Second Islamic Finance & SDG Taskforce meeting takes place

The second Islamic Finance and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Taskforce meeting has taken place virtually bringing together over 50 global Islamic finance leaders. At the meeting, convened by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in partnership with the UK Islamic Finance Council (UKIFC), the SBP announced the launch of a country level working group bringing the leading banks across Pakistan to focus on green finance and the SDGs. Two further working groups, to be driven by Taskforce members, focused on Disclosure and Reporting and Education and Awareness were also announced.

The Taskforce is playing a leading role to encourage the adoption of the SDGs, highlight the green finance opportunity and promote the UN Principles of Responsible Banking within the global Islamic finance sector. This represents a $2.5 trillion global investment opportunity as part of the post-Covid-19 economic recovery. The Islamic Development Bank suggest that between $700m and $1trillion of this is within its member countries presenting an immediate opportunity for Islamic finance institutions.

State Bank of Pakistan Governor, His Excellency Dr. Reza Baqir, announced the launch of a Pakistan country working group that will:

“Explore the inherent strength of Islamic finance to develop a responsible business framework by engaging academia, policy makers and practitioners towards achieving SDGs.”

Leading the Awareness group UKIFC Advisory Board Member and meeting chair, Richard de Belder commented:

“Having identified a knowledge gap this working group will focus on activities that increase awareness, promote understanding and encourage adoption of the SDGs amongst the global Islamic financial and their related primary stakeholders.”

Leading the Disclosure and Reporting working group Gatehouse Bank CEO Charles Haresnape added:

“This working group is a unique opportunity to bring the Islamic banks signed up to the UN Principles of Responsible Banking together to share experiences with a view to developing a more consistent approach to disclosure and report.”

Despite a natural alignment few Islamic financial institutions are engaged with the SDGs. As we enter the decade of delivery the Taskforce has become an important platform to raise awareness of the Global Goals and catalyse practical action amongst Islamic financial institutions.

The meeting, also heard from Dr Hayat Sindi, Senior Advisor to the President, Islamic Development Bank, who spoke about how Islamic financial institutions are demonstrating resilience as world events continue to reshape the landscape of global financial services; how IFI’s can prepare themselves for the opportunities and challenges posed by such a changing economy; and especially with regards to investing in science and innovation so poorer countries can provide an adequate response to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.


About The Taskforce:

With assets expected to reach US $3.8 trillion in 2022, Islamic finance is one of the fastest growing sectors in the global financial industry. Achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will take over US$5 trillion per year investment with the current financing gap standing at around $2.5 trillion per year.

The purpose of the taskforce is to explore the role the Islamic finance industry can play in addressing this funding gap and to better understand the commercial opportunities the SDGs present for the sector.

The UN’s SDGs are the blueprint to achieving a better and more sustainable future for all, addressing issues such as climate change, education and equality. Achieving the SDGs requires a coordinated global effort with Governments and private sector, including the financial services sector as a whole. Analysis indicates there is limited engagement by the global Islamic finance sector and this focused taskforce has been established by the UKIFC.

UKIFC supports Ethical Finance 2020

UKIFC was proud to be s upporter of Ethical Finance 2020. The annual summit, organised by the Global Ethical Finance Initiative, was held virtually for the first time in 2020 on the new EFx platform. The 4 days of the summit saw leaders from across finance participating in discussion on ethics, responsibility and sustainability in banking, investment, insurance, regulation and more.

Figures at the summit included H.E. Dr Bandar Hajjar, President of the IsDB, Eric Usher, Head of UNEP FI, economist & author John Kay, Rafe Haneef of CIMB, Richard Curtis, filmmaker & campaigner, Alison Rose, CEO of NatWest Group, Hasan Aljabri, CEO of SEDCO Holding Grouo, Samer Abu Aker, CEO of SEDCO Capital, Nigel Topping, the COP26 High-level Climate Action Champion, and Maunel Pulgar-Vidal, President of COP20.

Videos from all of the sessions are available now on YouTube.

UKIFC announces support of 'Faith In SDGs' and the Path to COP26 campaign

UKIFC is a signatory of the Global Ethical Finance Initiative's Path to COP26 campaign, and is collaborating on the #FaithInSDGs workstream, which forms a part of the campaign. Ahead of the crucial 2021 Glasgow climate summit, the two organisations are seeking to coordinate faith groups, who have the power to invest in transformative change through their holdings.

SDG Taskforce

Inaugural Islamic Finance and the SDGs taskforce meeting takes place

The inaugural Islamic Finance and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Taskforce meeting took place virtually, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, bringing together over 40 global Islamic finance leaders. The pioneering meeting, convened by the Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC) in partnership with the UK Government, explored the role Islamic finance can play in addressing the $2.5 trillion SDGs funding gap as part of the post-Covid-19 economic recovery.

Islamic Development Bank President Bandar Hajjar welcomed the initiative calling for greater cooperation between the public and private sectors and to use the SDGs to inspire financial innovation.

UKIFC Confirms Support for Ethical Finance 2019

We are delighted to be formally supporting the Ethical Finance 2019 summit; the premier event in Edinburgh advocating finance for positive change. The 2 day gathering of banks, investors, asset owners, regulators and development agencies from across the globe will explore the transition to a sustainable financial system where capital drives positive change.

The summit on October 8 and 9 is being organised by the Global Ethical Finance Initiative and is supported by the Scottish Government. Bodies represented will include the United Nations, Bank of England, Financial Conduct Authority, RBS, Baillie Gifford and HSBC. It is the fourth time the summit has been staged in Edinburgh, and it will be attended by over 400 senior representatives from more than 200 companies and organisations from across the globe.

As part of the Ethical Finance summit UKIFC and Church of Scotland are co-hosting a private round table and dinner with global industry leaders / senior religious guests. The event, which will take place in Edinburgh on Wednesday 9th October 2019, will look at interfaith collaboration and the role of faith based values in modern finance. It will provide a unique opportunity to discuss progress and next steps in relation to the Edinburgh Finance Declaration.

We have a limited number of discount codes (applicable to early bird rates) for Ethical Finance 2019 so please get in touch with for details.

[grve_button button_text="Register Here" button_link="||target:%20_blank|"][grve_title title="Topics to be explored at Ethical Finance 2019 include:"][grve_list]

  • Financing Sustainability: Designing for A Future on Earth
  • SDGs and the UN Principles for Responsible Banking
  • Worthy of Trust? Law, Ethics and Culture in Financial Institutions
  • Accelerating Green Finance
  • FinTech for Good
  • Data Paradigm Shift – Exploring ESG Data Needs
  • Values-Based Investing – an Asset Owner Perspective
  • Measuring Impact – Asset Manager Challenges
  • Finance for Sustainable Supply Chains
  • Innovative Financing Structures and Using Blended Capital

[/grve_list][grve_title title="Confirmed speakers include:"][grve_list]

  • Dame Susan Rice, Practitioner Member, Banking Standards Board
  • Sir Rodger Gifford, Chair, Green Finance Taskforce
  • Sarah Breeden, Executive Director for UK Deposit Takers Supervision, Bank of England
  • Saker Nusseibeh, CEO, Hermes Investment Management
  • Richad Soundardjee, Chief Executive Officer (Middle East), Societe Generale
  • The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury (Video address)
  • Tan Sri Dato Azman Mokhtar, Former MD, Khazanah Nasional Berhad
  • David Blunt, Head of Conduct Specialists Department, Supervision – Financial Conduct Authority
  • Charles Haresnape, CEO, Gatehouse Bank


More speakers are listed on

UKIFC Deliver an Islamic Finance Course in Edinburgh

The positive convergence of ethical and Islamic finance, coupled with the demand from a wide range of industry stakeholders keen to develop their knowledge and understanding in these overlapping areas, has led the Ethical Finance Hub to launch a unique and flexible executive education summer course offering in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Despite the remarkable recent growth of ethical and Islamic finance there remain few academic or professional courses that provide practically-focused pragmatic training.

The 3 day "Islamic Finance - An Ethical Alternative", an intensive practical Course designed, developed and delivered by the UKIFC, will begin with a comprehensive introduction to Islamic finance, its ethical foundations, core structures, and creation of Islamic banking products. It will then offer practical guidance in creating enabling regulatory frameworks, particularly within a secular context, before exploring the nuances of Shariah compliant asset management. The Course concludes with a session focused on the legal, mechanics and trends within Islamic finance real estate transactions.

The course will take place at Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University Monday 25th June 2018 - Wednesday 27th June 2018. with the 2 day "Ethical Finance and Investment Paradigm" takes place over the following two days.

For further information and to register please click HERE.



'How Ethical is Islamic Finance' Thematic Workshop set for February 2018

Following the success of the October 2016 event on Shari’a Governance, the Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC) and the International Shari’ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA) in association with K&L Gates are delighted to provide details of our next Thematic Workshop on 21st February 2018, which will focus on the topic of the relationship between Islamic finance and ethical finance. The workshop, sponsored by DDCAP,  the Bahrain EDB and Gatehouse Bank, will convene at 09:30am at K&L Gates One New Change London EC4M 9AF.

The trend of positioning Islamic finance within the broader umbrella of ethical finance has gained momentum in recent years. Following Shari’a principles, it is argued Islamic finance is seen to be intrinsically interwoven with ethical finance values and strategies.

However, this view is not shared across the whole of the financial services industry. Critics of Islamic finance would challenge the notion of Islamic finance being ethical by questioning the creation of synthetic products to overcome textual restrictions with the result that the economic outcome and risk sharing profile is identical or very similar to that of conventional banks.

This conference will review and reflect on a number of key areas to explore the question of “How Ethical is Islamic Finance?”

Speakers include:

The event will cover several key themes including:

  • The Shari’a Scholar Debate - Is Islamic finance following the spirit of the law or just the letter?
  • Is Islamic Finance an ethical alternative - what social impact has it made in the past 20 years?
  • With $40trn in SRI funds under management, is the Islamic Finance sector branded optimally?
  • By focusing on the banking model, has Islamic Finance restricted its ability to provide more ethical and socially responsible solutions?
  • Malaysia and UK innovation case studies – value-based intermediation and interfaith shared values framework

To view detailed agenda of the themes for the day click here.

Click here to view highlights from our 2016 event “Is the Current Model of Shari’ah Governance Fit for Purpose?




Sponsored by:                            

UKIFC's Ethical Finance Round Table explores the role financial institutions can play in meeting UN SDG's

The 14th Edinburgh Ethical Finance Round Table took place on Monday 13th November 2017 for the first time in the offices of Baillie Gifford, who will be hosting the series for the next 2 years.  The topic for the meeting was the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the role the financial sector can play in making them a reality.

The first presentation was given by Fran van Dijk, one of the founding partners of One Stone Advisors, who are leading consultants in the field of sustainability, operating principally in the UK, Scandinavia and the Netherlands.  Fran reported that the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have increasingly become a focus area for their clients in recent times, both seeking to map their own strategy against the SDGs and, in some cases, going beyond that to seek to link and adapt their strategies to make a positive contribution to meeting the goals.

A major challenge in achieving the SDGs by their target date of 2030 will be finance, much of which will have to come from the private sector.  However that will bring many opportunities too both in generating revenue from change (estimated at a possible $12 trillion) and in creating jobs (estimated at a possible 380 million).  Fran then gave a number of examples of businesses which together or in partnership were actively contributing to progress – these included Triodos Bank, BNP Paribas, which was developing the "Solactive" index, and the World Benchmarking Alliance lead by Aviva, which was seeking to develop a comprehensive SDG benchmark over the next 3 years.

The second presentation was given by Lee Qian of Baillie Gifford, introducing their "Positive Change Fund" in which he played a leading role. The strategy of the Fund is to invest solely in companies making a positive contribution to social or environmental challenge, while continuing to deliver attractive returns. The Fund had only recently been launched and currently stood at a level of £12 million but it was hoped in time this could reach a value of up to $10 billion.

The view underlying the investment strategy was that companies in this category will prosper in the long-term, so this is very much a "patient capital" approach.  The management of the Fund operates by way of intensive internal analysis, focusing on the intention, business practices and product impact of the companies in question.  The SDGs form a useful framework for measuring the last of these aspects and also provide a means of communicating and reporting on the impact achieved to investors.

The discussion was then opened to the floor.

One question which was raised was whether there was a danger of the SDGs becoming merely a "box ticking" exercise or whether they were actually stimulating new investment.  In response, Fran van Dijk agreed that it was essential that the impact of investment should be closely assessed against the SDGs – in her view the forthcoming Aviva benchmark should help in this.

It was noted that as yet the UK was one of the countries which had not yet formulated its policy in relation to SDGs and it appeared that the government was seeking contributors to put together chapters on each of the individual Goals.  It was suggested therefore that it might be a suitable project for the EFRT to collaborate on one of the chapters in question.

There was some comment that for certain sectors the SDGs may appear to be framed in too general and high level way.  Nevertheless the view of the presenters was that they could still form a very useful starting point for any company's strategy.

"Faith in finance" is the theme for the lastest Edinburgh Ethical Finance Round Table

The 13th Edinburgh Ethical Finance Round Table took place in the offices of Maclay Murray & Spens LLP at Quartermile on 15th June 2017.  The topic for the meeting was faith-based finance and the faith perspective on ethical investment.

The first presentation was given by Catherine Alexander, chair of the trustees of the Church of Scotland Investors Trust.  The Trust was established by the Church in the 1980’s to provide it and its congregations with cost effective investment management of their funds.  The total funds under management currently amount to around £400m and day to day management is delegated to three investment management firms.  Catherine indicated that the Trust has always operated on the basis of avoiding certain categories of investment, their current policy being to exclude any company with a higher than 15% involvement in armaments, alcohol, gambling, tobacco or tar sands.  Certain of these exclusions were not without their questions – for example the Church of Scotland itself is willing to accept heritage lottery funding for projects.  Increasingly the Trust is seeking ways of encouraging ethical behaviour by those they invest in and consider that they have an important role as lobbyists in this direction within the corporate sector.

UKIFC's Omar Shaikh (right) with Saquib Ismail (Al Rayan Bank) and Catherine Alexander (Church of Scotland Investors Trust)

Saquib Ismail, Senior Sales Manager with Al Rayan Bank gave the second presentation.  He opened by giving a brief history of the Bank, which was founded in 2004 (as Islamic Bank of Britain) and opened its first branch in Scotland last year (see Scotsman article).  It currently has around 50,000 customers and has grown rapidly in recent years.  In keeping with Sharia requirements all of its products are asset-based and all returns provided to depositors constitute profit and not interest, although for the most part this distinction is invisible to the Bank’s customers. Interestingly, the list of assets and activities which the Bank excluded is very similar to that mentioned by Catherine, although in the Bank’s case the exclusions are absolute rather than matters of choice and policy.  A recent notable development is that around 80% of the Bank’s deposit customers are now non-Muslims, although Muslims naturally remain a substantial majority of those taking “Islamic mortgages”.

The presenters then took a number of questions from the floor, one point which emerged being that any set of ethical investments principles needs to be kept under regular review, to take account of changing perceptions and understanding.  There was general agreement that most recent research had tended to indicate that returns from ethical investments generally fully matched those of conventional investment strategies.  David Cousland, of Fair Finance Agency, cited the work of Oikocredit in the developing world, including one notable project which had been running across the Muslim and Christian communities in Egypt for around 40 years.

Omar Shaikh (left), Martin Johnstone (centre) and Dr Richard Frazer (right)

The final part of the meeting saw a report on a “global first” for Scotland, namely the ongoing project between the Church of Scotland and the Islamic Finance Council UK to attempt to produce a financial product which would help to tackle financial exclusion, based on the shared values of the two faith communities (see BBC article).  Doctor Richard Frazer and Martin Johnstone, Convener and Secretary of the Church and Society Council, spoke for the Church of Scotland and Omar Shaikh for the UKIFC.   The aim will be to produce in the fairly near future a document setting out the conclusions reached on the applicable shared values, as emerging from the series of inter-faith workshops which had taken place, and there would then be a phase of “R & D” seeking to build out the detail of a financial product.  It was emphasised that the ultimate product would be open to the whole of society, not only those of the faiths involved.  The relevance of Scotland’s long history of ethical finance was noted and Doctor Frazer also made the point that part of the process would involve taking views from the “grass roots” communities which the product would be intended to assist.  In response to a question from the floor Mr Shaikh confirmed that it was the intention of involving other faith groups also in the process as matters moved forward.


UKIFC Promote Public Lecture in Islamic FinTech at UEL

The UKIFC is delighted to be supporting the University of East of England public lecture on Islamic finance which this year will be themed around the Shariah and regulatory aspects of FinTech.

FinTech is disruptive. Existing regulations do not fit well with new products. "Islamic" FinTech adds the requirement of Shariah compliance to the legal complexity of financial innovations. Islamic jurists and Shariah standard setters have not yet systematically dealt with issues such as "cryptocurrencies," risk mitigation in crowdfunding, smart contracts, or the status of decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs). Is there a need for "Shariah sandboxes" to reduce Shariah non-compliance risks for innovators?


Date / Time:

6:30-8:00pm, Wednesday February 22, 2017


University of East London

Main Lecture Theatre, University Square Stratford

No 1, Salway Road, Stratford, London E15 1NF (five minutes walk from Stratford tube station)


Prof. Volker Nienhaus

Dr. Volker Nienhaus was a Professor of Economics at the University of Bochum and President of the University of Marburg. Currently, he is Adjunct Professor at the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF) in Malaysia, consultant to the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) and a member of the International Advisory Panel of the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF).


The Hon. Mr. Justice Cranston

High Court Judge, Queen’s Bench Division


Event is free and on first come, first served basis. For enquiries, please email