The ‘Sustainable finance for culture’ initiative aims to demonstrate that culture is at the heart of sustainable development and why it is important that investors integrate cultural factors into their responsible and sustainable investment policies.
Sustainable finance for culture is a joint initiative launched by the DOC Research Institute and Respethica.
Culture is a driver of positive change, alongside social and environmental factors. The sustainable finance and culture project is based on the premise that culture contributes greatly to social cohesion and harmony among people and societies, and therefore to sustainability.
Culture is both a mainspring of social cohesion and an enabler of self-esteem. Culture is fundamentally necessary to build and strengthen peaceful, creative, and inclusive societies.
In order to address sustainability challenges, we need fresh thinking and approaches that take into account the risk of social cohesion eroding and civilisations being driven apart. The promotion of culture has real potential to contribute to dialogue, respect, and social cohesion. The cultural industries and media sector themselves are also powerful in terms of revenues, employment, and influence.
Sustainable Finance has gained much attraction within the banking, investment, and insurance industry over recent years. Most of the world’s largest asset management groups have incorporated elements of sustainable finance in their investment strategies. ‘Responsible investment’ has also gained attention in the context of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), a global project and group of investors heeding a UN call to collaborate on key principles. The initiative supports investment practices in ways that promote sustainable finance.
The cultural dimension of sustainability, however, is rarely part of the investment menu.
Within the nomenclature international development, the topics of Sustainable Finance (SF) and Sustainable Investment (SI) primarily refer to the integration of Environmental, Social and Governance criteria (ESG) in investment decisions. Additional background comes from the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which states that cultural diversity is a mainspring for sustainable development for communities, peoples, and nations.
The purpose of the project is to put ‘culture and sustainable investment’ on the agenda of the global financial community, including financial institutions, pension funds, and investment groups like ethical banking pioneers focused on sustainable finance and the benefit of people and the environment.
It also aims to bring together representatives of intergovernmental organisations involved in sustainable development, including policymakers from UNESCO and other international organisations.
The initial purpose of this initiative is to create awareness of the importance of promoting culture, identity, and diversity in the context of sustainability transitions and to promote investments that strengthen inclusiveness and social coherence.
The initiative will maximise its initial outreach through a series of personal and institutional engagements with the sustainable investment community, banks, and asset managers in different countries.
Early exchanges and interviews have targeted banks and asset managers in Europe, especially those who have signed up to the Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI), an international network of investors that followed the call of the United Nations to work together to promote sustainable finance in the corporate sector. One example is Triodos Bank, which finances companies that add cultural value and benefit both people and the environment.
The initiative also aims to reach out to banks and asset managers outside Europe by building on the strong network of the DOC in China, India, Argentina, and other countries.
The initiative was launched in cooperation with UNESCO in July 2019. https://doc-research.org/2019/07/sustainable-finance-culture-social-cohesion/.
The DOC Rhodes Forum in October 2019 hosted the announcement of the ‘Rhodes call for the incorporation of culture within the sustainable development and responsible finance agendas’: https://doc-research.org/2019/10/rhodes-call-incorporation-culture-within-sustainable-development-responsible-finance-agendas/
A phase-one report collating testimony from pioneers in the sustainable finance sector is published here. It examines the motivations and practical assessment tools used by four leading banks in the ethical finance sector: https://doc-research.org/2020/05/culture-minded-sustainable-investors/
Interviews, articles, and roundtable discussions from the project can be found here: https://doc-research.org/category/sustainable-finance-for-culture/
A roundtable working session to develop a broader constituency advocating for the mainstreaming of culture within the sustainable finance and development agendas will be convened in summer 2020, where the findings of the phase-one report will be shared and discussed.
The project is led by Pascale Thumerelle of Respethica, who can be contacted at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org