top of page

Obama’s harsh lessons for the financial sector

Former US President Obama delivered the annual Nelson Mandela lecture yesterday and, as always, listening to his oratory left me inspired, with new vigour to make the world a better place, to take a look in the mirror and develop those character traits that have come to epitomise Mandela: humility, courage, compassion, hope and determination.

However, Obama's speech also compelled me to - finally - hit 'publish' button on the ZeniZeni site. I use the word compelled because Obama mentioned the finance sector twice in his speech, both times in a negative context. The main body of his speech touched on how far the world had come over the last 100 years in terms of universal human rights, scientific and economic development and triumph over adversity. He also cautioned that there was still a lot of work to be done in many areas, stating that "for far too many people, the more things have changed, the more things have stayed the same". So he had ample space to mention finance, or indeed the financial sector, in either a positive and negative light.

He chose the latter, stating that "perhaps more than anything else, the devastating impact of the 2008 financial crisis, in which the reckless behavior of financial elites resulted in years of hardship for ordinary people all around the world, made all the previous assurances of experts ring hollow - all those assurances that somehow financial regulators knew what they were doing, that somebody was minding the store, that global economic integration was an unadulterated good". He also mentioned that "many titans of industry and finance are increasingly detached from any single locale or nation-state, and they live lives more and more insulated from the struggles of ordinary people in their countries of origin".

After hearing these words, I needed no stronger a reminder of what needed to be done for the finance sector.

So today, the 18th of July 2018, Mandela Day and the day after Obama's Mandela annual lecture, is the day that I am compelled to hit the 'publish' button on the ZeniZeni Sustainable Finance website and to write this first blog post. There will be many posts to come, all of which will aim to inspire debate, change and action towards sustainable finance.

I look forward to our journey together!


bottom of page