The first Sri fund in Europe was launched in the Uk in the ‘80s. As first mover, the Uk Sri market for at least two decades has been the european leader.
In recent years, however, the French Sri market reached and then strengthened its leadership in Europe. The fact is confirmed in the last report from Eurosif.
France is also the main example in Europe, and all over the world as far as I know, when it comes to the use of an Sri label. The French Sri label was introduced in 2009 by Novethic, a non profit media and research centre based in Paris, member of the Caisse des Dépôts group. You can easily find on the web a nice video showing in brief what the Sri label is and how it works.
Hard to say how much the presence of an Sri label helped the French Sri market grow. In my opinion the influence has been relevant. Take Italy, where we don’t have an Sri label: the first socially responsible screened fund was launched in my country almost twenty years ago (it was the summer of 1997), but Italy’s Sri retail market is still far from reaching the level it reached in France or in the Uk. Even though in Italy there are examples of excellence and signs of dynamism.
Now the French Sri market might soon be joined by the German one. I mean that Germany also is studying the introduction of an Sri label. Questioned by mondosri, the German Sif, FNG, makes us kindly know: «Yes, we’re currently developing a label for sustainable funds. FNG developed a label concept with an internal working group and discussed it with various stakeholders. To bring the label into the market, FNG was looking for a partner with a request for proposal. The partner was found: it is the French think tank Novethic. Together, we’re now working on detailing and finalizing our concept. The market entry is planned for 2015. The first labels will be awarded in autumn 2015».
Far from believing that an Sri label is exempt from criticism, I have long advocated that the introduction of a label could have positive effects on the Sri market also in Italy. First of all, in terms of visibility of Sri financial products. More in general, in terms of popularization of knowledge and culture of sustainable and responsible investing.
It will be interesting to verify whether also in Germany the introduction of an SRI label will have the same positive influence it had in France.