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Sustainable Finance: Why We Should All Care Where Our Money Goes

Finally, it seems that the general public has understood that we have to move to a greener and more sustainable lifestyle to prevent our planet from collapsing in the upcoming decades. This is at least what recent news reports, influencers on social media, and some of the prevailing political campaigns all over the world suggest.

However, even though most of our friends, family members and colleagues are to some extent engaged in some kind of sustainable behavior (e.g., buying organic products, going by bike, flying less), the intentions are usually greater than our actual behavior – let’s admit it to ourselves. In fact, if we continue pursuing our current lifestyles and supporting a political and economic system that does not engage in sustainability, we are far off from reaching the goal to limit the increase of our climate warming by 1.5° C in the upcoming 30 years.

My argument for moving our society into a greener and resource-efficient future is to tackle the problem at its origin:

We have to become more conscious and aware of where our money goes!

And this is the main idea of sustainable finance.

But what does "Sustainable Finance" really mean?

The European Commission defines sustainable finance as “the provision of finance to investments taking into account environmental, social and governance considerations“. In other words, financial actions should mainly be guided by the idea of reducing pressure on our environment (e.g., green-house gas emissions, pollution, waste), while at the same time securing sustainable economic growth. What is more, sustainable finance also demands more awareness and transparency on the side of businesses and financial institutions with regard to the risks that certain activities and investments pose for our environment and the financial system.

Some of you might think now: Well, this sounds like only the financial sector and politics could do the job. However, we are all part of the financial system by using money in our everyday lives. And looking back, history and research has shown that money (if well-invested) can be the main driver for technological developments, prosperity, health and democracy. Hence, it is the main vehicle that brings about social change – and this change starts with every single one of us!

Researching the Role of the News Media for Sustainable Finance

Although sustainable finance has picked up on popularity among activists, philanthropists, scholars and even millennials in the past years, the general public remains fairly uninformed about sustainable finance.

And this is where my two-years Marie Sklodowska-Curie project sets in. I will not only research how the news media report and construct news about sustainable finance to the general public, but I also want to find out how we can get more European citizens to engage in sustainable financial behavior.

Read more about the planned studies here.

Hopefully, at the end of the two years, we are living in a political and economic environment in which more banks and financial institutes are operating for the common good and not simply for the highest return, where politicians and corporate decision-makers have understood that investments should be guided by sustainability principles rather than by the principle of capital maximization, and where each one of us has made small steps to become more sustainable in their everyday financial decisions.

Obviously, I am an optimist. But if you also believe in a more sustainable future and you want to learn more about my research, I kindly invite you to follow my updates here on my blog.

Comments? Ideas or interested in working together? Please feel free to contact me.

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