By Catherine Howarth, Chief Executive, ShareAction
Can you imagine a world where all finance powers social progress?
A world where investors and the companies they invest in operate within the ecological limits of our planet? Where health, well-being and diversity are given the value they deserve?
We can imagine such a world. But we know that bringing it about will take a huge amount of collective action.
The causes of the environmental and social breakdown we’re seeing across the world are systemic and written into an economy that incentivises plundering our natural world and human communities to turn a profit.
But systems can be changed when we come together and use our voices. At ShareAction we’re determined to be part of the solution.
Building a world where finance powers social progress
Our financial system – a system we’re all connected to and most of us pay into with our pension savings – is currently designed in a way that exacerbates global inequality, the climate crisis and chronic issues like childhood obesity.
The investment system is currently failing to support the creation of a green, fair, and healthy society.
We can change that. The coming decade is going to be critical.
Thanks to support from people like you, ShareAction has already made sure that some of the world’s largest financial institutions are using their power to make a more positive impact. During 2019, we’ve shone a light on workforce practices at dozens of the world’s largest corporations, pushed for Living Wages, and helped stamp coal out of the banks.
Together, we’ve raised our voices to demand that our money be invested differently and more responsibly. In October 2019 we saw it become binding in law.
As we head into 2020, we’re imagining the world we want to live in by 2030.
Here’s what it looks like.
Imagine what else we could achieve. Imagine it’s 2030
Our pension funds have clear legal duties to invest our money in a way that not only produces an income in retirement but protects us from climate catastrophe, and from the damage created by biodiversity loss, health inequalities and global pandemics.
Our money is invested in companies that focus on delivering social and ecological value alongside financial returns. Our pension funds use the power of their shareholdings to drive positive change in corporate behaviour thus serving our interests as consumers, workers and citizens as well as giving us a nest egg to rely on in old age.
Building a safer future
By harnessing the capital they manage, large institutional investors have, by 2030, played a crucial role as enablers of a transition to a low-carbon economy that creates quality new jobs and protects us all.
By 2030, companies from all sectors have aligned their policies and practices with the goal of keeping global temperature rises within 1.5°C of warming. There has been a vast shift away from fossil fuels for energy and a commensurate uptake in renewable alternatives.
Thanks to government regulations that take climate change seriously, companies of all sizes are making progress in driving low carbon innovation into sectors like cement, aviation and shipping.
Driving healthy, prosperous societies
Meanwhile, with the knowledge that sustainable investment returns come from a healthy and fairly-rewarded workforce, the low-carbon economy of 2030 is one with greater job security for all. This is reflected across all sectors, evidenced and driven by data that’s transparent to all.
Investors have moved away from companies that pay poverty wages and rely on exploitation and modern slavery – instead rewarding firms that value and invest in their workforce at every level.
In 2030, investors no longer support companies that knowingly make and market food and drink that damages the health of children – choosing instead to back firms providing and promoting healthy options, which are now not only readily available but also more affordable.
In doing this, investors have helped to build a healthier and more prosperous society.
Financing positive impact
By 2030, major investors and companies understand that doing business is no longer just about financial returns. To have a social licence to operate in business or in finance in 2030, you have to have and demonstrate a positive impact.
Individuals become society’s stewards
And where progress still needs to be made, individuals will be empowered in 2030 to use their money to create the change they want to see. They no longer have to tolerate their savings and pensions fuelling a world of inequality, poor health and climate destruction.
No longer ignored or side-lined by their pension schemes but treated as VIP customers, pension savers will be free to transfer their money to more innovative and socially-aware pension providers if they want to.
Our money can change everything
The challenge ahead is daunting, but we know that a better future is possible.
Changing the way the investment system works is complex. It takes dedicated people, time and resources to create transformational change in and through our finance system
ShareAction is working to create positive change at all levels of the system –
- influencing and improving investor practices through our research and rankings;
- changing the rules that govern the finance system through policy advocacy;
- campaigning to improve what companies do through shareholder activism; and
- supporting networks of people that want to see finance deliver a green, fair and healthy world.
This moment demands more
At this critical juncture for people and planet, will you support ShareAction with a monthly donation of £3 to take this vital work to the next level?
Let’s come together to build a world where all finance powers social progress.