Faith and Finances

Most of my adult life I’ve been interested in three major topics: Faith, Family and Finances.

Today I would like to highlight an interesting trend in the world – Faith in Finances.

Who would think that world religions would decide to take the initiative on active investments? Traditionally, we think about churches as supporters of the poor, and a socially under developed and troubled population.

The United Nations launched its Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. Most public bodies in Canada are familiar with those principles. Even my daughter’s elementary school in Nelson adopted some of those principles.

But a fascinating twist in the approach of the UN to implementing those principles is engaging The Alliance of Religions and Conservation together with The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to channel, manage and administer the finances. It is the first time faith has been assigned a job of governing finances.

The idea is that world religions stand for good in people, society and Earth. By guiding financing in certain areas, world religions affect development of the world in the right direction. The emphasis is not only on how we achieve the goals, but why. The UN has brought spirituality into economics!

Being a financial junkie, I am interested in numbers. Here are some that amaze me. Based on the 2014 UN report, it would take about $7 trillion per year to reach the sustainability goals announced by the UN. This means the world is budgeting that much a year on certain goals.

What are the some of the current spending statistics of some churches?

The Church of England had a total investment fund of 6.7 billion pounds in 2014. The main policy is to support sustainable companies together with social equality.

The Islamic Development Bank has 22 billion US dollars in assets. Most of the fund is used to support infrastructure with an emphasis on the energy sector - 37%.

Lets take a look at future spending priorities agreed to by the UN in 2015:

  • The Bahai faith emphasizes the need for new technology.
  • The Church of England promotes climate change policy and the health industry.
  • Buddhists focus on education and farming.
  • The Islamic faith concentrates its efforts on improving their economics, creating better tools and budgets.
  • Jewish groups confirm their clear interest in renewable energy.
This article is based on the 2016 publication by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation – Faith in Finance.