As most of you already know, our annual Conference and General Assembly will be held next 30-31 May in Athens, hosted by our member, Bank of Karditsa. It will undoubtedly be an excellent opportunity not only for Federation members to meet, but also to make contact with other relevant European actors that we have been working with in recent years.
The Conference will take place a week after the European elections, and over ten years after the financial crisis. Taking advantage of the electoral campaign, many people have spoken out to remind the different candidates that these ten long years have not brought the much needed reform of many aspects of the financial system that was deemed to be essential. The engagement of financial operators with the financial needs of local communities, limits on the excessive size of some financial groups, greater transparency and accountability or the elimination of tax havens are some of the demands that continue to raise serious doubts concerning the real sustainability of the financial system.
During this same period, ethical and alternative finances have clearly shown our capacity to generate fruitful financial intermediation dynamics which are capable of addressing the needs of the real economy and its most disadvantaged sectors. Recent reports, such as the one presented by Banca Etica on February 6th in the European Parliament, show that ethical and alternative finance can operate with better returns and sustainable growth, dedicating much higher shares of its assets to loans. In short, they show a specific sector within the financial ecosystem that is already recognized as a significant player in Europe for its ability to provide resources, both public and private, for sustainable and inclusive economic development.
As an organisation representative of the ethical and alternative finances community, Febea has carried out work in recent years that has largely been focused on strengthening recognition of our members as entities capable of addressing the needs of key sectors for the development of a social, fair and inclusive Europe. A significant group of practitioners that understand local realities and contribute to their development. Following the approval of the new 2018-2020 Strategic Plan at the 2018 Assembly in Leuven, there seem to be exciting times ahead for Febea. Our ambitious objectives will be aimed at reinforcing our capacity to represent ethical and alternative finances in Europe, strengthen alliances with different social actors, generate processes of exchange and collaboration between members and increase our visibility.
As I said, there are many voices in Europe that insist on the urgent need to link finance with sustainability in a clear and decisive manner. A connection that must necessarily incorporate the economic, social and environmental dimensions with all its consequences, paying special attention to the impact that financial practices have on citizens and communities.
In this context, I am sure that the Conference will be a great opportunity to create a space where we can discuss the challenges that ethical and alternative finance face nowadays in our commitment to promote innovation processes and social entrepreneurship for sustainable community development. We will have the opportunity to analyze the deep meaning of applying the challenges of sustainability to financial activities, as well as to know and analyze different practical experiences that show how it has been possible to maintain strong support for a large number of projects during times of crisis. A collective learning experience that should help us to continue on a path that reinforces the contribution of ethical and alternative finance to the construction of a fairer and more inclusive Europe. And, let us not forget, that is our reason for being.
I look forward to seeing you in Athens.