Eugene Ellmen, responsible investment pioneer and national director of Oikocredit Canada, has co-authored a blog post about the wake-up call that the struggle against the apartheid regime in South Africa sounded for all those who put their money in investments.
At some point, someone must have realised that an investment is not a pile of money locked in a safe. Even money in the bank, and investments that may not look like investments to us, such as pension funds, are at work somewhere in the world.
In Canada, it was churches who played a major part in bringing transparency to what investments actually do. They understood that investing in ways that supported the apartheid regime in South Africa could not be reconciled with the moral tenets of their faith.
"From its launch in 1975 through to Mandela’s release from prison in 1990, [the Taskforce on the Churches and Corporate Responsibility] spearheaded church shareholder opposition to apartheid, working alongside other NGOs and the labour movement."
Since then, responsible investment has steadily gained ground. Recently, investors managing £15tn of assets have called for a clear price on carbon, and an end to fossil fuel subsidies.
Oikocredit stems from the same root. At a World Council of Churches meeting in 1968, young, socially engaged church members called for an ethical investment channel. Oikocredit is the result of their efforts.
Read the full blog post over at the Responsible Investment Association