Stockholm (NordSIP) – Although the argument for children’s rights is perhaps the most resonant part of sustainable investing, its advocacy is often bundled with, and consequently diluted by, broader human rights concerns. To address this problem, the Global Child Forum (GCF), a Stockholm-based NGO, seeks to stimulate social change and encourage businesses to specifically approach their operations and their communities in a manner that best advances children’s rights.
At the start of the summer, Matthew Goodwin joined GCF as Sustainable Finance Manager to help the NGO coordinate its efforts and share its data and insights with the financial sector. NordSIP reached out to Goodwin to better understand his new responsibilities, experience and motivations.
Embracing the Scandinavian Life-Style
A Londoner, born and bred, Goodwin joins GCF from Lloyds Banking Group, where he worked as a Relationship Director. “I studied Law and French at Université Paul Cézanne, Aix Marseille III and The University of Sheffield and subsequently joined Lloyds Banking Group. I worked for them for eight years across a number of roles. My last role was managing the relationships Lloyds had with the French and Swiss banks,” he tells NordSIP
Following a lifetime in the British capital, the Scandinavian lifestyle appealed to Goodwin. “I moved to Sweden in 2021 with my family because we love the way the Swedes live. We love the great outdoors and Sweden’s modern family, working and sustainability values. Shortly after arriving in Sweden, I started working for Global Child Forum.”
Guiding the Financial Community
“I was attracted to the organisation because children’s rights are intrinsically linked to sustainability and climate change. Our children will live in the world we leave them and will have to resolve many of the problems our generation has caused. If business can become child-friendly as they are becoming climate-friendly, we give young people and our planet the best chance of a future,” Goodwin says.
The Sustainable Finance Manager role was recently created by the GCF to interface with the financial community and influence and leverage it n driving change on these important issues. “I will be responsible for building the relationship we have with the financial services sector and ensuring that our data, tools and insights from our benchmark are integrated into lending and investment decision making processes. The Global Child Forum has eleven years of data on children’s rights within the corporate sector and is therefore hugely relevant. I am excited about sharing this with new and old friends in the financial sector,” he adds.
Unwrapping Children Rights
Although the financial sector recognises children’s rights, Goodwin argues that these tend to be wrapped up as part of human rights. “Children are a unique social group in that they are unable to defend and promote their own rights. Because of this, and the significant psychological and physical changes that children go through, their needs are greater and more complex. The sector needs to embrace the full myriad of children’s rights and adapt their investment and lending processes to embed this in everything they do. We are well placed to support them with our data and expertise,” he explains.
Having worked on sustainability issues within the investment community for several years, Goodwin notes that there is an implicit understanding that asset managers view climate-smart companies positively. “But just as companies need to be climate-friendly, they also need to be child-friendly. Companies that operate from a children’s rights perspective are just better positioned to be successful both in terms of profits and the young people they impact. So, in a few short weeks, I would say that I’ve broadened my definition of sustainability. Investing in children’s rights is the definition of sustainability. And this is the perspective that I look forward to bringing to the investor community,” Goodwin concludes.