Group of European Pensioners from Savings Banks and Financial Institutions


Index of documents > Euromeetings Magazine > Euromeetings Number 12


WE are currently witnessing politicians, certain economists and distinguished scientists becoming aware of the need to choose the best ideologies for our tremen­dously industrialised societies. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT is one of the solutions to the confusion of a chaotic world. The media has tried and continues to try to publi­cize this concept by reminding us for example about the importance of the Kyoto agreements concerning pollution.

How can SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT be simply defined? The United Nations Commission for the Environment an Development has drawn up its concept highlighting the links between the Economy, the Environment and So­ciety: «Sustainable Deveopment is something that satisfies our needs without any risks, for future ge­nerations, to satisfy their needs».

Sustainable Development appears on the politicians´ agenda and is a constituent part of the international organisation’s acton pro­grammes. In France there is a State Ministry for the Environment and Sustainable Deve­lopment. This unison of good intentions urges us not to let our guard down so that the far reaching scope of this concept, which apart from being a topic of the moment and is destined to have a big impact on both the economy and politics, is not obscured.

For the public in general, Sustainable Development must promote the protection of the environment and save the planet. This idea is limited and absurd seeing as a significant part of interest that the concept stands for is omitted. It is not limited to just protecting the environment. Further explana­tion is needed, given that there is still confusion about the different areas covered by the con­cept: on one hand the ethical obligations which focus more on the social aspects and on the other hand the voluntary and ecological limitations that res­pect the environment and our planets heritage more.

Sustainable Development is based on one clear princi­ple: accept the need for progress which is essential for the sur­vival of humanity and at the same time, progress that does not reject the modern world of today, accept technological, scientific, medical evo­lution etc., and at the same time fights constantly against an excessively cynical world that mainly focuses on the search of profits and benefits.

Although it is true that Sustainable Development must always maintain harmony between the present and the future, its cultural interpretation is different from one country to another: the social nature is more accentuated in Latin countries; the envi­ronmental concept is more accentuated in the Scandinavian countries and the ethi­cal criterion is more accentuated in the Anglo-Saxon countries.

Does Sustainable Development have a future?

Sustainable Develoment is still a new concept that has been faced with two main stumbling blocks fór years: the concern about creating a well balanced deve­lopment that is aware the economic needs and satisfies the needs of both society and individuals.

Major events for the future like ecological risks, globalization or the NGO´slike
Green Peace or Médicos sin Fronteras (Doctors without Borders), influence have
given the concept more credibility. It was condemned for being exclusive property of
radicals or a few ecologists' political parties for a long time, but now Sustainable
Development is making progress due to the speeding up of globalization. According
to the French sociologist and economist Genevè­ve FERONE, «in a few years time, who will be able to imagine a product, invest in the financial credit companies, build a hospital, a dam or buil­ding without including the evaluation of Sustaina­ble Development in its three; economic, social and environmental aspects?».

To conclude our approach we should also mention the Sustainable Development and so­cially responsible concept and therefore we are going to remind you of the United Nation objec­tives.

Indeed, the UNO has focused on three cen­tral ideas in terms of Sustainable Development: Human rights, the Right to Work, and the Envi­ronment, as well as nine principles out of which

we will mention the following:

  • Make sure we do not become accomplices to human rights violations.

  • Ban all types of forced or obligatory labour.

  • Abolish child labour.

  • Ban all types of discrimination during job selection processes.

  • Adopt a cautious attitude when dealing with environmental challenges.

  • Promote initiatives that increase environ­mental awareness.

  • Encourage the development and circula­tion of technology that is environmentally friendly.

Although a commitment as such is an issue for the State, reional and local corporations, Sustainable Development also needs companies to respond and act. A company that is clean or pollutes, that respects or doesn't respect the social obligations, will become, depending on its beha­viour, a decisive actor in the continuity of such a commitment. The difficulties faced by companies should not be underestimated: it is difficult to mediate between the current objectives and the future repercussions. The more focus that is put on the short term ideas of immediate profit, loss and profitability, the more the long term issues are dealt with in a fortuitous way, due to the prolon­ged lack of evaluation tools and reliable forecasts or the lack of interest in the research done in this field.

Sustainable Development and banking

For the retired staff of banks and saving banks this is considered to be a mystery: Do banks and savings banks play an active part in Sustainable Development?

For a long time the banks have not seen themselves to have been affected by Sustainable Development, although outlooks and intentions have evolved over the years and the banking and financial sector has noticed its influence on eco­nomic, social and environmental development.

Nowadays banks on the whole are included in Sustainable Development:

  • Taking part directly or through internatio­nal, European or world organisations in regards to the environmental defence of the planet. Designing the business manage­ment methods of human resources and interested parties that mobiles people in the fight against all types of inequality and ex­clusion.

  • Creatinbanking products and services that fulfil the objectives to fight against ex­clusions, or proposing «ethical funds» in the form of financial actions or obligations of companies that respect the ethics of Sus­tainable Development in terms of protec­tinnature and respecting both Human and Labour Rights.

Sustainable Development and the Caisse d´Epargne Group in France (GCE)

The GCE, Groupe Caisse d'Epargne (Sa­vings Banks Grou ), in France has adopted n attitude towards SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT that goes further than just the financial aspect. It is more like a «socially responsible» group, uni­ted in its missions of general interest. Each com­pany within the Group is encouraged to include Sustainable Development in its own field of interestboth in the search of products and supplies and , also in the fight against banking exclusion and illiteracy.

This also requires the commitment from members and the mobilisation of the employees to fight against all forms of discrimination and exclusion. The GCE hopes to combine economic activities and social utility, economic success and development of human and environmental values.

The Sustainable development section of theCaisse d'Epargne Group in France aims to start a

plan of action, awareness and promotion in thecompany which is devoted to:

The Environment: The GCE is involved with the Sustainable Development's main actors in France, in Europe and all over the World:

  • Since 2001 support the (CSR) «Corporate Social Responsibility Europe».

  • Support the United Nations International Agreement «Global compact».

  • Strategic member of the WWF (first inter­national organisation for the protection of nature) to adapt clients to the most sustai­nable ways of consumerism, like the sustai­nable water access program in Nigeria.

  • Member of ADEME «the planet wins Club »and method development «Carbon Balan­ce» devoted to satisfy the demands of the communities and municipalities to fight against the green house effect gas emis­sions.

Ethics: In regards to the banking products and services that are offered to the clients –the

idea must combine serious obligation, approval and transparency–the GCE, Groupe Caisse d'E­pargne, developed , a certain number of new pro­ducts, in accordance with the sustainable Deve­lopment concept in 2006:

  • «Socially responsible» investments.

  • Loans for energy saving.

  • Loans for the fight against banking exclu­sion.

  • Financial involvement in Forest Association companies for a sustainable management of woods and rainforests.

  • Circulation of the Sustainable Development savings book, started in 2007 by the Mi­nistry of the Economy and Finance, whose funds go to finance energy saving projects, the fight against global warming and envi­ronmental protection.

How can we get involved in Sustainable Development on a day to day basis?

As we are in a period of change, we won­der about how important these changes actually are and, what is more we shouldn´t underesti­mate their future consequences of mass felling, global warming, food shortages and population decrease.

The economist Michel GODET, member of the 3, economist and sociologist, warns us about what we should take into consideration: «Stop getting scared, but don't stop being concerned so that prevention activities and awareness develop­ment continues. Let Sustainable Development be­come a general concern».

We the «elderly» have a mission that wisdom gained with age obliges us to fulfil.

Environmental Obligation: We have enjoyed an environment that we are obliged to respect, that we have to protect for our children and our grand children, for the future genera­tions.

Ethical obligation:

  • We can directly participate in associations activities against all forms of exclusion, out of respect for mankind and the needy or those with problems.

  • We can also participate when we are cho­osing our shopping, our investments, loo­

king forproducts and “socially responsi-ble” ethical funds, a which respect Human and Labour Rights and protect nature.

And the future of Sustainable Development will not be guaranteed if we do not place MAN­KIND in the centre of our daily concerns.

The majority of traditional economic studies, whether they are liberal or socialist, focus on whatever is physical, financial or labour related and exclude an essential and fundamental ele­ment: MANKIND.

Again according to Michel GODET´s, econo­mic development and Sustainable Development in particular, will have no future if we do not consi­der MANKIND to be im­portant. Because if man­kind is involved in these changes we will always question and as a priority, the utility and consequen­ces of these present and future changes.

Jean Claude Chretien
Vice-president of the
Group - France