The European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks (FEBEA) held its Annual Assembly and Conference in Athens on September 25th and 26th, organized by the Cooperative Bank of Chania. The conference provided a platform for over 200 participants to engage in meaningful discussions and featured the distinguished presence of Professor Paul H Dembinski, director of the ‘Observatoire de la Finance’ in Geneva, who delivered the keynote address.
The FEBEA Annual Conference served as a testament to the commitment of ethical banks across Europe and beyond, promoting financial practices that prioritize sustainability and social responsibility. As the global financial landscape evolves, these institutions aim to lead the way towards a more equitable and environmentally conscious future.
High-level representatives from key FEBEA partner organizations, such as the European Microfinance Network, the Microfinance Centre, the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, the European Investment Fund, the European Investment Bank, and the Council of Europe Development Bank, were also present at the event.
The Assembly concluded with the election of a new Board of Directors, who will lead the organization for the next three years. In this election, Pedro Manuel Sasia Santos renewed his position as president, Panagiotis Tournavitis assumed the role of vice president, and Anne Sophie Bougouin was appointed Treasurer.
Throughout the Conference, eight institutions belonging to FEBEA presented their activities and their impact on various societal levels. The discussions highlighted the mission of ethical banks and innovative practices aimed at making a positive impact on local communities.
For a real investment in sustainability, Professor Dembinski, in his address, emphasized the urgent need for businesses to adopt a new approach, aligning their operations with ambitious sustainability goals. He articulated the concept of “achieving financial strength by doing good,” urging the financial sector to embrace its responsibility and transition towards ethical banking practices. The professor highlighted the importance of “real investment” in sustainability, underscoring the need to reform decision-making processes. He also addressed the issue of “greenwashing”, emphasizing the importance of genuine environmental, moral, and social considerations in financial entities’ management.
On his part, FEBEA President Peru Sasia underlined the fact that “ethics can be learned and taught,” highlighting the need to carefully diagnose the complexity of the international environment at a time of great change. He also referred to certain FEBEA priorities to be strongly set in the public debate, in view of the upcoming European elections, on the integration of social impact and good governance in financial products, the support for the energy transition in a sustainable way, and the increasing risk of greenwashing.
FEBEA – the European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks and Financiers – is a non-profit association based in Brussels. It gathers 33 financial institutions whose aim is to finance social and solidarity economy (SSE) and projects with social, environmental and cultural value in 17 European countries, serving more than 700,000 people.
Its objective is to support the exchange of experiences and promote cooperation between social economy and social finance practitioners.
Each FEBEA member is integrated in the SSE Sector in its country, focusing on mobilising savings and equity from responsible citizens and using these funds to finance sustainable development and local communities. FEBEA is member of GECES, the European Commission’s expert Group on Social Economy and Social Entrepreneurship, and of Social Economy Europe (SEE).