US$ 80 trillion

I imagine the heading for this blog caught your attention. 80 trillion is not a number you hear or see very often. 80 trillion dollars is a mind bogglingly large sum.

It was uttered in a meeting room in Parliament yesterday. In the room were several institutional investors, financial analysts and representatives of groups or networks of investors. We’re talking pension funds and other types of big bucks operators, some of which I had heard of before, several of which I had not.

One of the people introduced herself as representing a network of investors who between them managed funds in the order of 80 trillion dollars. That was only one of them. Trying to add up the amount of money managed by everyone present broke my calculator.

This was a unique gathering. The first of its kind in the UK and I have not heard of anything similar elsewhere in Europe. I was glad to have been able to help convene it.

But it was not the first meeting of its kind anywhere. There is a group of ethical investors in the USA that had previously become shareholder activists to press businesses in which they had money to act on climate change, sex trafficking in the tourist industry, slave labour and matters of that kind.

Following a call from the Child Dignity Alliance several Christian led funds decided to address tech companies to discover what they were doing to keep children safe when using their products or services. They co-opted me as one of their advisers. Verizon was one of the first companies the group engaged with publicly although they have met privately with several others. I gather the preferred strategy is not to press for votes at company AGMs, but if all else fails…..

These ethically-based shareholder activists were linking up with conventional funds and having a great deal of success in convincing them that the growing threat of regulation in so many countries around the world meant their money was at risk. These investors owed it to the people whose money they managed to get “their” businesses to up their game, and right sharpish.

Money talks. From little acorns, mighty oak trees grow. Pick your metaphor.On 24th May, 2019, of all days, I have a smile on my face. Watch this space.

About John Carr

John Carr is one of the world's leading authorities on children's and young people's use of digital technologies. He is Senior Technical Adviser to Bangkok-based global NGO ECPAT International and is Secretary of the UK's Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety. John is now or has formerly been an Adviser to the Council of Europe, the UN (ITU), the EU and UNICEF. John has advised many of the world's largest technology companies on online child safety. John's skill as a writer has also been widely recognised.
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