Campaign of the Month: My Money Clear Conscience
My money clear conscience is a Belgian campaign that initially began asking the banks to disinvest from arms producers, later, the goal became disinvesting from controversial arms producers.
From the beginning is was a campaign combining peace organisations and ethical bank watchers, where the ethical bankwatchers did the research on the financial links, the peace organisations did the research on the arms producers. In the present the campaign is mainly run by Netwerk Vlaanderen, Belgian NGO promoting an environmentally and socially responsible approach to money, and has expanded its line of action beyond financial institutions only investing in the arms trade but to human rights and environmental crimes.
The campaign focus is to show the financial world where its responsibility is for investments in weapons, and companies that abuse human rights or seriously damage the environment. The campaign targets bank customers, banks and the government.
Areas of action
- Taking an ethical stance and ending investments in:
* controversial weapons
* companies that support dictatorships or armed conflict.
* activities that cause serious environmental damage
* companies that do not respect workers’ rights.
- Being clear and transparent about which activities to invest in, so that customers and the government can monitor this.
- Develop and (especially) implement a sustainable investment policy.
- Create a legal framework that will:
* create a minimum ethical standard regarding investments
* stimulate ethical investments
* ensure transparency in the financial sector
- Set a positive example: invest in socially responsible activities and end support for unsustainable practices.
The campaign has achieved considerable success over the past years. This is a result of a combination of good research, lobbying, events and creative actions. Here some of the success achieved by the campaign:
* KBC removes eleven producers of cluster munitions from its portfolio (April 2006)
* Brussels opposes investments in Burma (April 2006)
* KBC removes Total from its sustainable funds
* Belgium approves a law banning investment in cluster munitions (March 2007)
* In France, Amnesty International and Handicap International break with AXA (March 2007)
* Dutch pension fund distances itself from cluster munitions (April 2007)
* Open VLD and Groen! state that social, ecological and ethical criteria have a role to play in determining government investments (May 2007)
* Trade Unions and Netwerk join forces (November 2007)
* AXA withdraws partially from companies producing landmines and cluster munitions (July 2007)
Bank customers have an important role in the “My Money. Clear Conscience?” campaign: a bank cannot change without the support of its customers. You can play a role as a bank customer and join in the campaign.
Send an email to your bank
With a couple of clicks of your mouse, you can support the campaign. The website http://www.banksecrets.be gives an overview of controversial investments made by banks. If you don’t want your bank to be involved in activities that are harmful for people or the planet, send an email (petition). Ask your friends, family and anyone else you know to send an email as well, because the more emails that a bank receives, the stronger the pressure.
Talk to a bank employee
As bank customer, you have a right to know what the bank is doing with your money. Do you want to know which companies, projects or activities are receiving your money? Go along to your bank, and ask a bank employee.
This checklist can help you: http://www.bankgeheimen.be/babbel/babbel_en.pdf
Organise a training or show a documentary: http://www.netwerkvlaanderen.be/en/index.php?option=com_content&task=bl…
You could also encourage friends, family, or colleagues to open a sustainable bank account or buy a sustainable banking product.