The handover of the baton to the leadership team in the “Global Ethos Research Group Finance and Economy” this year allows us to look forward – but also a little bit back …. One of the most important insights from the work of the past 4 years is the necessity to consider all social, economic, technological, ecological, cultural and spiritual sub-areas in which human beings are placed at the same time. In all decisions – also and especially in companies! The world and companies operating in it must be understood, analyzed and managed as interacting networks. Only those who take this integration with all its facets into account can remain successful in the long term! This is what sustainability really comes down to.
Since 2017, on the topic of financial market ethics and value orientation, my first contact with the renowned Global Ethos Institute took place, my enthusiasm about this research network has continued to grow every year. With Dr. Bernd Villhauer and my business ethics colleague Prof. Dr. em. Johannes Hoffmann, who, by the way, like me was Chairman of the Environmental Council of the Umweltbank – only the very first in the history of the bank, we were able to jointly anchor and continue the achievements of the “Research Group on Ethical-Ecological Rating (FGEÖR)” in the “Global Ethos Research Group on Finance and Economics”. The basis of our research work was to be a global ethos on collective world responsibility. We did not want to use a specific scientific school of thought of philosophical or theological ethics, which justifies its existence out of demarcation. Rather, the defining element was a minimum of globally shared values that can be found comprehensively in a wide variety of cultures, religions and nations: Humanity and human orientation, the golden rule as an expression of proactive positive reciprocity, communal global responsibility in equality and partnership, justice, truthfulness and peaceful non-violence are among them.
On this basis, we have focused on finance up to the present day, since the regulatory design of financial markets has a decisive influence on our global economic activity. In doing so, we have been able to develop proposals for the most pressing issues, such as a full budget-driven decarbonization of the economy. We were able to draw application-oriented attention to powerful levers for transforming our economy via financial markets and central banks, and also reveal previously neglected research needs. This includes, for example, how to transform the financial system from a super-system back to a serving system of a sustainable real economy, how capital can holistically map planetary boundaries and humanity, how to implement cultural compatibility in international corporate practice, and how sustainability orientation is optimally supported with digitalization even in medium-sized businesses. I personally felt it was very important that we exposed the root of the prevailing sustainability rating regime that shapes global financial markets quite significantly. It is a tremendous success that normative considerations, which can ultimately be traced back to the above global ethos values, have become the international gold standard in an industry that even today understands values predominantly in pecuniary terms.
The cooperation with our colleagues from the Club of Rome – visible most recently at the meeting in Frankfurt together with Dr. Mamphela Ramphele (Co-President) and Peter Blom (Chair, Rethinking Finance Hub) – could greatly enrich our research group and has sharpened all of our understanding on different viewpoints on global issues. Community-based global responsibility in equality and partnership imperatively requires international discourse in research as well. For this, my thanks go above all to our previous chairperson Dr. Ndidi Nnoli-Edozien, who, together with the actors of the Club of Rome, inspired me during the work in the research group to the following deep conviction: “One of the most important insights of our time is the unconditional consideration of the global interconnection of all social, economic, technological, ecological, cultural and spiritual sub-areas in which mankind is placed. In all decisions – also and especially in companies! The world and the companies operating in it must therefore be understood, analyzed and managed as interacting networks. Whoever ignores this integration with all its facets will no longer be successful in the long term!” This is also my personal conclusion of the work as Member of the Board until the beginning of 2023. Thank you Ndidi and thank you all in the Board team and in the circle of Fellows until today. We have grown together and will continue to evolve!
Best wishes to our new Board – of course we will remain a team, after everybody will continue to contribute as “Fellows”, because we stay united by the values of the Global Ethos Research Group Finance and Economics also in the future: humanity and human orientation, proactive positive reciprocity, collective global responsibility, equality, partnership, justice, truthfulness and peaceful non-violence!