Institutional investors have untapped power to achieve economic and social change if they act together, according to Tim Costello, chief executive of World Vision Australia.

This will be part of the inspirational message Costello will deliver to delegates at the Conexus Financial Fiduciary Investors Symposium on May 11 at the Hydro Majestic, Blue Mountains.

He points to the influence of institutional investors at December’s agreement in Paris on limiting a rise in the world’s temperature to no more than 1.5 per cent, as a beacon for further action.

At the conference alone there was more than $40 billion committed to low-carbon investments, with more commitments made in the following weeks.

Costello said, “It is very clear that shared value which is doing good through business is good for business. Whilst we make a profit we can also be solving social and ecological problems.”

Costello contests the traditional view of fiduciary duty as solely maximising profits for members. He sees the community as a powerful stakeholder in how funds operate, granting the social licence to operate.

“No longer is it simply a set of financial investments versus social interests. This boundary, this wall is collapsing because financial interests are on behalf of broader citizen interests … [citizens] are concerned for their kids, they are concerned for a world where there is stability, for ecological challenges and bringing poor people and poor countries into the market,” he said.

Research by Dr David Lansley of World Vision concludes that for sustained economic growth to occur institutional investors, governments and civil society need to work together to move away from short-termism.

According to Costello, the model for developing this can be seen at the Paris Accord.

“You saw coalitions form, that were in many ways surprising, around a particular issue the world has to address. It is a good paradigm not just for climate change, but for sustainable development goals – name a social challenge. It showed a global village consensus that encouraged coalitions between people who hadn’t actually done this before.”

He added Australia and its super funds should be leading in this area of sustained economic and social development, showing the way for other countries to follow.

Those interested in attending the Financial Fiduciary Investors Symposium should contact David Rowley on 02 9227 5723 or

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