Article by Andrea Rodriguez, Ripess Europe

We are not the first generation of young people who have to explain that the world in which we live matters to us, that we care about our community, our future. Despite the stigmatization that youth faces in our societies, -increased during the COVID 19 pandemic-, we will not stop repeating that we want to build a better world, that we want to be at the forefront helping our elders not to be homeless and jobless and that we will participate in all movements that defend our rights and want to create fairer and more equal world.

Therefore, the youth working group of RIPESS EUROPE, made up of people from different networks, advocates the construction of new spaces led and designed by and for young people, in which the role of the new generations in building the future is valued, approaching movements such as the Social and Solidarity Economy.

One of the strategic lines of this group is to raise awareness about Ethical Finance and create an activist campaign that can claim the importance of fair trade, ethical banking, local currencies and, in general, the idea of channel our money and our savings to projects or forms of consumption that put life and the environment at the center.

It is based on the idea that ethical finance is very different from conventional speculative finance, starting from the fact that it allows to preserve and increase the economic value of savings over time and to add a series of values, such as respect for the environment, the fight against climate change, the right to housing, the inclusion of people and organizations traditionally excluded from the usual financial circuits, etc.

The current economic system is responsible for increasing inequality and social exclusion, and perpetuates poverty, discrimination and exploitation, especially among women in the Global South. In this scenario, traditional finance engages in speculative activities and investments in areas that violate human rights and social and environmental justice. In fact, as the “Banca Armada campaign shows, conventional banking is a great ally of the arms and military industry: “Arms companies need banking services, both to carry out their current commercial operations and to obtain extraordinary funds that allow them to undertake the development of new weapons, export to new markets and, ultimately, maintain their competitive strength in an eminently private sector“.

In addition, conventional banks speculate on basic goods such as food, housing and energy. However, ethical finance promotes renewable energies, agroecology, decent housing, education and community development. In this sense, it can be said that they only finance real economy projects, those based on values such as transparency, mutual aid, active and democratic participation, cooperation, equality… in short, the values of the Social and Solidarity Economy.

On the other hand, the formal financial system excludes many groups from access to money, especially women, because the wage gap and the fact that they have jobs that are not recognized by the current economic model, makes them less likely to have access, for example, to a loan. Undoubtedly, this limits their economic autonomy and their financial rights, excluding women from access to basic goods such as housing. Moreover, this discrimination increases according to your social class, ethnicity, religion and age; young people are also excluded from the traditional financial system.

The RIPESS EU youth working group understands ethical finance as a tool for empowerment and as a starting point to create alliances between different groups of young people who want to act in the field of economic justice. In short, as a way to start building alternatives to an economic model that makes young people especially precarious.