Speaking at a panel on the role of faiths in questioning and shaping finance in society, Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, deputy general secretary for Public Witness and Diakonia at the World Council of Churches (WCC) underlined that “the transformation to an equitable and ecologically nourishing economy entails critically engaging with the question of investment for what and for whom? It entails a shift in temporal perspectives…to long-term envisioning. It entails redefining financial terms such as ‘risk’…to account for community and ecological wellbeing.” Here, the role of faiths cannot be discounted.
Mgr Dominique Rey, Roman Catholic bishop of Fréjus-Toulons in France, developed several starting points for faith engagement in issues of finance. “The concept of the common good must be highlighted as the first principle” as well as the “need for international regulation,” he said. “The free market, without a true ethic of justice and without regulations that protect the weakest, must be framed to ensure the common good.”
Climate protection is a common good and many churches and faith-based organisations are moving their money towards this end. Speakers in one of the afternoon panels offered concrete actions.
Rob Fohr who directs the Presbyterian Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment shared that a recent board meeting has recommended that five energy companies be added to the Presbyterian Church USA’s Divestment/Proscription List following years of review and engagement. These include: Chevron, ExxonMobil, Marathon Petroleum, Phillips 66, and Valero Energy.
Moving from divestment to investment, Rev. Fletcher Harper, executive director of GreenFaith, lifted up the Shine initiative which aims to accelerate investment in decentralised clean energy projects led by women and communities.
The conference was co-convened by the WCC, Agape Foundation, FaithInvest, and World Evangelical Alliance.