Islamic Finance: London, Kuala Lumpur Collaborate on Promoting the SDGs

Launches First Report to Support SDGs

The Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC), in partnership with Malaysia based International Shari’ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA), has launched the first report in a thought leadership series that aims to assist and encourage active engagement in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the global Islamic finance sector. 

The report provides an introduction to the SDGs within the context of Islamic finance, emphasising the opportunity the SDGs present to the Islamic finance sector.

The SDGs seek to address global economic, social, governance and environmental challenges by 2030 and have been adopted by 193 countries. They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations complement strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our natural environment.

With a $2.5 trillion per year financing gap the UKIFC has committed to a 24-month action oriented programme of activities to address barriers blocking Islamic Financial Institutions from embracing the SDGs. 

The report follows the launch of a global Islamic Finance and SDG Taskforce that is supported by the UK Government and involves senior level participants from across the globe.

According to Richard de Belder UKIFC Advisory Board Member, “The UKIFC firmly believes that the Shari’ah principles which underpin Islamic finance make the sector well positioned to lead in promoting the SDGs to achieve global economic and social justice combined with sustainability and to drive home the point that we are all vice regents with temporary custody of the world’s finite resources and so need to act in a way that recognises this.” 

The Executive Director, ISRA, Dr Akram Laldin further noted that “Islamic finance has a lot in common with impact investment and can play a major role in addressing the problems faced by society. It also has the potential to bring added value to the efforts to mobilize resources for the sake of realizing the SDGs.” 

With COVID-19 exposing the fragility of people and the planet, the SDGs is a recognised global framework upon which we can, collectively, build our social, environmental and economic resilience. 

With its underlying Shari’ah principles, Islamic finance is naturally aligned to, not only support but, lead the financial services sector’s efforts towards achieving the Global Goals.

TAKEAWAYS FROM THE REPORT:

 *There has been limited participation from Islamic finance sector in leading UN initiatives (such as Principles for Responsible Investment, Principles for Responsible Banking and Principles for Sustainable Insurance) that support financial institutions to align with the SDGs.

*To achieve SDG targets, Islamic Development Bank Member Countries need annual funding of between US$700 billion and US$1 trillion which represents around 40% of the total global SDG financing gap.

*Opportunity for Islamic finance to tap into emerging agnostic global liquidity pools seeking SDG-aligned products and increase tactical alignment with development bank funders.

*Alignment with the SDGs supports the tayyib (wholesome) concept which contends that the focus of Islamic finance products and services should be on the evaluation of wider societal impact rather than an overly legalistic analysis of Shari’ah compliance.

*With assets expected to reach US $3.8 trillion in 2022, through its adeptness at innovative financial structuring, Islamic finance is well placed to create instruments that drive capital towards the SDGs.

*With a deep rooted commitment to social benefit Islamic finance should be at the front and centre of this new, sustainable economic paradigm. With the SDGs emerging as the shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future, it is time for the global Islamic finance sector to step up and demonstrate its credentials for driving finance for positive change.

The Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC) is a specialist, not-for-profit, advisory and developmental body focused on promoting and enhancing the global Islamic and ethical finance industry. It has helped six countries develop enabling regulatory frameworks for Islamic finance, enhancing financial inclusion to over 15 million people, established the award-winning Ethical Finance Round Table series running since 2010, launched the world’s first joint venture between Islamic finance and the Church of Scotland, and delivered development sessions to over 500 Islamic scholars across the globe. In 2020 the UKIFC, alongside the British Government’s Treasury department, established the Islamic Finance and Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) taskforce, which will be anchored in London.

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