Umer Suleman of UKIFC appears on BBC Radio 4's Beyond Belief

Umer Suleman of UKIFC appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Beyond Belief, to discuss Islamic finance, ethical finance and the Edinburgh Finance Declaration with presenter Ernie Rea.

“It is estimated that religious institutions own trillions of dollars’ worth of investments but some have acknowledged that their financial choices have not always reflected their principles. Can faith values help people to choose how to invest their money in ways that align with their ethics? Can new technologies like blockchain provide greater transparency and control, and where are the potential pitfalls for people looking to invest their money?

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss ethical investing are Rabbi Mark Goldsmith of the Edgware & Hendon Reform Synagogue and member of the International Interfaith Investment Group; Devie Mohan, an expert in the relationship between finance and technology; Martin Palmer President of Faith Invest and Umer Suleman a member of the UK Islamic Finance Council and a Sharia Finance Consultant.”

Listen now on BBC Sounds.

UKIFC Launches Brochure to Promote Shariah-Compliant FDI in Scotland

The UKIFC, in partnership with BDO, Gatehouse Bank, Ocorian and Shepherd + Weddernburn has launched a brochure to promote Shariah compliant real estate investment opportunities in Scotland.

With the London real estate market cooling Scotland is a strong and attractive investment destination and, with expertise in both conventional and Islamic finance, it offers competitive Shariah-compliant real estate opportunities.

A number of Shariah-compliant deals have been completed in Scotland in recent years. With a growing and stable economy, underpinned by strong yields, returns on Scottish commercial real estate exceeded the UK average in 2018. Investment reached a record level of £2.5 billion in 2018, up 46% from 2017.

With an enabling legal and regulatory framework and a network of specialist advisers and financiers Scotland provides significant potential for investors seeking Shariah-compliant commercial property structures.

Click HERE to view the brochure.

New Islamic finance taskforce to deliver global sustainable growth.

A new international taskforce is to be created with the support of the UK Government to engage the Islamic finance industry with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The high-level Islamic Finance and Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) taskforce will be anchored in London and run by the Glasgow-based Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC). Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen said the new initiative will ‘drive forward innovation around the world’. The UK Government will be the founding country partner when it begins in 2020, with an aim to promote understanding and encourage adoption of the UN SDGs amongst Islamic financial institutions. Gatehouse Bank has confirmed participation and interest has already been expressed from Malaysia and Dubai, as well as other UK organisations.

The UN’s SDGs are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all, addressing issues such as climate change, education and equality. But a recent analysis from UKIFC and Malaysia-based ISRA found a considerable lack of knowledge, misunderstandings and minimal engagement by Islamic financial institutions with the SDGs. Islamic finance is one of the fastest growing sectors in the global financial industry, with assets expected to reach US $3.8 trillion in 2022. Innovative financial structuring in the sector can help create instruments that drive capital towards the SDGs. The UK – and London in particular – has already become a centre for Islamic finance, helping finance developments such as The Shard and the Olympic Village. In 2014, the UK Government cemented the UK’s position as a hub for Islamic finance by becoming the first western country to issue sovereign Sukuk – Islamic bonds. With the City’s strength in conventional financial services, the strong legal framework and progressive outlook it continues to intellectually innovative and assist developments in the global Islamic finance arena.

The UKIFC was established in 2005 as a specialist advisory and developmental body focused on promoting and enhancing the global Islamic and ethical finance industry. It was the first global specialist Islamic finance body to sign up to the UN Principles of Responsible Banking (PRB). With Gatehouse Bank the only fully Shariah-compliant signatory, the UK is leading the way in relation to the Islamic finance sector’s engagement with the global framework that aligns with the SDGs. In 2016, the Church of Scotland and the UKIFC signed a partnership agreement to co-develop an ethical finance solution open to all society, regardless of race, religion or ethnic background and based on the shared values between the faith traditions. The UKIFC supported this month’s Ethical Finance 2019 global summit in Edinburgh, which brought together over 400 senior representatives from more than 200 companies and organisation.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen MP, said:

“The UK is a world leader in Islamic Finance, so I am pleased we’re now a founding country partner and observer member of the new Islamic Finance SDG Taskforce. “This Taskforce will bring together the global Islamic finance community so it can help us meet our international, environmental and sustainability objectives – using UK expertise in sustainable finance to drive forward innovation around the world.”

Richard de Belder, Advisory Board Member of the Islamic Finance Council UK, said:

“Delivering the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals will require private sector involvement. “But business-as-usual in the global financial arena will not deliver the 2030 goals. “A step-change in private investment in SDGs is required, and Islamic finance, as one of the fastest growing sectors in the global financial industry, provides a unique opportunity for innovative solutions. “We need a fairer system of financial management that delivers more than just profit and the inherent principles within Islamic finance are naturally aligned to the sustainability agenda. “This new taskforce will explore ways to bring people and institutions together to help achieve the UN SDGs.”

Charles Haresnape, CEO, Gatehouse Bank, said:

“We welcome the opportunity to support and participate in the Islamic Finance and Sustainable Development Goals Taskforce. “Our Shariah-compliant finance principles mean that our products and services are ethical by design and as a founding signatory of the UN’s Principles for Responsible Banking, Gatehouse Bank has committed to strategically aligning its business with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. “We are confident that the taskforce will play a significant role in identifying innovative solutions for sustainable finance in the future.”



The Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC) is a specialist, not-for-profit, advisory and developmental body focused on promoting and enhancing the global Islamic and ethical finance industry. It has helped six countries develop enabling regulatory frameworks for Islamic finance, enhancing financial inclusion to over 15 million people, established the award-winning Ethical Finance Round Table series running since 2010, launched the world’s first joint venture between Islamic finance and the Church of Scotland, and delivered development sessions to over 500 Islamic scholars across the globe.

The framework of an Islamic financial system is based on elements of Sharia (the law of Islam) which governs Islamic societies. The fundamental concept of Islamic finance is that money has no intrinsic value and should only be used as a measure of worth.

London Islamic Finance Summit 2019 hears a wide range of views from across the globe

The UKIFC and International Shari’ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA) 2019 London Summit, Reimagining Islamic Finance was hosted on 2nd October in association with Clifford Chance.

The event heard a wide range of views from across the globe. Speakers from early pioneers, to current leaders and a groundbreaking all-woman panel shared their views on the role Islamic finance could and should play in relation to delivering social impact.

Our Islamic Finance London Summit has become the premier London conference in Islamic Finance, convening a multi-stakeholder global audience interested in open, frank and challenging discussions on core issues framing the industry’s purpose and informing future direction.

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

Announcement – UK thought body is the first specialist Islamic Finance organization in the world to endorse the new UNEP-led guidelines for responsible banking.

Today Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC) became the first advisory body dedicated to Islamic finance to endorse the United Nations Environment Finance Initiative’s (UNEP FI) Principles for Responsible Banking (UN PRBs), joining 64 other international banks and stakeholders.

The UN PRBs represent an opportunity for the Islamic Banking industry, which is made up of over 1,300 financial institutions and windows, and is growing at 6% annually. It is a USD2.4 trillion contributor to the international banking marketplace forecasted to reach USD3.8 trillion by 2023 (Islamic Finance Development Report 2018).

The Principles are the first global framework to enable banks to integrate sustainability across their operations and enhance their positive impact with in the regions they operate in. Arab African International Bank (AAIB) (Egypt), Commercial International Bank (CIB) (Egypt), CIMB Bank (Malaysia) and Garanti Bank (Turkey), which operate in muslim-majority countries, are amongst the founding signatories.

The PRBs strongly align with the principles of Islamic Finance. Alignment and Impact are embedded in the foundational goals of the Maqasid al Shariah, a framework of purpose in Islamic practice that focuses on the objective of wealth and the preservation and continuity of life. Achieving communal prosperity and financial transparency underpin Shariah compliant finance, based on a law designed to protect all members of a society. Fairness and inclusion are themes of Islamic finance that resonate with the remaining four UN PRBs (Clients, Stakeholders, Governance and Transparency). Adopting the UN PRBs will encourage more innovation in the use of Islamic finance instruments to achieving the SDGs, such as green Sukuks.

Omar Shaikh, Member of the UKIFC’s Advisory Board said: “The UKIFC is the leading organization in Islamic finance actively promoting greater integration with the broader ethical finance marketplace. The underlying principles of Islamic finance align well with people, planet and purpose. The enhanced nature of stakeholder involvement in Islamic finance sits particularly well with the ethos of UNEP FI’s Principles for Responsible Banking 6 principles and for this reason we welcome and endorse them.”

Simone Dettling, head of the Banking team at UNEP FI said: “It is fantastic to see this coalition growing so quickly. The Principles for Responsible Banking are rapidly setting the global standard for what it means to be a responsible bank. We invite banks that haven’t endorsed them yet to join and show their commitment to the sustainable banking system of the future.”

The Principles, developed by 28 of the world’s leading banks, are currently out for global public consultation until May 2019 and will become available for signature in September 2019, during the UN General Assembly. Shariah compliant banks and intermediaries are encouraged to join the coalition by endorsing the Principles.

The UKIFC contributes to research and advisory on the alignment of the UN SDGs with the Maqasid al Shariah in the Islamic Banking industry, shaping the industry’s role in the broader ethical finance industry and promoting shared values across faith-based finance and investment institutions (The Edinburgh Finance Declaration).


For media enquiries, please contact: Chris Tait at 

Notes to editors

Islamic Finance Council UK

The UKIFC is a specialist advisory and development body focused on promoting and enhancing the global Islamic and ethical finance industry. The organisation was launched in 2005 by a group of likeminded professionals who sought to make a contribution to the development of the Islamic finance industry. The UKIFC specialises in four core areas, being: 1) Ethical finance – helping to promote better co-ordination and understanding of the shared values between Islamic finance and the broader ethical finance arena; 2) Advisory – specialist capability in advising government agencies, regulatory bodies and financial institutions on creating enabling frameworks for Islamic finance; 3) Executive training – delivering bespoke capacity building programmes aimed at practitioners and regulators focused on commercial issues; and 4) Thought leadership – authoring reports, community education and providing industry comment towards influencing regulation and encouraging the development of the sector based on strong research and insights.

Principles for Responsible Banking 

The six Principles for Responsible Banking that banks commit to are: 

1)    Alignment: We will align our business strategy to be consistent with and contribute to individuals’ needs and society’s goals, as expressed in the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement and relevant national and regional frameworks. We will focus our efforts where we have the most significant impact.

2)   Impact: We will continuously increase our positive impacts while reducing the negative impacts on, and managing the risks to, people and environment resulting from our activities, products and services.

3)    Clients & Customers: We will work responsibly with our clients and our customers to encourage sustainable practices and enable economic activities that create shared prosperity for current and future generations.

4)  Stakeholders: We will proactively and responsibly consult, engage and partner with relevant stakeholders to achieve society’s goals.

5)   Governance & Target-setting: We will implement our commitment to these Principles through effective governance and a culture of responsible banking, demonstrating ambition and accountability by setting public targets relating to our most significant impacts.

6)Transparency & Accountability: We will periodically review our individual and collective implementation of these Principles and be transparent about and accountable for our positive and negative impacts and our contribution to society’s goals.      

For more information about the Principles visit

Ethical Finance Round Table Explores the Role of Blended Finance for the SDGs

The 17th Edinburgh Ethical Finance Round Table took place at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 24th October 2018 during a week of ethical finance events that were anchored by the 2-day Ethical Finance 2018 conference held at the RBS Conference Centre.

The round table began with Scottish Government host Ivan McKee the Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, welcoming those attending and expressing the Scottish Government's support for the round table series and the Global Ethical Finance Initiative in general.

The topic for the meeting was the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the role of "Blended Finance" in achieving this.  The first speaker was Gail Hurley, a Senior Advisor on Development Finance with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which provides analysis of development needs and funding gaps as well as supplying support to individual countries.

While it is commonly stated that in order to implement the SDGs by the target date of 2030 an annual spend of $2.5 trillion will be required this may in fact be understated.  In any event it is clear that development aid and domestic facilities alone will be far from sufficient to achieve this, so private capital will be essential and hence the development of the concept of "Blended Finance", i.e. mobilising development and philanthropic capital alongside private investment resources.

Currently the principal areas where this is being taken up are among the "middle income" economies, notably in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East, with the principal focus of investment being in infrastructure, renewable energy and agriculture. While Blended Finance is expected to continue to expand it does face significant problems – limited capacity in individual governments, limited take-up within poor countries, the complexity of the financial structures involved and the affordability of alternative and more straightforward sources of funding (notably from China).

Gail concluded her presentation with an example of a recent successful project – the world's first Tobacco Control Bond, helping farmers in Sri Lanka and Zambia to transition to other crops.

The second presentation was given by Maria Teresa Zappia, the Chief Investment Officer of BlueOrchard, a leading global impact investment manager based in Geneva, which had itself been established as a result of a UN initiative.  She explained that while BlueOrchard had initially specialised in microfinance projects this had expanded more recently into Blended Finance vehicles.  Nine funds in all had been established in this area with five in current operation.  In all it was estimated that up to 2017 $100 billion of Blended Finance had been mobilised.  In their experience Blended Finance investment vehicles require to be carefully structured with the "waterfall" of preferences reflecting the needs of different investors and with the public investment always taking the "first risk" slice.  In practice however, structuring the vehicles to meet the exact needs of varying investors presented many challenges.

A wide-ranging discussion then followed, the first question arising being the extent to which capital can be leveraged by these techniques. Gail Hurley indicated that, in broad terms, public funding currently generates a private capital multiple of around 2.5.  In response to a further question, Maria Teresa Zappia advised that while their Blended Finance vehicles were effectively regulated via BlueOrchard's registration in Switzerland and Luxembourg they were not listed or rated.  The difficulty of incorporating assets from the poorest countries in "frontier markets" with very little financial infrastructure were also discussed.

The meeting concluded with a brief outline from Jamison Ervin, also of the UNDP, of the new two year partnership programme between the UNDP, the Ethical Finance Hub, FaithInvest and Heriot-Watt University seeking to develop a pipeline of investable nature-based projects in developing economies, and in particular seeking to find ways of bridging the financial gap between the size of the individual projects involved and the requirements of the professional investment market.  She was heartened by the announcement earlier in the week of the Scottish Government's funding and support for the project.


Event Listings for Edinburgh Ethical Finance Week - 22nd - 25th October 2018

As part of the Global Ethical Finance Initiative international leaders in ethical finance will be convening in Edinburgh at Ethical Finance 2018 taking place on 22nd - 23rd October 2018. The conference will be delivered in partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Scottish Government and RBS.

Ethical Finance 2018 will explore themes including regaining trust in financial institutions, measuring impact, aligning capital to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the $7trn demand for ethical investment products from faith and philanthropy groups.

The conference forms part of a wider ethical finance week that includes a series of events, organised and supported by Baillie Gifford, Church of Scotland, The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), Ethical Finance Hub and the Financial Innovation Lab, that will take place in Edinburgh between the 22nd - 25th October 2018.

Please see below for details:


ETHICAL FINANCE 2018* - 9am - 5pm, 22nd - 23rd October 2018

Hosted by RBS at the Gogarburn Conference Centre, Edinburgh and delivered by UKIFC in partnership with Scottish Government, UNDP and Responsible Investor

*includes an evening reception at Edinburgh Castle (6.30pm - 8.30pm, 22nd October 2018)



Hosted by Church of Scotland at Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh in partnership with UKIFC.

Further information 


UNDP ROUND TABLE: ROLE OF BLENDED FINANCE FOR THE SDGs - 1.45pm - 4pm, 24th October 2018

Hosted by Ben Macpherson MSP at the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh and delivered by UKIFC in  partnership with UNDP and Baillie Gifford.

Further information

Ethical Finance Round Table Overview



Hosted by the Finance Innovation Lab at Foundation Scotland, Edinburgh.

Further information


SUSTAINABLE FINANCE DISCUSSION - 6pm - 8pm, 25th October 2018

Hosted by ICAS at CA House, Edinburgh in partnership with Ethical Finance Hub.

Further Information


Over the past 8 years, along with our partners, the UKIFC has pioneered and developed a number of ethical finance initiatives in Edinburgh. Moving forward, these activities are being consolidated under one neutral umbrella - Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) - which aims to create a compelling proposition that positions Scotland as the "Davos" of ethical finance.

We believe Scotland is well positioned to become a global leader in ethical finance by facilitating dialogue and enabling innovative businesses, initiatives and thinking. To do so we welcome your participation and support so please come along to the Ethical Finance Week events and feel free to share with colleagues and associates.

If you wish to discuss the new Global Ethical Finance Initiative or any of the events in more detail please contact or call Chris Tait on +44(0) 7931 103573.

UKIFC and Church of Scotland to Celebrate the Launch of the Edinburgh Declaration

Faith and finance leaders from across the globe will come together at Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh on 23rd October 2018 to celebrate the launch of the "Edinburgh Declaration", to be officially unveil the Declaration at the Ethical Finance 2018 Castle reception on 22nd October.

Driven by a mutual desire to move towards a fairer, more responsible finance system the initiative aims to bring together the best of our respective faiths to build a shared values framework (Edinburgh Declaration) which can be used to underpin the development of a commercially viable ethical finance solution open to all in society.

In order to identify and articulate the shared values a series of workshops were held bringing together theologians, leading industry practitioners and well-informed faith-thinkers, to explore and debate faith reflections on ethical finance and economics.

The first workshop, held in Edinburgh in May 2016, reflected upon the historical perception and trajectory of an ethical economy in the two faiths. The session explored the theological perspectives and philosophical underpinnings of Christianity and Islam.

The second workshop, hosted by Lord Sheikh in the House of Lords in October 2016, explored the shared values in ethical finance amongst the faith traditions within the context of the present commercial world. As well as perspectives from theologians and religious leaders we also had contributions from leading asset managers, banks and economists who provided insights on different types of economic models where ethical finance can deepen the economy, encourage inclusion and create positive social impact.

A draft Declaration was developed as a direct output of the first two workshops and supplementary conversations with the third workshop providing an opportunity to present, and critically appraise it.

As a final step the draft Declaration was shared with a number of other faith groups with all feedback collated and integrated into the final document.

The Declaration will provide the guiding principles that underpin the formulation of a financial product or service open to all in society regardless of religion or ethnic background. As we prepare to embark upon a research and development phase we ask any individuals and organisations interested in supporting this to please get in touch.

The celebratory dinner will provide an informal opportunity for contributors to reflect upon the journey so far and consider what the future might hold.

For further information please contact

UKIFC launches Ethical Finance 2018 Conference

UKIFC is pleased to announce that we are working in partnership with Responsible Investor, RBS Scottish Government and United Nations Development Programme on Ethical Finance 2018 which will take place in Edinburgh on October 22-23rd 2018.

The conference will bring together an expected 300 delegates from the ethical, faith and mission based investment community as part of the Global Ethical Finance Initiative.

The event will explore how trust in a sustainable economy can be revitalised, and how banks, fund managers, faith and endowment investors are confronting today’s biggest societal and economic challenges, notably as part of the United Nations SDGs.

To find out more and to register please CLICK HERE.