With the complexity of today’s financial markets, the connections to human rights are rarely visible until there is a catastrophic failure. The 2008 global financial crisis demonstrated the widespread impacts on human rights that the financial sector can have. Key to this problem is that most companies are not accounting for the full social and environmental ‘costs’ of their operations. As a result, capital is being misallocated. Less responsible companies are able to raise finance at the same rate as more accountable companies, meaning that financial system is not living up to its potential to support inclusive and sustainable development.

IHRB’s research and thought leadership on the financial sector is seeking to contribute to correcting this market failure. We explore the ways that human rights can contribute to the design of a more sustainable financial system.  We work with international organisations and financial institutions to make human rights relevant to key actors in the sector. We emphasise opportunities for investors to integrate human rights considerations into their work. And we highlight the opportunities to leverage financial flows related to climate change and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.