Last week I was in the event: “Collaboration for sustainability – how to move forward?” hosted by the Sustainability Forum and the Sustainable Future Hub at Lund University. Since my last post I have been thinking in ways for governing complex processes such as financial inclusion, so I came to this event in hope for the final “answer”. Spoiler, I didn’t find the final answer, but a very good one I must admit.
In my last week post I finished pointing at three important discussions. Two of them that I want to bring back today. As part of my quest in understanding the ruling paradigms and powers around financial inclusion and alternative monetary models I found myself immersed in Financial Markets. Here, I believe, is where the “BIG players” are taking the decisions that define our future through the investments they make. As you might know, monetary policy in many countries is influenced by how Wall Street acts (or reacts) to different policies or events. To put make this a little more tangible, imagine how much influence could organizations such as Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), which manages assets of around USD $159,215 billion (2018) or Goldman Sachs, which managed around 933 Billion have if they decided to move their investment to companies that comply to high standards of sustainability. But do they really have the power to influence policy making? I recommend you to watch the movie “Too Big To Fail” so you get some idea of what I am talking about.
Some of these actors where in the Bloomberg Business Forum talking about Climate Change and sustainability. Even though I have been following these conversations recently, for what I understand this is definitely and advance in getting sustainability in the “Game”. There are many interesting takeaways of this forum, but I want to highlight one point of a panel in which Denis Duverne (AXA), David Solomon (Goldman Sachs), and Hiro Mizuno (GPIF) participated. Through their discussion they reflected on the need for more transparent information about assets environmental impact. Solomon’s answer: “we are working on it…. but the answer is we are working on it”. However, he later suggested the need for a clearer government climate policy framework that sets the guidelines that sets the standards for the data companies must share in regard to their climate impact.
So, I want to come back again to my initial question and its relation to the event “Collaboration for sustainability – how to move forward?”. As the title of the event hints, the discussion focused on collaboration and how to achieve this by including different stakeholders. The key speakers came from IIIEE, STEPS and Venture Lab. Per Mickwitz from IIIEE gave an interesting perspective on how different agendas need to include small actors if we want to make relevant and impactful collaborations. So, it was a perfect moment to find the answer to my governance reflections: How can we get citizens point of view in discussion where not necessarily interests of the big and smaller actors are aligned? Well, he gave a good answer to a quite complex question. Transparency and communication. This might seem quite obvious, and that is why I brought the Bloomberg Business Forum to the discussion. How much transparency can actors immersed in the current economic paradigm (e.g Goldman Sachs) can allow? What are the incentives for organizations that are locked in a system they created for transforming to a more sustainable paradigm and allow small actors in the conversation? I still don’t have the answer but there is going to be an interesting workshop about “The capital market – a driving force in the transformation towards sustainable businesses?” hosted by the Sustainability Hub at LUSEM that I hope will bring some interesting perspective.
Let’s wrap up. Governance of complex processes (e.g. monetary policy) includes many stakeholders, all of them with different and even conflicting interest. The incentives for some of the big players to “buy” the sustainability paradigm are not very clear, and thus governments might need to develop adequate accountability frameworks to re-frame the current incentives. But then how can people that are not at this level of conversation get heard? It is not clear yet, but Transparency and Communication might be a one way to follow. Perhaps Complementary Currencies could be useful to explore this idea. But can money have agency? Believe me, I am working on it.
Inspired by these reflections, in my next post I will get a little bit more into the topic of Financial Inclusion and try to connect some of the thoughts I have been working on lately, specifically in regards to Digital Money and Blockchain. By the way, if you find my posts interesting I also post in the Agenda2030 Graduate School blog, where I will focus more in the sustainability perspective, so feel free to join the conversation there as-well!