Blogs

La finanza italiana è sempre più verde (21 April 2017)
Nick Robins and Davide Dal Maso

Nel campo finanziario in Italia sta prendendo piede un nuovo approccio, che mette in connessione la spinta verso la sostenibilità con i bisogni dell'economia reale. Con sempre maggior convinzione, un numero crescente di leader politici e finanziari stanno indicando come la finanza sostenibile stia diventando un elemento essenziale della strategia di rilancio del Paese.

Pronto! Why Italy Is Scaling up Action on Green and Sustainable Finance (5 April 2017)
Nick Robins and Davide Dal Maso

A new approach to finance is taking hold in Italy, one that connects the drive for sustainability with the underlying needs of the real economy. Cautiously at first, but with increasing confidence, a growing number of political and financial leaders are showing how sustainable finance is becoming part of the country’s strategy for economic renewal.

Sustainability Is the Forgotten Half of Globalisation, Says Achim Steiner (2 March 2017)
Robin Hicks

Achim Steiner, one of the longest serving executive directors in the 45-year history of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), fears some rough waters may lie ahead for the planet in view of the latest developments in global politics.

But Steiner, who left UNEP after a decade-long term in February last year, also believes there is reason for optimism.

G20 German Presidency To Focus On Sustainable Development – Analysis (25 February 2017)
Jutta Wolf

‘Shaping an interconnected world’ is the slogan Germany has chosen for its Presidency of the Group of Twenty (G20) summit of heads of state and government on July 7-8 in the port city of Hamburg. It is based on three thematic pillars: building resilience, improving sustainability, and assuming responsibility.

Italian National Dialogue Finds 18 Ways to Promote Sustainable Finance (9 February 2017)
Delia Paul

A national dialogue process on green finance in Italy has yielded a list of 18 possible policy actions for redesigning the country’s financial system to meet sustainability aims. The one-year dialogue engaged Italy’s banking and finance sector to identify barriers to and opportunities for improving the flow of financing to socially-inclusive and ecologically-sound projects.

Greening Digital Finance (7 February 2017)
Simon Zadek

Digital finance has turned out to be an unexpected revolutionary, simply by enabling low-cost financial inclusion. Thanks to new financial technologies (fintech), consumers can shop seamlessly, migrants can send hard-earned money to their families cheaply, small businesses can access credit in minutes through Big Data-driven profiling, and savers can shape their own investment destinies. But if fintech is to reach its potential to advance the global public good, another factor must be accounted for: the environment.

The Future Is Green Finance (2 February 2017)
Jesse Archer

Climate change is mobilising capital for green ventures, renewables and clean technology, but is green finance sustainable?

What Is Green Finance?

Green finance is a term that includes the financing of environmentally friendly investments, as well as practices that embed sustainability more broadly across the industry. 2016 was the hottest on record for the third consecutive year, and the public and private sector are increasingly committed to reducing the greenhouse gases that accelerate climate change.

Greening Fintech (1 February 2017)
Fintech Times

Digital finance is already the lifeblood of our global financial system. Now the race is on for fintech to underpin innovative efforts to address today’s environmental challenges, and in so doing to tap long-term sources of value creation.

At stake are the world’s ecosystems on which we depend, and the need and opportunity to create an inclusive green economy that provides decent jobs for all.

Digital Finance Catalyst for Greener Global Economy (20 January 2017)
Erik Solheim and Eric Jing

Political and business leaders gathered together at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week to discuss the most pressing issues facing our planet and seek constructive and innovative solutions to them.

Digital finance is already the lifeblood of our global financial system. But it also gives us a platform to do so much more. We believe digital finance could also support life-saving efforts to address today's environmental challenges, helping to deliver green investments and encourage environmentally friendly lifestyles.

Executive Perspective: An Unusual Collaboration Launches into the World of Finance (17 January 2017)
Tim Nixon

A unique new initiative, the Green Digital Finance Alliance, is being launched in Davos this month. UNEP is co-leading it, along with the massive Chinese fintech company, ANT Financial Services. We sat down with this interesting blend of collaborators to find out more about a movement that is both disruptive and accelerating.

Why Developing Nations are the Unlikely Leaders of Green Finance (16 January 2017)
Hannah Koh

Developing countries are the unlikely drivers of green finance innovation and they are also leading the way in the use of fintech such as mobile payments. But collaboration is key to making green finance work at scale, said panellists at the Singapore, Green Finance and the Collaborative Challenge event last week.

2017: What Next for Green Finance? (16 January 2017)
Nick Robins

2016 is on course to be not just the hottest on record, but also probably the dirtiest and most hazardous too. “The climate has broken records in 2016“ says World Meteorological Organization chief Petteri Taalas. Smog once again returned to haunt many of the world’s cities notably in China, Europe and India - with the primary cause the same as climate change: the burning of fossil fuels. Worldwide, around 18,000 people now die every day as a result of air pollution. Some 26 million people are also forced into poverty each year by the impact of natural disasters, with climate shocks reversing hard-won development gains.

Greening Digital Finance (10 January 2017)
Simon Zadek

Digital finance is the unexpected revolutionary – but which side will it take? With the help of digital finance, urbane consumers can glide gracefully and seamlessly through their shopping experiences, migrants far from home can move hard-earned money cheaply to their families, small businesses can access credit lines in minutes through big data-driven profiling, and savers can navigate their investment opportunities with pinpoint accuracy. Will digital finance, then, deliver an all-purpose public good, or do we first need to manage possible constraints or even downsides?

Moving the Money in Marrakech (10 November 2016)
Nick Robins

Governments meet in Marrakech this year for the annual climate negotiations with a spring in their step. Last year’s Paris Agreement has come into effect in record time and been reinforced by a domino of measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions from chemicals, aviation and shipping. Yet beneath the smiles, there remains the hard reality that current measures in place are simply inadequate to hold global warming to below 2°C and ideally to just 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. According to UN Environment, today’s commitments will reduce emissions by no more than a third of the levels required by 2030, risking warming of up to 3.4°C.

Fintech Should Be Eco-friendly (14 October 2016)
Erik Solheim

Emerging financial technologies promise to redefine not just everyday banking, but the nature of money itself. They could provide banking services to the two billion adults worldwide who are currently “unbanked” and contribute to the eradication of extreme poverty by 2030. But could they also provide a solution for environmental problems?

Greening the Financial System: From Momentum to Transformation (13 October 2016)
David Strongin

Momentum is building to align the financial system to support sustainable development and economic growth. In the last six months, a range of market and policy actions have been taken that support the growth of green finance such as:

  • The green bond market is booming, fueled by investor demand, new regulations and strategic investment needs, as well as China’s entry into the market.

Remarks by World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim at the WBG-IMF Annual Meetings 2016 Climate Ministerial (8 October 2016)
Jim Yong Kim

Ministers, Governorsthank you all for joining this Climate Ministerial meeting today and for your continuing leadership on climate action.

For those who may be new to these meetings, let me provide some history. They began after the 2007 Bali Climate COP at the suggestion of Indonesia’s then Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati as a way to bring Finance and Planning Ministers into the climate conversation.

Civil Society Groups Welcome UNEP Plans to Measure Green Finance (7 October 2016)
Finance Watch

Civil society leaders in Europe today welcomed news that the United Nations Environment Programme’s Financial Inquiry is leading the development of a framework to measure the alignment of finance sectors with sustainable development, focusing initially on green finance (see UNEP press release).

How Green Tags Could Boost Finance for Energy Efficiency (7 October 2016)
Nick Robins and Peter Sweatman

The global momentum behind green finance is growing by the day. In September, G20 heads of staterecognized the need to 'scale up green financing', setting out a series of steps to improve the ability of the financial system to support the transition. In the marketplace, annual issuance of green bonds has passed $50 billion for the first time.

Mobilising capital for renewable energy is often the starting point for green finance. But the funding required for energy efficiency is larger in scale and further behind in terms of market evolution. Efficiency lies at the heart of national and global strategies to drive down energy costs as well as environmental damage, comprising half of what countries must do to deliver against their collective pledge in the Paris Agreement.

Actions to Green the Financial System Have Doubled, BUT… (3 October 2016)
Timothy Nixon

The United Nations Environment Programme recently announced that “Actions to Green the Financial System Have Doubled – But Further Transformation Still Needed”.  We sat down with one of their senior leaders, Simon Zadek, co-director of the UNEP Inquiry into Design Options for a Sustainable Financial System, to unpack this very loaded headline.

Sustainability: It’s recommended that we “embed sustainability into long-term national plans for financial reform”. What is a concrete best practice of where this is happening? Can it reasonably be scaled to other places in a time frame which is acceptable?

The Paris Agreement Will Soon Enter Into Force: Now We Need To Move The Money (30 September 2016)
Agustín Carstens and Patricia Espinosa

At the recent United Nations General Assembly in New York, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon predicted the Paris climate agreement would enter into force before 2017, announcing 60 countries had now ratified its terms. Next week, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank welcome an influx of finance ministers and central bankers to its annual meetings in Washington DC.

At first glance, these two events might appear totally unrelated. The imminent ratification of the Paris Agreement – a global deal to keep global temperature rise below 2°C – is a huge achievement and a real triumph for multilateralism. It also focuses the mind on the next step: how the agreement will be implemented across the world?

How to Raise Trillions for Green Investments (20 September 2016)
Henry M. Paulson Jr.

SAVING our planet from the worst effects of climate change won’t be cheap. A new report from the United Nations says that the world will need to mobilize $90 trillion in public and private capital over the next 15 years.

As a point of comparison, global gross domestic product in 2015 was $73 trillion. But there is no question that the world needs to ramp up its transition to a low-carbon, environmentally sustainable and resilient economy, and to do so rapidly. The question is, how do we pay for it, given the limited availability of government funding, particularly in developing countries?

The answer: private financing.

What Bankers Can Do To Tackle Climate Change (20 September 2016)
Nick Robins and Simon Zadek

The decision by China and the United States to jointly ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change on the eve of the Chinese-hosted G20 Leaders Summit earlier this month, was simply great news. It is a huge signal from the world’s two largest economies that the low-carbon transition is not just environmentally necessary, but now lies at the heart of their future prosperity.

The news out of China is even bigger than meets the eye.

Africa Must Take Lead in Financing Own Green Investment, Says UN's Carlos Lopes (19 September 2016)
Athan Tashobya

With cities and societies nowadays seeking high quality life tinged with efficient delivery of public services and infrastructure, they also want environmentally and economically efficient mass transit systems.

The World Economic Forum estimates that to meet the needs of a growing world population $6.9 trillion in investment is required.

In addition, to this, $3.2 trillion will be required to green those investments to keep within a maximum 2 degrees Celcius temperature rise.

¿Un sistema financiero que asegure el desarrollo sostenible? (15 September 2016)
Nick Robins, Helena Viñes and Teresa Ribera

Los líderes del G20 reunidos bajo presidencia china en Hangzhou han discutido, entre otras cosas, qué medidas habría que tomar para que el sistema financiero sea capaz de facilitar un desarrollo que sea sostenible.

No se trata de un dato baladí: por un lado, la implicación de este foro es imprescindible para una tarea que requiere coordinar importantísimos cambios que no han hecho sino comenzar; y, por otro, el hecho de que sea China quien haya de dar un nuevo impulso al debate sobre las finanzas verdes de forma permanente puede marcar el inicio de una nueva etapa en el sistema financiero global. 

Green Finance Provides Fast Lane for Cleaner Future (6 September 2016)
Jeffrey Mountevans and Elliott Harris

This has been a year of surprises in the financial world – and one of the most striking has been the shift in the agenda around green finance. Once seen as a niche activity, green finance is now shaping international policy and driving the allocation of billions of dollars in investment.

 

Just this Monday, world leaders at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou recognized the urgent need to scale up green finance by referencing its importance in a G20 summit's concluding communiqué for the very first time. The move underlines that governments alone cannot finance our transition to a low-carbon future or deliver the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

Quiet Financial Revolution Nurtures Green Growth (6 September 2016)
Erik Solheim

The global economy is in transition. Anywhere you look in the world, you can see this. From private companies embracing clean technology and clean energy, to countries putting sustainable growth at the center of national planning, the drive is toward inclusivity and the green - both are urgently needed.

 

Such changes have been heralded both by the Paris Agreement on climate change and the adoption of the United Nation's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development last year. These are superb ambitions and the right direction for our future.

The G20 Embraces Green Finance (5 September 2016)
Ma Jun and Simon Zadek

BEIJING – The G20’s finance ministers and central-bank governors have begun to undertake a stunning shift in mindset. They have become increasingly convinced that “green finance” – financing environmentally sustainable growth – should be at the center of economic-development strategies. Such an idea, until recently confined to a fringe of academics and policymakers, is potentially one of the most important new “truths” of the twenty-first century.

Quelle sera la place financière la plus « verte » ? (2 September 2016)
Nick Robins and Simon Zadek

Ce week-end, les leaders des pays membres du G20 se retrouveront à Hangzhou, en Chine, pour leur sommet annuel. Et pour la première fois, outre la ratification attendue par Pékin et Washington de l’accord de Paris sur le climat, ils devraient s’engager en faveur du développement de la « finance verte ».

C’est bien sûr une bonne nouvelle pour l’environnement. Mais c’est aussi un signal important à l’attention des grandes places financières de la planète, pour lesquelles la finance verte s’affirme comme une nouvelle source d’avantage concurrentiel.

Executive Perspective: G20 Shifts into a Green Gear on Finance (2 September 2016)
Tim Nixon

We sat down with Simon Zadek, lead for the UNEP-hosted Secretariat of the Green Finance Study Group to the G20 meeting in China, and Co-Director of UNEP’s Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System.  Mr. Zadek explains a fundamental change in the G20’s approach to finance, and why it matters for the sustainability of the planet.

G20 Must 'Reset' Global Economy to Fund Low-carbon Development (1 September 2016)
Ma Jun and Simon Zadek

The G20's core objective is to promote strong, sustainable and balanced economic growth, but this requires greening the global economy.

Over the coming 15 years, the world will need to invest around US$ 90 trillion in infrastructure. Much of this investment will need to be "greened" to secure an orderly transition to a sustainable economy. The United Nations Conference for Trade and Development estimates that about US $5 trillion to $7 trillion annually will be needed to finance the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals promoted by the UN in developing countries, which includes infrastructure development, poverty eradication and other key goals core to sustainable development.

Sustainable Development Needs the Financial System (1 September 2016)
Erik Solheim and Achim Steiner

The G20 is the world’s premier platform for international cooperation in economic and financial policy. Its core mission to advance balanced and sustained growth must reflect the ambitions embodied in landmark agreements reached elsewhere in 2015, most significantly, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Recent significant developments in economic policy commitments have aligned them with sustainable development. Green growth strategies have moved from the margin to the centre of many countries’ forward planning. Fossil fuel subsidies are now widely accepted as unhealthy for both the economy and the environment. Clean energy has become a driving force for technology and business innovation. 

Interview with Nick Robins (3 June 2016)
UNRIC

UNRIC caught up with Nick Robins, Co-Director of the UN Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System and asked him some questions at the EU Commission Green Week Conference this week.

How Paris Placed Climate Change at the Heart of the Financial System (11 May 2016)
Nick Robins

Last month, around 170 countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement, raising hopes that the world’s best chance of curbing climate change can be brought into force well ahead of 2020.

Getting countries to agree and sign the deal is one thing but mobilising the trillions of dollars need for the move to a prosperous, low-carbon and resilient economy is quite another. Yet, what was striking about the COP21 negotiations last December was the innovative way in which often tense question of financing this transition was addressed.

22 April 2016, Earth Day – Stop Press – Calls to Reset Financial System in Pursuit of Sustainable Development (22 April 2016)
Simon Zadek

The IMF Spring Meetings last week was a red-letter week in progressing The Financial System We Need. Yes, it was a week when the UNEP Inquiry’s core messages went mainstream in style.

It was the week when Hank Paulson, ex-head of US Treasury with Governor of China’s Central Bank, Zhou Xiaochuan, got together at an event co-hosted by the UNEP Inquiry and the Paulson Institute and declared to an assembly of financial market heavyweights that green finance is critical to our collective futures and core to the development of tomorrow’s financial system.

Greening the Trillions (21 April 2016)
Nick Robins and Simon Zadek

What a difference a year makes. Just twelve months ago, the question of how the world’s US$315 trillion financial system should evolve to respond to the pressing challenge of environmental sustainability was still a minority sport. Last week in Washington, as finance ministers and central bank governors gathered to explore once again how to boost the global economy, a new dimension had entered the equation: green finance.

Zhou Xiaochuan Pushes Green Finance at G20 Meeting (18 April 2016)
CCTV.com

Governor of China's Central Bank Zhou Xiaochuan has stressed that green finance is a key agenda pushed by China this year and that the financial system should play an imperative role in the transition to a green economy.

The Chinese central banker made the statement while attending the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank governors' meeting in Washington. Under the Chinese Presidency, G20 launched the Green Finance Study Group to mobilize private capital for green investments.

How China, as Head of the G20, Is Spearheading a Global Green Finance Push (30 March 2016)
Vibeka Mair

‘Mr. Green Finance’, who could be a character in a reboot of the 1990s Tarantino hit Reservoir Dogs, is the nickname of Dr. Ma Jun, Chief Economist of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the country’s central bank and financial regulator.

Fintech and Sustainable Development (2 March 2016)
Simon Zadek

UNEP’s “The Financial System We Need” marks a significant step forward but is nevertheless wrong or at least inadequate in (at least) one major respect. The financial system is under-going profound change that has not been addressed in UNEP’s work to date. In part these changes result from the policy and regulatory moves following in the wake of the financial crisis. But more important are the disruptions to the financial system underpinned by ‘fintech’.

Gearshift: G20 Commits to Exploring How to Scale Green Finance (28 February 2016)
Simon Zadek

Shanghai, 27th February … the world’s finance ministers and central bank governors are gathered under China’s G20 Presidency, accompanied by the heads of major international organizations responsible for steering the stability and success of the global economy and financial system. Two days of tough talks behind them already focused on slowing growth, weak employment data and the dangers of a re-emergence of turmoil in financial markets.

Year of Green Finance Nurturing Economy (26 February 2016)
Achim Steiner

Finance ministers and central bank governors from G20 countries will meet in Shanghai under the leadership of the Chinese presidency. With so many issues on the table for the G20 to deliberate this year, it is telling that the Chinese presidency has chosen to prioritize green finance. This is a topic that is key to ensuring the global economy's transition toward a more sustainable, inclusive pathway. It is also relevant in securing the underlying resilience and effectiveness of financial markets.

Davos: Shorting the Great Transition? (20 January 2016)
Simon Zadek

As the BRICS tumble and much of the OECD meanders in the economic wilderness, George Soros’s predictions of a global crash should give us cause for concern, given his high-scoring predictive track record. Clearly action is needed as the global economy slows and recent gains in livelihood stability are threatened. But do such crashes actually stop or redirect the underlying direction of travel? Or can those focused on the mega trends ignore such volatility as temporarily unpleasant but irrelevant to the big picture?

Year of Green Finance – 2016 (17 January 2016)
Simon Zadek

It is the Year of Green Finance, as my co-Director Nick Robins points out in a recent Huffington Post piece – The Year of Green Finance – a View from London. Nick was writing on the occasion of a high profile launch of the UNEP Inquiry report, The Financial System We Need, hosted by the Corporation of London, with many CEO’s and ministerial level folks from the UK Government in attendance. London’s financial community has now read and absorbed the memo that the moment has come, and so has launched a green finance initiative to explore the potential for London becoming a global hub for green finance. Hong Kong and Singapore are already part way along this track – wake up New York!

2016, The Year of Green Finance - The View From London (15 January 2016)
Nick Robins

Heading into the New Year, global financial markets are experiencing yet another bout of volatility and turbulence. Many political, economic and environmental uncertainties and threats cloud the year ahead.

One thing is clear, however. From a strategic perspective, 2015 built a new set of policy foundations for the global economy, signaling new directions for the financial system. We now have the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, the so-called SDGs, which, in essence, plot out an annual investment pipeline measured in the trillions to end poverty and also marry increased prosperity with social inclusion and environmental regeneration.

Will Financial Technology Disrupt the Green Economy? (11 January 2016)
UNEP Inquiry

The UNEP Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System highlights a ‘quiet revolution’ of green financial policy making: regulators, policymakers and private standard setters around the world exploring steps to align finance with sustainability. This quiet revolution is becoming louder, and gaining momentum, demonstrated for example by China’s championing of green finance in its G20 chairmanship.

Banks, stock markets and pension funds are learning to understand the language of environmentalists, and vice versa. But these familiar incumbents of the financial system are increasingly being disrupted by new businesses using ubiquitous data, rapid communications and powerful computer algorithms.

Can Stock Markets Drive Sustainability? (7 January 2016)
UNEP Inquiry

Stock markets are a tool for sustainable investment; they bridge the gap between investors needing liquidity in the short-term and ventures with longer term horizons. They enhance the governance of those enterprises by making more information available to investors, both directly through the disclosures required from listed companies, and indirectly through the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ revealed in share prices.

At least that is the theory. 

Welcome to the Year of Green Finance (5 January 2016)
UNEP Inquiry

Following the success of a new global climate agreement at COP21 in Paris, attention is now focusing on practical measures to mobilise the trillions necessary to deliver the transition to a low-carbon, green economy.

This year holds out the promise of being the “year of green finance”. China has established a Green Finance Study Group in the G20 to be co-chaired by the People’s Bank of China and the Bank of England, with UNEP acting as secretariat. Many other countries are driving forward progress at national and global scales.

If you are in London or Washington DC in January we hope you will join us to discuss the findings of the UNEP Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System, and the historic opportunities going forward.

 

The Value of Everything: New Inquiry Working Paper (22 December 2015)
Cary Krosinsky and Maya Forstater

Considering the design of a sustainable financial system means answering questions in the trillions. How much annual investment is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals? How much for the ongoing transition to a low-carbon economy? How much of our assets are at risk because of damage to the environment? How much of fossil fuel-based assets may turn out to have been overvalued? And what volumes of assets are managed by investors that recognize they need to pay attention to these questions?

Tipping Permitted: Green Finance Goes Mainstream (3 December 2015)
Mark Halle

In every country concerned there must have been a moment during the anti-tobacco campaign at which the balance of advantage shifted—subtly, perhaps tentatively, but changing things fundamentally and forever. At that point, the right to live life without being subjected to cigarette smoke became the new norm. Not long after, the notion that it was OK to smoke in trains, in cinemas, and even in pubs, was regarded as a retrograde curiosity.

Policymakers Must Back Sustainable Development (2 December 2015)
Simon Zadek

Funding sustainable development involves big numbers. Financing shortfalls to implement UN-backed Sustainable Development Goals in developing countries amount to US$ 2.5 trillion each year. Most estimates suggest the need for US$ 6 trillion a year in infrastructure investment, much of which needs to be greened. More broadly, there is a need to align the projected US$ 20 to 25 trillion in annual investments globally on sustainable development.

Shifting the Trillions (30 November 2015)
Simon Zadek

Finance for sustainable development involves big numbers. Financing shortfalls in developing countries for advancing the sustainable development goals are US$2.5 trillion annually according to UNCTAD. Most estimates suggest the need for US$6 trillion a year in infrastructure investment, much of which needs to be greened. More broadly, there is a need to align the projected US$20-25 trillion annually in global investment going forward with sustainable development.

Preventable Surprises welcomes the UNEP Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System (16 November 2015)
Raj Thamotheram and Ellen Quigley

The United Nations Environment Programme recently launched a report on its 2-year inquiry into sustainable finance. Its authors and contributors should be commended for the scope and breadth of the project, which included specific recommendations for actors at every node of the global financial system.  Furthermore, as IISD Executive Director Mark Halle pointed out in a recent interview, the Inquiry did a particularly good job of crafting an analysis that benefited from both insider and outsider perspectives, avoiding the pitfalls of both. This is precisely the sort of work we need in order to undertake the task of shifting to a low-carbon economy.

Rethinking Financial Business Model: Interview with Mark Halle, Executive Director, IISD (4 November 2015)

In the run-up to the Novethic annual event on 24 November, Mark Halle, IISD Executive Director and senior advisor to the UNEP Inquiry, talks innovation for the financial market, green finance and how to push financial actors to shift to a green and inclusive economy. 

An Audacious Change Effort (4 November 2015)
Steve Waddell

A very audacious change initiative reached a milestone October 8 by issuing a report: The Financial System We Need. It is the product of the two-year UNEP Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System that was established “…to advance policy options (emphasis added) to improve the financial system’s effectiveness in mobilizing capital for sustainable development.” Its co-directors are Simon Zadek who I’ve worked with and have immense respect for, and Nick Robins whom I haven’t had the opportunity to meet.

Time to Focus on Climate Finance (30 October 2015)
Christiana Figueres

The G20 meeting in Turkey comes just weeks before the world meets in Paris to ink a new universal climate agreement. Crucial to that success and to fostering the current and future ambitions of countries will be finance – and, more specifically, support from developed countries to the aspirations of developing ones.

Investor Insight: UNEP Inquiry "The Financial System We Need" (29 October 2015)
Courtney Chatterson

The UNEP published its Inquiry, The Financial System We Need on October 8th, 2015 at the World Bank/ IMF meeting in Lima. The Inquiry explores, “how changes in financial system design can bring the environment more effectively into financial decision-making.” Along with the report, the UNEP also launched a web portal ‘Inquiry Live’ providing access to 50 research pieces. We were lucky enough to speak with Simon Zadek, Co-director of the Inquiry.

How Can We Create the Financial System the World Needs? (24 October 2015)
Simon Zadek

The Summit on the Global Agenda 2015 takes place at a moment of extremes. Conflicts are raging across the region where the Summit is taking place. Meanwhile, 2015 is in other respects an uplifting year; the international community has launched an ambitious set of Sustainable Development Goals and hopes to strike a global deal on climate change in Paris later in the year.

The Financial System We Need (23 October 2015)
Andrew Steer and Pascal Canfin

Ask a financial regulator or a central bank governor what role they should play on environmental issues, and most will suggest you’re talking to the wrong person.

This is changing, and will change faster after the launch this past week of UNEP’s “Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System.” It’s a very important report, and will hopefully help launch a decade of reform in financial markets.

Time to Reform the Global Casino (20 October 2015)
Hazel Henderson

The year 2015 highlights the global shift from traditional money-based, gross domestic product (GDP)-measured economic growth to the new models of sustainable, inclusive human development embodied in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ratified by its 193 member nations.

Beyond the Countdown: Inquiry Live! (11 October 2015)
Simon Zadek

As you know, the UNEP Inquiry's global report, “The Financial System We Need: Aligning the Financial System with Sustainable Development” is out.

But in addition to the report, we simultaneously launched on 8th October Inquiry Live!, a new web portal dedicated to providing knowledge about progress in advancing a sustainable financial system.

Launch of the Inquiry Global Report in the News (9 October 2015)
UNEP Inquiry

The launch of the Inquiry global report The Financial System We Need is the culmination of the work the Inquiry did during its few months of existence. A selection of news and media articles is here - more to come as word of the "quiet revolution" the Inquiry explains in the report spreads!

LAUNCHED ! Inquiry Report … and an unexected announcement (9 October 2015)
Simon Zadek

So its done – at 15.00 Peru time on 8th October 2015 at the IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings, “The Financial System We Need” was launched on an unsuspecting world. In amidst a cacophony of other events featuring the great and the even greater, the large space was packed out – standing room only. Achim Steiner spoke with passion about what the Inquiry had discovered over its two year journey – the Quiet Revolution – and the potential of this newly mapped space to shift the trillions needed to finance sustainable development.

Shaping a Financial System Fit for the 21st Century (9 October 2015)
Achim Steiner

Fixing the financial system in the wake of its implosion in 2008 required rapid, dramatic, unconventional actions underpinned by unprecedented international coordination. Equally ambitious and decisive action is needed to mobilize trillions of dollars annually to realize the recently launched international Sustainable Development Goals, and to realize the low carbon transformation commitments of almost 150 countries in the run up to the global climate negotiations in December. An international Inquiry, commissioned by the United Nations Environment Program, reported out at the IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings on the 8th October in Lima, Peru, providing the first comprehensive examination of how global finance can be harnessed in support of Sustainable Development.

How Can We Create a Financial System Fit for the Modern World? (8 October 2015)
Simon Zadek

Fixing the financial system in the wake of its implosion in 2008 required rapid, dramatic, unconventional actions underpinned by unprecedented international coordination. At the helm of this massive effort were some of the world`s most conservative institutions, central banks, financial regulators and ministries of finance. Whilst applauding such an exceptional response, John Lipsky, the IMF`s former first deputy managing director has pointed out that the financial market reform agenda is an “unfinished business” even by conventional measures, and that we have hardly begun when one takes into account the changes needed to secure adequate financing to deliver the needed transition to sustainable development.

Placing Sustainability at the Heart of the Financial System (8 October 2015)
Achim Steiner

The full potential of the financial system will need to be harnessed to deliver the new Sustainable Development Goals and the forthcoming climate change agreement in Paris. The scale of financing required for an orderly transition to a prosperous, low-carbon and resilient economy is measured in the trillions not the billions. This means more capital for assets that protect and enhance natural capital and less for assets that deplete critical life support systems, such as biodiversity, soils, water and the global climate. It is not just the quantum of finance that needs to change – but also its quality so that core financial services are attuned to the ways in which sustainability recasts the traditional risk: reward ratio.

‘Fossilist’ Finance Blocks ‘Clean Trillion’ (8 October 2015)
David Pitt-Watson

Experts reckon we need to find about $1tn a year to address environmental sustainability; they call it the “clean trillion”.

A trillion dollars sounds a lot, but not so much in comparison to the $225tn represented in capital markets, which in turn represents the savings of millions of people. Investment institutions looking after those savings should be seeking sustainable investment opportunities, to provide the returns needed to pay for pensions and other contingencies.

Finance Sector Reform is at the Heart of the Sustainability Challenge (8 October 2015)
Mark Halle

The second half of 2015 carries a growing sense of anticipation. In late September, the UN member States adopted a development agenda covering the 15 years to 2030, including 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 associated targets. We now, formally, know where we want to go.

Countdown: Partner-based Knowledge Development (5 October 2015)
Simon Zadek

Repacking my over-used bags – this time for Lima for the launch of the Inquiry`s global report.

The report, entitled The Financial System We Want: Aligning the Financial System with Sustainable Development, is an elegant but hefty 90 pages, excluding a lengthy bibliography that is published separately. Luckily for super-busy folks, there is a stand alone Policy Briefing of just under 10 pages, and to ensure a wider readership, everything is being produced in 7 languages, six being the official UN languages – Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, Russian and Spanish – and Portuguese.

Countdown: 4 Days to Inquiry Live! (3 October 2015)
Simon Zadek

When the hour arrives, we will have a great line up in Lima to ring in the Inquiry's global report, entitled, “The Financial System We Need”. World Bank President, Jim Kim, will open the event, UNEP's boss and Inquiry champion, Achim Steiner, will spend a few minutes highlighting key findings and implications, and then the panel discussion will begin.

Moment in Time (26 September 2015)
Simon Zadek

Two days closer to the launch of the UNEP Inquiry's global report, on the 8th October in Lima, and I want to share some thoughts about why the present moment may be right to progress financial and capital market reform with sustainable development in mind.

Four specific factors make the current moment in time an unusual, if not historic, opportunity where change is possible to better align the financial system with the needs of sustainable development.

Leading Lights in Greening Financial Markets (23 September 2015)
Simon Zadek

Over the last 20 months, the UNEP Inquiry has discovered a host of policy and regulatory innovations seeking to drive sustainable development into the fabric of financial and capital markets – the financial system. But innovations do not rain down from the heavens or arise through heavenly mandate, despite conventional wisdom – they are the quintessential expression of that inexhaustible human resource – inspiration, commitment and creativity.

UNEP Inquiry Launch! (20 September 2015)
Simon Zadek

On 8th October, 14.30 Lima time, the global report of the UNEP Inquiry will be launched at the IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings. Its been a journey, kicked off on the 26th January 2014 at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Twenty months later, we have completed deep dives in upwards of 15 countries, hosted, co-hosted and participated in over 100 events, and have more than 50 working papers in the pipeline (many already published) together with upwards of 45 partners from central banks and regulators to research institutes and think tanks, credit rating agencies and many financial institutions and business associations.

Institutional Investors and a Sustainable Financial System – What Are the Policy Priorities? (14 September 2015)
Rob Lake and Nick Robins

What policy actions would help move institutional investors closer to the goal of a sustainable financial system? That’s the question the UNEP Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System explores in a new report published jointly with CalPERS.

Five Warning Signals for Finance (3 July 2015)
Simon Zadek and Christian Thimann

Finance needs to re-establish its role in serving the needs of an inclusive, sustainable economy. Policy and regulatory interventions following the financial crisis have been beneficial in improving supervisory oversight and reducing dangerous levels of systemic risks within the financial system: the "too-big-to-fail" conundrum.

Seize the Sustainable Future (1 June 2015)
Simon Zadek

BEIJING – For the first time in years, a healthy dose of optimism seems to be in order. The global economy – a few trouble spots aside – is finally moving beyond the financial crisis. 

Unburnable Carbon and the Carbon Bubble (28 May 2015)
Simon Zadek

No more than 1,000 gigatons of carbon can be emitted into the atmosphere for the forseeable future to have a chance of keeping global temperature rises under 2ºC. This carbon budget is not a lot, given that we currently emit almost 40 gigatons per annum globally, and this number is rising.

Global Finance and Global Warming (22 May 2015)
Nick Robins and Naina Lal Kidwai

NEW DELHI/LONDON – Since 2008, when the global financial crisis nearly brought down the world economy, financial reform has been among the top items on policymakers’ agendas. But, as leaders move from fixing the problems of the past to positioning the financial system for the future, they must also grapple with new threats to its stability, particularly those stemming from climate change.

From Bahrain to Addis: Catalyzing Financing and Investment for an Inclusive Green Economy (11 May 2015)
Steven Stone

Zoom to Bahrain, 2015:  Urbane, cosmopolitan, and host to this year's High Level Arab Forum for Sustainable Development, one of the regional pre-cursors to the upcoming global conference on financing for sustainable development later this year in Addis Ababa.

Greening China’s Financial System (11 May 2015)
Simon Zadek and Ma Jun

BEIJING – China’s establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has intensified debate about whether a new generation of development banks, led by emerging countries, is needed to ensure that financing decisions account adequately for principles of environmentally sustainable growth.

Harnessing Disruption for Sustainability (30 January 2015)
Simon Zadek

GENEVA – After decades of reluctance on the part of world leaders, a rapid, smooth, and purposeful transition toward sustainable development seems unlikely.

Why Davos Must Shake off the Shackles of Wealth and Entitlement (21 January 2015)
Jo Confino

In Davos, Switzerland, the elite will not put up with anything other than perfect ski slopes – even if the climate change they are helping to create is stopping nature from doing the task herself. 

Investing in India Requires Sustainable, Reliable Finance (6 January 2015)
Nick Robins

Over the next five years, India faces one of the world’s biggest challenges – ending financial “untouchability” for 100 million families, bringing clean, affordable and reliable supplies of water and energy to all of its 1.3 billion inhabitants, and investing in the enterprises that will provide livelihoods for an extra 10 million jobseekers each year.

A Festive Inquiry @ 320 Days (21 December 2014)
Simon Zadek

As some of us move to year end, and all of us hopefully get a break or at least temporary slow down in the intensive work flow, I wanted to highlight a few of the Inquiry`s outputs that punctuate what for us has been an extraordinary journey to date.

Academic Symposium on Sustainable Financial System (1 December 2014)
Simon Zadek

Today, and over the coming days, the UNEP Inquiry is co-hosting an academic symposium on aspects of a sustainable financial system with the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Canada. There is rightly much value placed by the deep technical expertise working in the field on demonstrable rigor, including the conceptual and theoretical side. Whilst this symposium will not put controversy to rest, it will add further support to our work and others advancing the field of financial sector design and sustainability.

Pre-Condition for Climate Success: Greening the Financial System (17 November 2014)
Simon Zadek

The announcement last week of a deal between China and the US on climate may be a breakthrough development for international climate negotiations in Paris in late 2015. But the fact that China has signaled willingness to set an absolute cap on its carbon emissions may allow President Obama to argue domestically that the international conditions for action have been fulfilled. This in turn may enable him to advance a US target, which could catalyze an ambitious global deal to keep climate change within manageable boundaries.

Selfishness for All? (24 September 2014)
Simon Zadek

AMSTERDAM – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has just hosted a special summit in New York intended to spur action on climate change. Ban’s message was simple: Beyond the long-term shared benefits of such action, countries and businesses would benefit in the short term. In other words, there are no losers in the fight to mitigate climate change and its consequences.
 

UN Climate Summit Must Show Climate Change Action Is in Everyone's Interests (11 September 2014)
Simon Zadek and Nick Robins

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, will host the Climate Summit in New York on 23 September, bringing together more than 100 heads of state, along with chief executives, city mayors, and civil society and labour leaders, to spur renewed efforts on climate change. The summit aims to underscore not just the urgency of low-carbon, resilient development, but also that acting on climate can advance the direct interests of nations, businesses and communities.

Climate of Opportunity (20 August 2014)
Simon Zadek

On September 23, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, will host a leadership event in New York intended to spur action on climate change. The summit's emphasis will be that action is not only necessary for the common good, but a smart decision to advance the self-interests of both nations and business. Making this point will be hundreds of political, business and civil society leaders from around the world, who will renew their commitments to meet the climate challenge with practical actions that will enhance their country's economic prospects, their citizens' quality of live, and businesses' bottom line.

Welcoming a New Generation of Green Financial Policy Innovation (26 June 2014)
Simon Zadek and Nick Robins

Hesitantly at first, but now gathering momentum, governments across the world have started to add a new suite of policy instruments to the sustainable development toolbox. Whether it's green credit guidelines for banks in China, a revitalised definition of prudent investing in South Africa or non-financial disclosure requirements in Europe, the message is clear: reforming the financial system is a necessary part of the transition to a green and inclusive economy.

The Inquiry @ 150 days - An Invitation (24 June 2014)
Simon Zadek and Nick Robins

On 24th June, UNEP's Inquiry released its first publication, “Aligning the Financial System with Sustainable Development”. It sets out an open invitation to those with interests, experience and insights to contribute to developing design options for a sustainable financial system. The occasion for releasing this Invitation was the day-long Finance Symposium held in Nairobi as part of the first, landmark meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly.

Credit, Climate and the Road to a Sustainable Financial System (6 June 2014)
Nick Robins

Credit markets are central to the global financial system. Valued at over $100tn they provide an essential way for governments, corporations and municipalities to raise bonds for public infrastructure and long-term development. Credit markets are also pivotal for the transition to a green economy – and are already being impacted by the disruptive effects of climate change.
 

Kermit's Bankers (29 May 2014)
Andrew Sheng

Sesame Street's Kermit the Frog once lamented that "it's not easy bein' green". Today, this sentiment is surprisingly relevant to the global economy - only it is becoming green that is the problem.

UN Joins Mission to Balance Investment Goals (21 May 2014)
Gregory Meyer

For the investment world, “long term” typically means years. For the environment, it means decades, centuries and beyond. Addressing this mismatch is a fundamental mission for proponents of green investment.

Green or Greenspan (20 May 2014)
Simon Zadek

AMSTERDAM – When forced to explain why so few anticipated the global financial crisis, former US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan blamed “animal spirits,” investors’ herding behavior, unimaginably large tail risks, and black swan events. In other words, he absolved the money managers and financial institutions that had been taking massive risks on the assumption that overvalued assets could be passed on to less-informed market actors, their own shareholders, and, ultimately, taxpayers.

The Inquiry's 100 Day Anniversary (5 May 2014)
Simon Zadek

The 5th May is not only the anniversaries of when Kublai Khan became Emperor of the Mongol Empire in 1260 and when Napoleon died in exile on St Helena in 1821, but is the 100 day milestone of UNEP's Inquiry into design options for a sustainable financial system.

Reasons for Optimism About a Transition to a Greener Economy (23 January 2014)
Simon Zadek

Times are tough, but I predict 2014 is going to be a vintage year for sustainability-focused policymakers.

Global investment in clean energy was down last year at $254bn (£153bn) from a high of $317.9bn of 2011, with Europe leading the downward charge with a year-on-year decline of 41%.

 

Greening China's Financial System (20 January 2014)
Simon Zadek

China and the international community need a financial system that effectively and efficiently supports the timely transition to a sustainable, and so green, economy. Until now, however, not a single nation has taken the step of even exploring what they would mean in practice. In fact not one of the many major reviews of financial markets undertaken since 2008 even mentions climate and the environment as a policy dimension of how the financial system should operate.