Revealing the levers

Money is like water to a fish for us. As far as we're concerned, it's just always been there. If it weren't for money, we wouldn't have access to entertainment, housing or food. The sooner you learn to manage it, the better, in other words.

However, hardly anyone ever stops to wonder how it's actually created. That also goes for economists. Classical economists tended to view money as a 'veil' draped over the economy, covering the things that actually matter: machinery, factory halls and labour. A veil of no consequence, not worth examining. I used to be one of those economists myself. That was before I witnessed booming Asian economies being crushed by the financial crises in the late 1990s. Crucial sustainable investments were unable to find funding. Then, the global economy almost collapsed due to financial engineering in 2008.

Since those events, many have come to view money as an important 'lever' controlling social developments. Driven by the urgent need for a more sustainable world, Dutch banks, insurers and pension funds are now endorsing the Paris climate goals and the European Central Bank is moving to introduce more sustainable monetary policies.

These efforts will be crucial if we aim to keep our feet dry here in the Netherlands. If we stop behaving like goldfish now, we might not have to live underwater in the future.

Illustratie van Rens van Tilburg

Rens van Tilburg
Sustainable Finance Lab Director, Utrecht University