Photo: ICAN | Aude Catimel
SfC member Etica Sgr seeks signatories for Nuclear Weapons Abolition Pledge
In June 2022, SfC’s member Etica Sgr took part in the first meeting of states parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), where it presented a statement signed by more than 30 investors and written together with the Nobel Prize organisation ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons). Today the signatories are more than 100, representing about €230bn in assets. Among them, the SfC members ABS, BKC, Ethius, fair-finance, Fondazione Finanza Etica and Forma Futura.
Four question to Aldo Bonati, Stewardship & ESG Networks Manager at Etica Sgr
Aldo, why do you think this statement was necessary?
The alarming state of nuclear armaments demands immediate action. The annual report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reveals that the nine nuclear-armed countries have continued to invest in modernising their arsenals. In fact, the global number of “operational” warheads ready for use has increased, posing a significant threat to global security. While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has further strained diplomatic relations, it is disheartening to note that the transparency surrounding nuclear armaments has decreased. Most alarming is the intensification of rhetoric and threats surrounding the use of nuclear weapons. It creates an unprecedented risk of their actual deployment since World War II.
Why should investors sign the statement?
This dangerous climate of geopolitical tension and escalating distrust necessitates urgent nuclear diplomacy and strengthened international controls. Within this context, the importance of collective efforts to address nuclear disarmament cannot be overstated. But also the financial sector can do its part and play an important role. The 2022 report “Risky Returns: Nuclear weapon producers and their financiers”, a joint publication of ICAN and PAX, details how 306 financial institutions made over $746 billion available to 24 companies heavily involved in the production of nuclear weapons, between January 2020 and July 2022. The most important are: Vanguard, State Street, Capital Group BlackRock and Bank of America. The report emphasises the great power the financial sector could have if all institutions stopped funding the production of new weapons of mass destruction.
What do you ask in the statement?
We are calling upon individuals and organisations to join forces in the cause of nuclear weapons abolition. We believe that every effort counts in making the world a safer place for future generations. The statement calls for the prohibition of all forms of financial assistance to the nuclear weapons industry. It asks treaty members to require both state and non-state enterprises to ban all nuclear weapons related activity, such as their use, development, production and storage. We also call on countries that have signed the treaty to strengthen assistance to those affected by nuclear weapons and to commit to the cleanup of contaminated environments, including for testing and experimentation.
From the countries that have not signed it, including Italy, we ask to participate in the work at least as an observer.
Do you think that weapons can sometimes generate a positive social impact?
Definitely not. The principles of sustainable finance do not change according to the needs of the moment. In 23 years, Etica’s funds have never invested in companies involved in the production, use, maintenance, distribution and stockpiling of controversial weapons or key parts (such as anti-personnel mines, cluster bombs, nuclear bombs), nor in conventional weapons. This decision has a profound and non-negotiable value, even in today’s complex contexts. Even the current version of the Social Taxonomy includes weapons among harmful activities, citing the Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.