The Malta Independent 17 May 2022, Tuesday

Ethical investment in today’s world

Noel Grima Tuesday, 11 January 2022, 10:49 Last update: about 5 months ago

Introducing Ethical Investment in a dynamic society. Editor: EP Delia. Publisher: APS Bank / 2012. Pages: 117pp

In June 2012, APS Bank held a seminar in its long series, this time focusing on ethical investment.

The list of these seminars at the end of this book is incomplete but it shows the trendline of the bank's efforts from 2001 moving from agriculture and fisheries, which were the bank's historic concerns in those early years, to sustainability and later to ethical investment.

I have many times regretted in my reviews of successive publications by the bank that the bank seems to have stopped this line of publications and the country is poorer as a result.

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In these beleaguered times of grey-listing such contributions would have been very welcome and would have positioned the bank firmly on the side of ethical and sustainable practices, in declaration and not just in practice.

The bank, which grew from Catholic social principles in the first decades of the last century and which to this day has the Church as its sole or main shareholder, is not just a bank among other banks but has the duty to be a beacon of ethical practices especially at a time when this is more observed in its absence in a Malta which is affluent but which has lost its soul.

Reading this brief report of the proceedings of the June 2012 seminar, one immediately finds out that the guiding spirit of the seminar was once again Professor E. P. Delia, still the chairman of the bank back then.

It is rather regrettable that Delia's keynote contribution is rather abstract and based on graphs and diagrams rather than on the main principles of ethical investment.

Five other contributions explain ethical investment in terms that can easily be understood by the general reader. Alessandra Viscovi, CEO of Etica Sgr, the only Italian asset management company that develops and promotes exclusively socially responsible mutual funds, describes sustainable and responsible investment as it was being developed in those pre-crisis years with special reference to Italy.

W. T. "Bill" McKibben, broadcaster and writer, goes back in history to Robert Owen and his innovative methods of management in Scotland two centuries ago.

Penny Shepherd, chief Executive of the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association writes about sustainable investment in Europe with special reference to the UK obviously in pre-Brexit times but with reference to the Occupy movement and special emphasis on being good stewards.

Mark Robertson, head of Communications at the EIRIS Foundation explains how green and ethical funds find themselves in the unique position to drive companies and investors towards an environmentally-friendly and fairer economy.

Lastly Wolfgang Pinner, head of Sustainable Investment, Erste Asset Management GmbH, provides direct hands-on experience of the performance of ethical investments.

As can be seen from this short and cursory description there is much scope for a fuller and wider analysis and update of the theme. One wonders who will take up the cudgel.


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