Imagine a world where your money matters. A world where your money could influence businesses and organisations in your local area and across the world to act more sustainably. To put pressure on those who play an important role in protecting our planet’s amazingly diverse communities and environments. As Chief Responsible Investment Officer at Aviva Investors, I believe we can challenge the rules of global finance by changing the course of money through our new, game-changing benchmarks.

The SDGs are a call to action for everyone to make the world a better place and to secure the future of our planet. From individuals to multinational organisations, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of everyone. We know the numbers: if stakeholders are mobilised around the world to challenge how key economic systems are run, an estimated US$12 trillion can be opened. This is a tremendous opportunity for us to shift our minds away from the immediate returns of today to sustainable impact for tomorrow.

Sustainable Finance aims to connect financial performance with positive social and environmental impact. It calls for us to rethink how money passes from person to person, business to business, place to place. It requires a long-term thinking through re-orienting the direction of investment towards more sustainable technologies and businesses. By making finance central to the creation of carbon-free industries and climate resilient economies and by thinking more about how the decisions we make today impact the generations to come. It’s about recognising the value of finance beyond finance.

I believe the WBA can harness the power of the private sector towards achieving this transformation of our mindset. Our ambition to rank businesses on their sustainability performance and contribution of leading companies in key industries will highlight the best and worst performers through benchmarking. The benchmarks will provide financial institutions, companies, governments, and civil society with information that can be used to challenge businesses to do better. The WBA will enable investors to voice their support for leaders and challenge the laggards on their sustainability practices.

Finance is a complex thing, and money moves around the world in complex ways. Corporate supply chains go above and beyond the company and start with their financiers. To create full accountability on sustainability we need to link the entire chain from the investors, through the company and down to the individual suppliers in the real economy – from producers to consumers, factories to pockets, ground to mouth. Through connecting people and information and creating benchmarks which enable anyone to see which organisations are performing and under-performing, sustainable finance can become a reality. It’s about enhancing how individuals access and utilize information and creating information which challenges. Imagine as you enter into a store, a notification flashes up on your phone – which tells you how sustainable the products and services are in that store. This information can not only help you buy more sustainably but is can also challenge you to re-think what you buy and the reasons behind buying it. It can equip you with a purchase power through which to challenge companies to become more sustainable, otherwise they might risk losing you as a customer.

Benchmarks can empower decision making. By merging the performance of companies, businesses and institutions and giving consumers and investors more power to sway the minds of those in place with most influence. Let’s make these ideas a reality. Let’s challenge the conventions of today by re-shaping how money impacts tomorrow.

Steve Waygood,
co-founder of WBA and Chair of WBA Steering Committee

This blog is part of WBA’s final publication: Consultation on the World Benchmarking Alliance