The General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI) launched its Sustainability Guide for Islamic Financial Institutions on the 12th May 2022, following the issuance of its corresponding consultative document in March. ISFI spoke to Dr Abdelilah Belatik, the secretary-general of CIBAFI, about how the sustainability guide will impact Islamic financial institutions.
The guide was developed to promote a systematical approach to sustainable development in the Islamic banking industry by supporting Islamic banks in integrating sustainability in their business activities while considering environmental, social and economic objectives.
“At the start of 2015 with the UN Sustainable Development Goals agenda publication, around that period in 2015–2016, we started having [an] interest in sustainability and seeking how Islamic banks and Islamic finance in general could contribute to this global agenda,” Dr Abdelillah shared, commenting on the genesis of CIBAFI’s sustainability efforts.
“At the time we started with various initiatives, mostly in terms of research and surveys with members in some conferences … The more we dug into this question, we realized that the interest of sustainability is high within the (CIBAFI) membership,” Dr Abdelillah added.
While the interest in sustainability in the field is high, a shallow approach to sustainability is holding Islamic financial institutions back. “We also realized that there is, in many instances, a misunderstanding, meaning the way it was seen it was more superficial if we can say. Not looking really deeply at how sustainability can be embedded into the operations of Islamic banks,” Dr Abdelillah noted.
“There was, and there is still, a large debate globally, on the Islamic finance side, on the role of Islamic finance itself … Should it be just finance as finance, or should it have other purposes? There is a kind of expectation from stakeholders that Islamic banks and Islamic financial institutions should be doing more,” Dr Abdelillah shared on the synergy between Islamic principles and sustainability.
This is an excerpt from an interview with Dr Abdelilah Belatik, the secretary-general of CIBAFI. Listen to the full discussion on the sustainability guide on IFN OnAir.