05 Dec 2011

A Peace Building certificate to label sustainable investments ?

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When preparing today the conference organised by IBCL (Indian Business Chamber of Luxembourg) and to be held tomorrow in Luxembourg on the topic “Finance brings sustainable Peace” … I was thinking on a new kind on financial product to invent : the Peace Building certificate as it exists the Carbon Emission certificate.

Investing in Peace

Logo PDI

(PEERS Direct Investment is a registered trademark)

“Peace starts at home, with me”, can we read on the excellent Canadian website www.peace.ca. That’s obvious !
Nobody can implement peace, because peace is not a product, neither a service. It is an outcome, the happy end of a long-run process. What everybody can do, is implementing the conditions to peace, i.e. how to behave with the view to get peace something tangible.

Peace is like Water or Oxygen. It tends to be for us in Europe and in other democratic areas something relatively few questionable, because it has been surrounded us for a long time. But how to link Peace with Finance, as it does with Water or Oxygen (rather Carbon emissions) ? It has come to me for a few months, the idea of creating Peace Building certificates. This idea is part of my reflection when setting up PDI – the registered “PEERS Direct Investment” trademark.

When writing my thesis in 2005 to pass the Master in Research “Ecological Economics and Sustainable Development Policy” from the University of Versailles / Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, I interviewed a prominent executive on the financial Luxembourg-place about what he understood with responsible investing. His answer was absolutely not what I was expected : “It is all about securing the existence of the human being”. His definition is great !!!

Revisiting Sustainability

It gets me think that nothing in this world can be considered as being sustainable, if it not closely linked to the building of peace.

We are living in a world of fashion. Finance is not exempt from this. Today, the topics of Environment, Social impact, etc … are a significant fashionable trend, but they seem to have surged without a sound reflection on what it implies in term of business practices. What does speaking of environmental conservation means, if the basement to protect environment is not safe ? Have we thought with enough transparency and honesty about what it should imply in term of food consumption, habits of mobility , etc … to be actually environmental-friendly ?

The first thing to do when investing with responsibility should be to check the business approach regarding the peace building requirements. It is what PDI – “PEERS Direct Investment” does.

The concept PEERS Direct Investment

What PDI – “PEERS Direct Investment” proposes is twofold :

  • assess projects regarding peace building and grant a label to actors supporting a true sustainable world
  • present the selected projects to investors

Integrating the contribution of the business in peace building is roughly a 4-steps approach. It starts with being aware about this current context : dealing with peace is quite unusual for some part of the world’s population living in safe countries and areas. The peace’s situation we have been living for several decades is to be steadily recalled and explained.
The second step consists in agreeing some norms and values, such as the human rights or the gender diversity … or the fact that the environment is a vital resource for the human living.
The third step is to implement some basic principles that help organisations work in a way that brings the conditions to peace : what we are used to calling Sustainability … but what we do very few …
It ends up with setting goals and targets for securing a peace environment … and monitoring results over time.

How can we implement that kind of (very nice) principles in Finance ? It is possible and I can provide it with the PDI – “PEERS Direct Investment” concept : assisting sustainable business and projects in growing up.

Under the name of PDI – “PEERS Direct Investment”, I have set up :

  • a methodology to appraise valuable projects (including a due-diligence check-list that investigates the application of operational practices contributing to peace building)
  • a monitoring toolbox (social and environmental KPIs and technical-assistance tools)
  • a label granted to actors of a sustainable economy and projects

Let’s elaborate this in a further article …

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