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Social investment a weapon of change for the world's faiths

April 27 2005:

* The seven major faiths represented among the founding members of 3iG are Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism

Report by Bfinance investment consultants

Which institution owns 7% of the habitable land surface of the planet? The correct and improbable answer is the large collection of the world’s faiths, that have accumulated assets whose yields now allow to pay for their numerous activities. Now, seven world religions* with portfolios running into the billions want to use their funds to get things moving.

Those congregations want to go one step further than the “negative screening” approach, which has been first implemented by groups such as the Methodists, who exclude the alcohol industry from their portfolio, While it allows to invest and to remain in line with the principles of a faith, it does nothing to actually promote the faith’s principles.

Link to Thought for the Day on the subject of 3iG.
The International Interfaith Investment Group (3iG) has been launched to develop guidelines on how to invest so that a portfolio will reflect the values, beliefs and teachings of a faith.

Nevertheless, investment returns will still be a priority within any policy framework developed by the 3iG. “They are in the business of being ‘good religions’ and this is largely funded through their historically accrued stocks, shares and land assets. Therefore, they want and need a good return”, stated the 3iG, echoing a common concern among lay institutional investors such as pension funds.

“After all, it can be argued that companies that take their environmental responsibilities and employees seriously will pay dividends in the future”, explained the 3iG. Areas such as alternative energy, micro-financing, sustainable housing and health care are on the table for potential development given their positive social and environmental consequences.

The 3iG is supported by a diverse array of philanthropies, banks, charities, foundations, businesses and socially responsible investment advisory groups. This includes major banks such as Citigroup (one of the key funders of the venture), Rabobank from the Netherlands, the World Bank, as well as research agencies such as Innovest and Medley Global Advisors.

J.L.

This article is republished with kind permission of bfinance investment consultants.

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