Scotland’s financial capital is to host the inaugural Global Ethical Finance Forum (GEFF).
The project was announced yesterday (12 May) by its organisers, Middle East Global Advisors (MEGA) and will take place at the Balmoral Hotel, 1-2 September.
Hosted by the Scottish Government and supported by Visit Scotland, the Forum is an initiative in conjunction with the Islamic Finance Council UK (IFC UK) and Thomson Reuters.
Organisers say the long-term aim for the forum is to support the development of common practices and ultimately promote the adoption of global standards for the industry.
GEFF will also see the launch of the Responsible Finance Institute (RFI), designed to promote convergence and collaboration.
Speaking ahead of the forum, Sarah Marten, CEO of the RFI, said: “GEFF’s objectives are to harness the collective strengths of the various forms of responsible finance and investing (inclusive of Islamic finance) that together comprise more than US$11 trillion.”
Marten said global sustainable development challenges such as climate change and poverty line could hardly be addressed without responsible finance that integrates social, environmental and governance concerns into the financing and investment decision making of financial institutions.
“The RFI is proud to partner with GEFF in this important event and looks forward to working towards developing and further expanding responsible finance, inclusive of Islamic finance,” Marten added.
GEFF 2015 is targeted at institutional investors, asset owners, policymakers, academics and other stakeholders within the Islamic finance; environmental, social and governance (ESG); and socially responsible investing (SRI) segments.
Dr Sayd Farook, global head of Islamic Capital Markets at Thomson Reuters, said: “Thomson Reuters is proud to be the Knowledge Partner for the inaugural GEFF, a platform that will serve to connect the large but fragmented ethical/responsible finance and investment communities. We believe that now is an opportune time to expand the capacity of ethical finance, inclusive of Islamic finance and socially responsible investment (SRI), to better serve people and the overall economy.”
Thomson Reuters chose the forum for the launch of its Responsible Finance Report, produced in collaboration with the Responsible Finance Institute (RFI).
“The Responsible Finance Report,” Dr Farook continued, “will be the first report to rigorously measure the size and geographic concentrations of the entire ethical finance and SRI industry.”
The selection of Scotland as the host country for the first Global Ethical Finance Forum was driven in large part to Scotland’s strong heritage in ethical finance. Ehsan Abbas, Chairman of MEGA, lauded Scotland’s “immeasurable contribution to the creation of financial institutions and early professional bodies specialising in ethical finance. MEGA is delighted to work towards meeting the vision of the very place that gave birth to Scottish Widows and the savings banks movement”.
The Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC), one of the key players promoting Scotland as the Ethical finance hub, had hosted the 2014 Edinburgh Ethical Finance Roundtable series. Graham Burnside, a UKIFC Advisory Board Member, structured and documented one of the first Shariah-compliant mortgage products operating under Scots law and strongly believes that ethics and business can go hand-in-hand: “The demand for increased social responsibility and ethical behavior is quickly becoming a major transformative force within the global financial services industry…We are particularly excited about bringing this unique new event to Scotland to build on the UKIFC’s existing series of ethical finance round tables and complementing the UK government’s recent work on Islamic finance.”
One of GEFF’s highlights include a Reception at Edinburgh castle – and Power Debates on the future of the fast growing sector of ethical finance.