FEBEA – 20 YEARS OF ETHICAL FINANCE STORIES IN EUROPE

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– Read this article in Spanish on Valor Social and in Italian on Valori

By Pedro M. Sasia, FEBEA Chairman

The power of narration (storytelling), as a tool that allows to know how economic collective projects arise and develop, is well known. Without replacing strictly economic-financial information or social or environmental impact reports, telling stories helps us understand the reality much better, adding a context and a history to the still photo that these reports offer.

It is not therefore surprising that, in the conference organized by Febea on June 10, 2021 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of our foundation, various messages from the speakers emphasised in one way or another the importance of developing a narrative that would help us understand the circumstances that gave rise to our birth, know our current reality and glimpse our future. Stories that Febea could use in the always unfinished process of political and social advocacy in favor of ethical finance.

Ethical Finance: much more than storytelling

The dossier that you have before you shows precisely that current reality, but it also describes that context and that journey. It talks about dreams, aspirations, claims, longings. It is, in fact, much more than storytelling. We can say that this dossier is also storydoing, storygiving, storyliving. A material born to be shared, given away, lived, like a treasure that hides processes of collective action, of critical thought, of activism. Ultimately, it reveals the fabric of the ethical finance projects that make up Febea, the European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Finance.

Going through the various contents of this dossier will allow us to find unequivocal signs of an increasingly recognizable and legitimized financial space, with excellent credit portfolios, dynamic social bases, extensive knowledge and adaptability and, as has been shown during the pandemic of the Covid-19, a great resilience. Elements supported by numbers that prove our remarkable experience in financing contexts very little recognized by traditional banks.  The financial entities members of Febea operate naturally in these dimensions, demonstrating for many years their great capacity to adapt to the needs of the sectors we serve almost exclusively.

We know well these social contexts, as they constitute the priority on which many of the financial projects, that founded and consolidated our Federation, were built on. In the chapter dedicated to the latest report on Ethical Finance in Europe, the reader will find clear evidence of the current strength of this model and its significant differences with the large financial operators.

The story of truly sustainable finance

The dossier also tells the story of a truly sustainable finance, with a purpose and practical performance that highlights the great path that the European Union regulators still have to travel to consolidate new regulatory frameworks that configure a financial space not only sustainable, but also capable of building a legacy of sustainability.

Febea’s Position Paper in relation to the European debate on Sustainable Finance, which is presented in one of the sections of the dossier, is a clear example of the positioning and practice that characterizes the members of our Federation. A position that is much more than reflection or analysis, and that arises from the experience of financial institutions that have been committing themselves to sustainability for many years, understood as a challenge that cannot face environmental impacts separately and that must also address many others dimensions that are inevitably linked to the concept of sustainability, such as attention to social impacts and the governance model of the financial institutions themselves.

We will find among the contents of the dossier numerous examples of projects developed by the members of Febea over the last few years in areas as socially important as care for the migrant population, social and labor insertion, access to housing, care for the disability, workers buy out processes, development cooperation…. Financial projects developed in sectors usually considered “out of the market” and which truly sustainable finance must recognize as unavoidable priorities.

The challenges for the future of Ethical Finance

Finally, this dossier also talks about our dreams, our vision and the strategic commitment we face for the coming years. In one of the last materials in the dossier, we display the main contents of this strategic reflection process that began in March 2021. We have called it the “Kairos project”, referring to “kairological time”, that precise, appropriate moment, that time that is distinguished precisely not by its measure, but by its quality. That moment when something important happens. At Febea we believe that something important can happen in the financial space, and that it is our responsibility to help make it happen. Something that allows recovering all the potential that truly sustainable finance contains as building agent of fairer societies. We have always believed in this, and that persuasion is the main driving force behind us. As you can see, that force can be perceived in each of the lines that make up the contents of this dossier. I hope you enjoy your reading.

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