Sustainable financial products recommendation

Context and purpose of the recommendation on sustainable financial products

There are several kinds of sustainable financial products, the best known of which are ethical or sustainable investment funds (SRI UCIs). Lesser known products include among other things sustainable insurance products, sustainable savings products and sustainable credits (‘green loans’).

The actual ‘sustainable character’ of a particular product depends, to a large extent, on the nature of the product distributor or promotor. This makes it difficult for consumers to see which products are ‘genuinely’ sustainable, all the more because there are different opinions about what is meant by ‘sustainable’ or ‘ethical’. Nuclear energy, tobacco or genetically modified organisms are just some examples of ‘controversial activities’, the financing of which by means of a sustainable product is currently under discussion.

A number of minimum standards have to be taken into account. Large-scale financing of the arms industry or of companies which blatantly violate human rights, is hard to justify.

For consumers, it is of utmost importance to be able to find out, in a clear and easy way, whether the sustainable character of a particular product actually corresponds with their personal idea of what this should be.

Moreover, they have to be sure that the product they have purchased, indeed serves as a support for sustainable purposes, either directly or indirectly.