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The Ecology of Finance. An alternative white paper on banking and financial sector reform. November 2009

November 2009

To download : PDF (1.6 MiB)

Summary :

In the UK, a host of alternative and innovative social or ecologically

focused financial forms and approaches exists. In fact, the UK has been a

hub of financial innovation for centuries. It is only in the past few decades,

in which the assumption that the market always knows best has

dominated, that the UK financial sector has grown to be so uniform. This

report considers how the approaches of little-known but highly effective

alternatives can point the way to reform of the entire sector.

The alternatives that already exist demonstrate that a more diverse and

socially focused set of financial institutions can survive even in the

extreme conditions that existed prior to the financial crisis. With enabling

regulation and policies, the alternatives that we highlight could represent

the ecology approach to finance.

This alternative White Paper distils lessons for the reform of the financial

system from organisations that are designed to capture social and

environmental value, not just profit. In doing so it showcases examples of

enabling legislation and a wide range of alternative financial institutions

that could help the UK to develop the kind of diversity and dynamism

needed to create a healthy ecology of finance. These include:

  • Credit unions, community development finance institutions and

community land trusts.

  • Green investment banks such as the Nordic Investment Bank.

  • The Community Reinvestment Act in the United States.

  • The Mondragon Cooperatives and Caja Laboral Bank in the

Basque region of Spain.

  • A Social Investment Wholesale Bank and innovations including

social impact bonds.