steps towards value-oriented banking had already been taken by the sustainable banks – and not just in one country, but globally: “Change is taking place, at least among the GABV banks,” he said. At the following GABV conference, high profile speakers including Norbert Lammert, president of Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, the Czech economist Tomáš Sedlácek (2012 German Economics Book Prize-winner for “The Economics of Good and Evil”), the co-founder of the Presencing Institute at MIT, Otto Scharmer, and the South African social entrepreneur and chancellor of the University of Johannesburg Wendy Luhabe discussed issues ranging from how to achieve the necessary cultural change in banking through interest as an ethical problem to the role of women in bringing about economic change. As Thomas Jorberg concluded in the final panel discussion: “Alongside system and structural change, we also need a cultural revolution.” The Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) is a membership organisation, made up of the world’s leading sustainable banks, from Asia, Africa, Australia, Latin America to North America and Europe. Members include microfinance banks in emerging markets, credit unions, community banks and sustainable banks financing social, environmental and cultural enterprise. END/nna/ror Item: 130614-02EN Date: 14 June 2013 Copyright 2013 News Network Anthroposophy Limited. All rights reserved.