Valorsocial Article, 30 May 2022

More than 120 people representing different European countries (Austria, France, Ireland, Spain, Holland …) have gathered in Barcelona, at the annual Conference of the European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks and Financiers (FEBEA). After three years without the possibility of meeting due to the pandemic, the entities of this European network have valued the consolidation and growth of their way of doing and understanding the economy, positioning themselves as something more than sustainable finance.

Under the title “Credit & Beyond“, throughout the day has been present the will to enhance the consolidation of the work carried out by ethical finance in recent decades, as well as its purpose of positioning itself as referent financier of the social economy and referent of a conception of sustainability that goes beyond environmental work .”We are financial intermediaries, but we are much more than operators in the financial market. The principles, the values, the style of operation that we publicly commit to develop, are worth it. It is not mere differentiation. It’s not “greenwashing”, it’s not “pinkwashing”, nor “solidaritywashing”… The style of ethical finance, its purpose, are the right ones to face the moments we have lived and are living”, said Pedro M. Sasia, president of FEBEA, at the presentation of the event.


Relationship between ethical finance and public policies

The role of public policies to enhance the social economy through ethical finance has been the theme of one of the round tables of the day. (…)

Innovative financing tools at the service of transformation

After these interventions, a round table has been held, with member entities of FEBEA, in which practical experiences on innovative financing tools for social economy companies have been exposed. Representatives of the Spanish financial cooperative Fiare Banca Etica, the French La Nef, the Austrian group Erste and the French cooperative Les Scop participated. All of them have mentioned the importance of supporting the digitalisation of social economy enterprises, as well as the importance of understanding local issues and finding the right local partners to be able to develop financing tools appropriate to the needs of the social economy.

Jordi Vía, expert in social and solidarity economy and current president of FETS (Finançament Ètic i Solidari), has made an intervention on transformative economies highlighting as  “an essential socio-political dimension, the fact that the financing of the system of ethical finance for all transformative economies is geared towards an explicit strategy to support the deployment of the ecosocial transition“, promoting socially useful productive activities, promoting a change in the consumption model to make it responsible and sustainable and actively participating in social and solidarity economy networks.

The day ended with a round table of local support experiences that go beyond mere financing. In this sense, Fundación Seira has shared its experience of generating non-speculative investment funds to finance projects in partnership with the public administration. Fundación Finanzas Éticas has explained its experience in training issues, highlighting the importance of the inclusion of ethical finance in the educational field, and also reported on the creation of several funds to support local projects, also some of them with the support of public administration. For its part, Coop 57, has spoken of access to credit from a non-banking point of view and has shared its experience in the purchase of land for community-type projects. Finally, Arç Cooperativa has drawn attention to the importance of ethical insurance, given the power of the insurance sector, and has shared the advances of recent years with the generation of its own certification of ethical insurance. All of them have underlined the importance of alliances and collaboration, as well as the relevance of knowing how to identify the needs of the social economy in order to provide answers from different areas.

At the time of the conclusions, Daniel Sorrosal, Secretary General of FEBEA, stressed that “ethical finance is a real alternative, an opportunity to put people at the center, and this makes the sector a natural partner of those who policymakers,” said the FEBEA’s willingness to increase its activity and extend the network at European level, creating alliances with new partners, perhaps outside the usual scope of collaboration. For his part, Carlos Askunze, president of the Ethical Finance Foundation, wanted to end the Conference by highlighting the transformative function of ethical finance and how the FEBEA network claims and builds cultural, social, political and economic practices that are clearly transformative, from the perspective of citizen participation, “cooperative and transformative finance, which is crucial for the construction of inclusive, democratic, ecological and feminist socio-economic ecosystems. Finances whose main purpose is to take care of life, and sustain that present and future life“.


*The FEBEA 2022 Annual Conference took place in Barcelona on 23 May 2022. Through the youtube channel of the Ethical Finance Foundation you can access the recording of the conference.