Faith-consistent investment: FaithInvest
From an extraordinary, powerful meeting ARC cohosted in Zug, Switzerland in November 2017, bringing together some of the largest religious investors, a new faith-consistent investment alliance has been born.
What very few faith investors have done, or been able to do, is concentrate on positive investments in areas which their faith teachings should encourage them to support. This can include sustainable energy, profitable waste recycling initiatives, organic (or similar) food, fair trade comestibles, and which also prioritises companies with clear, transparent, ethical policies in terms of staff, gender balance, waste disposal, transport policies etc.
It is called FaithInvest. It might change the world. It is certainly one of the most important initiatives ARC has ever been involved with. Read its latest mandate here.
FaithInvest was born from a realisation that the faiths are a massive investment bloc. If they all got together they could be the fourth largest investment bloc in the financial world. If they collaborated then they could be share-holders in (and therefore part-owners of) companies and for-profit programmes in areas of influence that could make our world a better place.
The 2017 Zug Guidelines (key faith and investment guidelines outlining what different faith traditions would be interested in investing in, and why) created an unprecedented demand. Joined now by more than 30 philanthropies and NGOs, this new series of commitments spells out what billions of dollars of faith and value-driven investment wishes to invest in.
In response, we have started – in partnership with UNDP and others – creating a new programme to assist current charity or aid-funded environmental and sustainable projects to develop investable business plans. This "pipeline" will supply the demand this new movement has unleashed.
Religions have always had resources in land and buildings, but today they also have substantial resources invested in the world's stock markets, placed there to increase in line with (or higher than) inflation so that later they can pay pensions, or salaries, or for infrastructure projects in the future.
In the past few decades most faiths have adopted a degree of negative screening - no investment in arms or weaponry, no tobacco companies, for some no companies concentrating on alcohol, increasingly a sense that it is faith-consistent to divest in fossil fuels or palm oil etc because of their huge negative environment impact.
This is why FaithInvest is being created.
The FaithInvest undertaking
FaithInvest commits to co-operate and create a fundable and sustainable alliance to assist faiths to collaborate on globally transformative faith-consistent investment.
The FaithInvest Principles
* At the heart of FaithInvest are faith investors and faith organisations. These will be in partnership with philanthropies and NGOs and an inspiration to investors guided by their own faith.
* FaithInvest guides investment in line with faith-consistent principles, values and responsibilities. This creates demand for faith-consistent investment initiatives.
* The faiths also generate projects which need investment. These also need support services to become investable at scale.
* FaithInvest helps the faiths build bridges and form partnerships with secular agencies and suppliers of secular and religious financial services.
* FaithInvest aims to assist entire portfolios to be faith-consistent in response to global crises/challenges. That includes any proportion directed specifically toward impact investment.
How it works
FaithInvest exists to engage the faiths and secular partners to:
||FaithInvest investments and principles are designed to further one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which are each a way towards a vision of a better planetary future
- Develop a pipeline of investable projects in line with faith-consistent principles
- Catalyse faith-based investment partnerships
- Encourage and develop a variety of faith-based guidelines through regional faith programmes in Asia, Latin America and Africa as well as Europe and North America
- Create and deliver faith-consistent opportunities and business services
- Connect projects with investors at scale
- Undertake applied research
- Focus on faith criteria, indicators and measures; look for common voices & concerns in this plurality
- Educate and inform through creating formal and informal curriculum resources; raising faith grassroots awareness of faith-consitent investment principles and potential; encouraging faith individuals toward FCI, knowledge sharing providing or partnering with leadership training; educating asset managers about engaging with the faiths
- Engage partners: provide the faith-consistent voice needed for systemic change, for example in partnership with the UN Sustainable Development Goals
- Inspire: build and tell the story of FaithInvest and faith-consistent investment
Designing FaithInvest to be flexible and sustainable
True to an organisation set up to support sustainability, FaithInvest has a sustainable financial model. For the first three to five years there will be a blend of grant funding, up-front investment and fees for business services (advisory, research, education, other).
The intention is for FaithInvest to have a two-tier hybrid structure combining a light-touch, not-for-profit flexible association with a for-profit service delivery arm acting consistent with the not-for-profit aim. This business model has to serve the core association purposes, not to drive them.
Publications and background
The latest FaithInvest mandate
Introduction to the 2017 Zug Guidelines
The full 2017 Zug Guidelines
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals
More about the Zug Faith in Finance meeting
Financial investors and leaders of more than 30 different faith traditions representing over 500 faith investment groups from eight religions and around three trillion dollars in assets, met in Zug, Switzerland, from October 30 to November 1, 2017, for the Faith in Finance meeting. Also attending were representatives of the UN and some key ethical impact investment funds.
Watch this beautiful short film from the Zug event.
See the event in news and photos
New Alliance for Faith-Consistent Investing, Press Release November 2, 2017
The agenda and key presentations
Photos from Zug
What are the Sustainable Development Goals?
On September 25, 2015, 193 world leaders committed to 17 Global Goals to achieve three extraordinary things by 2030:
End extreme poverty.
Here are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals
Fight inequality & injustice.
Fix climate change.
PHOTO CREDITS: TOP. PHOTO: Tibchris under a Creative Commons license; SECOND DOWN: Zug procession, Timothy Christensen STOKASMUD; THIRD DOWN: Launch of new Faith-Consistent-Investment Alliance, Zug 2017, Michael Shackleton, ARC; FOURTH DOWN: Painting of the Sustainable Development Goals by pupils of St Bernadette's Catholic School, Bristol, 2015