Media Release: Banking on debt is no financial solution, say campaigners

THE need to restructure the economy and redefine banking in terms of community and environment is being stressed at the 2012 Festival of Spirituality and Peace.

In two sessions that form part of a wide-ranging series of ‘conversations’ on the future of people and planet in a globalising world, major challenges are being made to the existing economic structures, which have presided over financial chaos greater than that experienced in the 1930s, say critics.

‘The Quest for Ethical Banking’ was the topic of a dialogue at St John’s Church this afternoon (10 August) involving David Cousland of Triodos Bank, Giles Cuthbert from the Chartered Banker Institute, Saftar Sarwar from the Islamic Finance Council, and Beth Stratford from Friends of the Earth Scotland.

Says a spokesperson: “The need to reconnect the money economy to local needs, productive activity and the balance of the eco-system was stressed.

“Alternative banking institutions and arrangements already exist.

“Greater public awareness of the options is needed, said speakers.

“It was also acknowledged that all the great faiths have prohibitions on usury, exhortations towards sharing wealth, and pronouncements on giving and receiving which suggest that new ways of economic thinking also have ancient roots.”

That theme is being picked up in the evening at an ambitious conversation entitled ‘Calling for the New Jubilee: Financial Chaos, Occupy and Faith’, involving faith leaders and campaigners.

They include Alys Mumford of Jubilee Scotland, the Rev Dr Chris Wigglesworth from the Church of Scotland, and Simon Barrow from the religion and society think-tank, Ekklesia.

The ‘Jubilee’ theme refers not to recent Royal celebrations, but to the practices of the restoration of land and debt in ancient Israel and in the message of Jesus which anti-debt campaigners have used to inspire a modern movement for change.

Debt imposed on poor and low-income countries for the benefit of richer nations and institutions is unjust and should be written off as part of a substantial rebalancing of the world economy, campaigners argue.

Jubilee Scotland was founded by a broad movement of advocates, faith groups and civil society organisations to continue the work of the Jubilee 2000 coalition in Scotland.

It is part of an international movement for the cancellation of all unpayable and unjust sovereign debts, and for the establishment of a fair and transparent process by which such debts will be prevented from accumulating again in the future.

The Festival of Spirituality and Peace, which is hosting the conversations, is one of Edinburgh’s most exciting and diverse Festivals. It features over 400 activities across 21 venues throughout August.

With top-quality speakers, conversations, performances, film, food, exhibitions, family activities, workshops, art, culture and more, the festival is now celebrating its twelfth year.

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