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French embrace ethical investment

January 2003

Socially responsible investment in France has grown dramatically in the past two years, according to an analyst who has been studying SRI funds there.

Nicolas Manoni, of the Monaco-based Responsible Leadership consultancy, says his analysis shows the number of French SRI funds increased from 27 in November 2000 to 80 by August 2002.

‘There has been spectacular growth over the last two years,’ he told a conference in Monte Carlo organized by the Global Responsibility Forum, a business network that focuses on corporate social responsibility. ‘There was a period when SRI did not spread much beyond the circles of its first promoters, but that has now changed,’ he added.

Manoni said that while socially responsible investment funds still accounted for a tiny proportion of all money under management in France, that proportion had increased from 0.09 per cent to 0.27 per cent over the 20 months.

The main catalysts for the growth had been a new law requiring employee savings plans to state their policy on SRI, and the introduction of the New Economic Regulations Act, which from this year will require firms to report on their social and environmental performance.

The number of ethical funds in France tripled in the two years from the end of 1999, according to the Sustainable Investment Research International Group.

SRI could help restore the battered reputation of the world’s capital markets. Unep financial initiatives head Paul Clements-Hunt told delegates at the Monte Carlo conference: ‘SRI can play a role in rebuilding investor faith in the system by embedding the disciplines of governance, transparency and accountability.’




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