European organisations are joining forces in critical shareholding but there’s a long road ahead
This story begins in Italy in the 1990s, when a series of pacifist, environmental, trade union and fair trade organisations created the first, and so far only, Italian grassroots bank, Banca Etica. Its purpose was and continues to be to finance non-profit organisations and social cooperatives but also private companies that develop projects in the social and environmental field.
In 2003 the bank, which today has 44,000 members and deposits of €1.8 billion, created a foundation, financed from its profits, with the aim of promoting the culture of ethical finance and a responsible use of money, the Fondazione Finanza Etica (FFE). It has no assets to invest but uses the resources made available by Banca Etica to finance cultural projects and research mainly related to financial education and responsible consumption.
Pollution, corruption and human rights violations become worthy of discussion at annual general meetings not so much because they are unfair or unethical practices, but because they can pose risks to the financial soundness of corporations.