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WORLD NEWS | What ancient wisdom can teach businesses about sustainable finance

WORLD NEWS | What ancient wisdom can teach businesses about sustainable finance

London, 31 December (Dialogue) The business world tends to prioritize the concepts of profit maximization, economies of scale and the importance of shareholder value. These concepts have become deeply ingrained in the global financial system as the industry has evolved over the centuries.

But some businesses in certain parts of the world operate on the basis of respect for all living things, not just humans—especially in countries that practice dharmic religions such as Jainism and Hinduism (mainly in the Indian subcontinent, southeast and central Asia) ). Understanding this way of working can help the global business world become more sustainable and tackle the climate crisis.

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The research shows that nature has long been viewed as a resource or something “outside” the economic system that exists for the benefit of humans. But the fact that human-caused extinction rates are at least 1,000 times higher than natural extinction rates shows just how interdependent humans and nature are. The impact of business on our climate is also evident, with 71% of the world’s fossil fuel emissions coming from just 100 multinational corporations.

Addressing this attitude towards nature in much of the business world requires a change in economic theory and belief systems to recognize the sentience of all life on Earth and the need to protect other living things. This will require profound behavioral and cultural shifts to address the environmental challenges the world currently faces.

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But economics and finance professionals often take this issue out of their equations, fueling social and ecological damage. The growing global green finance movement is certainly a step in the right direction, but a more radical change in financial theory is needed to tackle the environmental crisis and make all businesses more sustainable.

religious inspiration

My research shows how finance can use some ancient religious traditions to encourage this behavioral and cultural shift. In fact, there are many belief systems that do not separate nature from humans, but instead encourage the protection of nature. Businesses can follow these teachings and still be successful.

For example, Dharma is often understood as moral virtues and outlines the path to a sustainable life. India’s dharmic religions — the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain belief systems — have never separated humans from animals and nature. These belief systems have never been anthropocentric (the belief that humans are at the heart of life on Earth). Their traditions go back thousands of years, long before humanity faced the existential crisis we face now.

What is even more prescient about these ancient religions is that their sustainable practices are practically hidden in plain sight, especially to the world of business and finance. Their leaders have set out to do business sustainably simply because they have always seen it as the right way to do business – and their motivations are driven by culture, beliefs and traditions.

For example, for thousands of years, Jains have believed in respect for all living things, including plants and animals. The central philosophy of Jainism — one of the world’s oldest religions — is called Ahimsa, and it’s based on nonviolence in thought, word, and deed.

During my research, I interviewed several prominent Jain business leaders who follow this way of thinking, including Vallabh Bhanshali, co-founder of Indian investment firm Enam Securities Group, and Abhay Firodia, chairman of Indian automaker Force Motors. , whose father invented Asia’s most popular affordable transportation vehicle, the motor rickshaw.

For many Jains, as well as followers of other orthodox religions such as Sikhs and Hindus, philanthropy is “a duty, not an option”. Their goal is to work within the nature and constraints of money, practicing a compassionate form of capitalism.

But this attitude is not limited to the Dharma religion. Research shows that prior to colonization, many parts of Africa used strong social and communal networks of shared ownership.

Founded in 1871, Swedish bank Handelsbanken operates organically by building local and sustainable trust and relationships. It provides vital funding to small businesses that the main high street banks may overlook.

beyond finance

Finance is often a destructive force in communities, societies and the natural world. It promotes individualism and can lead to inequality rather than cooperation and income equality.

Ignoring the various capitals beyond finance—culture, relationships, trust, leadership, spirituality, and community capital—and their importance in building content and harmonious societies can be addressed by looking to these other ancient traditions. Understanding these other types of capital may help restore and elevate their importance in the business world.

Faith has been at the heart of finance for millennia – even the City of London had 104 churches before the World Wars – but is often overlooked in contemporary financial research and education. By making business education more inclusive of diverse cultures and wisdom, more industry leaders can learn to operate with conscience, contentment and responsibility. (dialogue)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)

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