Business and Society

Financial markets “way behind” on sustainability

June 6, 2013 | 1 min read

Recently, Jo Confino spoke at the Global Conference on Sustainability and Reporting, hosted by the Global Reporting Initiative in Amsterdam. He is a journalist specialized in finance and business news and holds an MSc in Responsibility and Business Practice (University of Bath). Among other activities, he produces the Guardian's award-winning annual sustainability audit and has launched one of the world’s first interactive sustainability reporting websites. Confino paints a picture of financial markets being “very happy in their own bubble”. “They’ve made loads of money… and don’t want anyone telling them what to do and they think they’ve got the power.” He does see a possibility now to change this. “We have a moment in time where the financial markets are under the spotlight… They know that they have pretty much screwed up the global economy and they have gotten away with behaviors that in any other part of society would just not -be tolerated.”

Confino is starting to see a few leaders in the financial space who actually recognize that this cannot continue. “The game’s up; the behaviors and the actions of the financial markets are driving us to a precipice very quickly.” He sees that these leaders “have gotten to the point that they cannot deny the reality of the challenges being faced by society and the financial markets’ relationship to that and there is also recognition that if they don’t change, at some point they will be forced to change.” He compares this to the policy changes within business. “If there’s a threat of regulation coming in then it is better to change a little bit, recognize there is a problem and actually start to deal with it.”

However, only very little is happening, according to Confino. “If you speak to the leading companies, when you look at how their companies are valued, all their sustainability work which should be driving long-term performance, resilience et cetera, is not being valued in the actual market value of these companies.” That is the core of the problem. “Because until they start being valued, you’re not going to see a change in behavior.”


This video was taped at the 2013 Global Conference on Sustainability and Reporting hosted by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in Amsterdam, May 22-24, 2013.

This article may be reproduced according to our terms of use with attribution (and link, if online) to To be cited as: “Financial markets “way behind” on sustainability ”,, June 6, 2013.

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The Guardian’s sustainability reporting website
Jo Cofino on Twitter (@joconifo)

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