St Paul's Cathedral has hosted Al Gore, former US Vice President, environmental advocate, and co-founder and Chair of Generation Investment Management.
He spoke at a special event (19 October) aimed at energising investors and businesses to aid the transition to a more sustainable form of capitalism. The Very Reverend Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul's Cathedral, welcomed Mr Gore to the event, hosted by St Paul's Institute and the Church Investors Group as part of the fifth annual National Ethical Investment Week.
Speaking to an audience of Church and charity investors, pension funds, and investment managers he spoke on the threats facing the economic system, urging investors to invest for the long term and put an end to asset management that is "oblivious to anything other than short-term financial factors". He stated that "incentives are the secrets to capitalism's success but it matters how the incentives are designed" and pressed the audience to choose their investment managers based upon environmental, social and governance factors.
Following the presentation he responded to questions from the attentive crowd. The event was chaired by Andreas Whittam Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner at the Church Commissioners for England.
The session reflected recent research conducted by YouGov for National Ethical Investment Week that stated that nearly two-thirds of British investors expected Church and charity investors to take the lead on promoting responsible investment.
Mr Gore praised the attendees, acknowledging that "asset owners, like the ones in the room, do have the ability to insist that their assets are managed in line with their values in a sophisticated way", but reiterated that they had a responsibility to do so because future generations "will ask of us, what were you thinking? Was your attention focussed elsewhere? They'll ask if we rose to the difficult challenge we face."
Dean Ison said: "Al Gore's message about sustainable capitalism offers an inspirational ray of hope for those who feel that nothing much can be done. He challenges the 'owners of capital' not only to believe that there can be a different future, but then to act in straightforward ways to help it happen. Getting that message out so that it transforms lives and structures is the task he left us with. Let's get to it!"A comprehensive summary report of the event can be downloaded here.