Green Investment - Market Transparency and Consumer Information
The impact of financial services on the environment has been attracting increasing attention for quite some time now. The area of the so called Green Investment, meaning the combination of pecuniary reward with ecological concerns, plays an especially prominent role. Following the steady growth of this market share, the issue of market transparency has become one of the major concerns for the near future.
The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the German Federal Environmental Agency followed this development by commissioning Ecologic with the planning, execution and analysis of an international workshop of experts in that field entitled: "Green Investment, Market Transparency and Consumer Information". Participants were well-known experts from seven different European countries as well as representatives of the Ministry, the Environmental Agency and Ecologic.
Lectures were given on problems of risk prevention and the best utilisation of opportunities, and were followed by discussions of these topics. First of all, the actual state of the market development and the current array of products concerning Green Investment were briefly elaborated. A highly disproportional increase of invested capital in that market segment has occurred in comparison to the traditional market, which as a result has led to a continuous rise of Green Investment's overall share in the total market. In addition, the number and variety of products has significantly increased, and a subsequent continuation of this trend was projected. Nevertheless, as several surveys introduced at the workshop indicated, only an astonishing small number of investors know about the possibility for capital investment in close consideration of ecological aspects. It was also mentioned that the examination and monitoring of the ethical and ecological criteria was difficult and sometimes even impossible for investors to pursue. Several participants proposed instruments that could help improve investor' access to information, such as eco-ratings, corporate environmental reports, special product tests, the preparation of eco-balances or -statements, or specific publications, e.g. particular consumer protection journals. Beyond that, the importance of cachets or seals of approval was discussed in detail; the possibilities to introduce them to the market were examined, as were most significantly their limitations. Insufficient market transparency determined the most outstanding outcome of the workshop: to counteract this insufficiency, it is essential to improve existing instruments and guarantee better monitoring of them, as well as to develop new instruments with the aim of ultimately establishing new criteria.