The Responsible Finance Institute (“RFI”), a non-profit organisation, sees potential for Islamic finance to lead convergence around responsible financial principles to make the financial sector support equitable, inclusive and sustainable economic development.
A key aspect of its mission will be exploring opportunities for collaboration between responsible finance solely focused on ESG and an Islamic finance industry that recognises the key overlaps between the principles behind ESG and the principles which guide Islamic finance.
The announcement followed the Institute’s inaugural meeting of its Council of Advisors chaired by Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz and its Board of Trustees led by Chairperson Prof. Datuk Dr. Rifaat Abdel Karim that met in Edinburgh, UK on 31 August to finalise a work plan through to the end of 2016.
The RFI’s efforts will be led by its Chief Executive Officer, Blake Goud who will lead the development of its research agenda to map the global scope for responsible finance and opportunities for convergence.
The RFI plans to also become the reference point for creating awareness for how the universal value proposition of Islamic finance contributes to the development of responsible finance industry. The research agenda will include, among other activities, the creation of an indicator of the quantitative and qualitative development of responsible finance
In addition to the RFI’s research agenda, RFI will host insightful roundtables in key centres of responsible finance globally to engage different perspectives in discussion of key issues in the industry. These roundtables will bring together professionals, academics and regulators of issues that will shape the future of the responsible finance industry. They will be supplemented with webinars to engage with additional stakeholders.
The RFI’s awareness activities will build towards a conference to be held in the second half of 2016. The RFI believes that to promote a balanced discussion of the responsible finance industry, it is vital to bring the ethical and socially responsible principles of Islamic finance into the conversation about supporting equitable, inclusive and sustainable economic development.
Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Chairperson of the RFI Council of Advisors said: "Since the financial crisis, there has been an increasing focus on the need for how financial institutions can incorporate ethical and responsible finance in their businesses across the industry. I am delighted to support RFI’s efforts towards greater convergence of the socially responsible and ethical principles of Islamic finance within the broader responsible finance industry.”
Professor Datuk Dr. Rifaat Rifaat Karim, Chairperson of the RFI’s Board of Trustees added: “The RFI will be the source for creating and disseminating research and that provides a robust, detailed and balanced perspective about responsible finance. Disseminating this research and stimulating robust discussion about how to support greater integration of ESG into Islamic financing activities as a way of moving Islamic finance closer towards the principles of Shari’ah”.
Blake Goud, the RFI’s CEO concluded: “One of the biggest missing pieces in responsible finance research today is the role that Islamic finance plays and what it can gain from engaging with the broader responsible finance community. Building awareness about the growth in areas like socially responsible investing (SRI) Sukūk and financial products that focus on financial inclusion of the global Muslim population is not fully recognised in the responsible finance sector.”