FaithInvest's new CEO Dr Lorna Gold has issued an urgent call for a radical reassessment of the values underpinning our economic decisions, saying we need an economy 'more attuned to the planet and human well-being – one that will unleash the power of faith as a dynamic force for good'.
In a deeply felt and passionately argued opinion piece, Dr Gold, who assumed leadership of FaithInvest this month and is a leading voice on faith-consistent investing, said we have plenty of knowledge about the extent of the ecological and climate crises, and about the changes we need to make, "yet we are still facing an uphill battle in uniting behind a new vision of the economy that can shift us towards a more sustainable future."
She added: "We need to join a few more dots... If we agree that our economic choices are driving us systematically towards destruction, then surely we need to examine the foundation on which key choices are made?
"Piecemeal solutions that do not address the underlying issues at best only tackle the symptoms, not the causes. Radical solutions are needed – in the truest sense of the word. ‘Radical’, after all, means 'root.'"
Caring about the future of the planet and all its inhabitants is not simply a matter of personal taste, she said: "It is about shared responsibility and the common good. It is about human decency... It is about the ancient and enduring truth that money, no matter how alluring, cannot be eaten. There is no money on a dead planet.
As well as urgently needing to revisit the values underpinning our economic decisions, Dr Gold said we should be willing to embrace alternative perspectives on economic life that might be considered the antithesis of consumer-based market economics, such as care, gift, sacrifice, frugality, collaboration, creativity and sharing.
"Examples of this kind of economy date back to ancient times – to the first Christian communities who shared everything in common and 'nobody was in need'; or the Kibutz movement; or the pioneers of Quaker businesses," she said.
FaithInvest is a UK-based international non-profit organisation founded to empower the faiths to invest in line with their beliefs and values. Dr Lorna Gold said it was a great honour to be taking over the leadership of FaithInvest "at a pivotal time in both the faith-consistent investing movement and global efforts to address the urgent climate and environmental crises."
She added: "FaithInvest works to achieve a just and sustainable world by supporting all major faiths to invest in line with their beliefs and values. All major faiths have made bold public commitments on tackling the environmental crisis.
"We believe faiths can be creative engines of profound change, based on their deep beliefs, values and teaching, and that conviction has been borne out by the massive growth of interest globally among faiths in ensuring their investments are aligned with their values, for the benefit of people and planet."
Dr Gold said FaithInvest could help faiths to do this: "We support faiths to evaluate the extent to which their finances reflect their faith values, and then to develop investment policies, guidelines and mandates that are aligned to those values.
"When this happens the power of faith as a dynamic force for good is unleashed – whether underwriting the vast potential to safeguard 'sacred forests' or mandating thousands of parishes to switch to clean energy. Based on their deepest values, faith institutions can become a creative force for a sustainable world."
Dr Lorna Gold has more than two decades of experience of international development and engaging the faiths on climate and financial justice. She is a leading voice on faith-consistent investing in the Catholic Church and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Laudato Si’ Movement, a global grassroots Catholic environmental network bringing together 900 organisations around the world.
FaithInvest's previous CEO Martin Palmer remains as FaithInvest’s Founding President.