Responding to the War in Ukraine: Ethical Finance at a Time of Crisis

Finance sector experts discussed the role of finance in responding to the war in Ukraine in a special joint event hosted with the CFA UK's Scottish Committee, focusing on the need to respond to the energy supply shock, the "economic war" being waged against Russia and the options open to investors.

On Wednesday 16th March, Lord John Alderdice, a key figure in the Northern Ireland Peace Process and Director of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict, Jeremy Lawson of abrdnHelen Thomas of Blonde Money and Graham C. Cook, CFA of the Environment Agency Pension Fund joined our event 'Responding to the War in Ukraine: Ethical Finance at a Time of Crisis'.

Lord John Alderdice opened the event by emphasising the need for finance to play a role in securing a just - and peaceful – world: a sentiment all the more acute in the context of the ongoing war in Ukraine. The shadow of the conflict underpinned Jeremy Lawson, Chief Economist at abrdn’s opening intervention, where he explained that the conflict has highlighted that central banks are behind the policy curve: they have few policy levers left with which to respond to the conflict and the resultant energy supply shock.

Helen Thomas of Blonde Money echoed these sentiments, as she proceeded to unpack the finance (and UK’s) policy response to the conflict in Ukraine. She explained that the last few weeks had, in fact, laid bare two wars that are happening in parallel: a land war, and an economic war that goes beyond mere sanctions. Finance has become another front on a complex war, and no investor can truly be neutral as a result. This was a position that was echoed by Lord Alderdice, who cited the difficulties of aligning private financial flows with broader geopolitics and policy as the conflict in Ukraine unfolds.

The question remains, however: what investors can therefore do in response to the conflict? Whilst there might be pressure to divest, as Graham Cook commented, the market isn't necessarily there. In fact, for many investors, their Russia-based holdings had been relatively low due to existing governance concerns - many of those with robust sustainability and governance policies were simply not deeply invested in Russia, in contrast with some of the kneejerk divestments of recent weeks.

Jeremy Lawson suggested that the conflict is ultimately symbolic of a tendency towards fragmentation that has been in place for a decade, but could end up strengthening the NATO alliance: the decrease in globalisation over the past decade has been underlined by the conflict but its impact is not linear. We could, for example, see climate change policy undermined by return to coal, or see the flexibility of EU ETS promote renewables as source of energy security as the war unfolds.

As Helen Thomas ultimately argued, when thinking about the war in Ukraine we need to be mindful of longer term history when we think about the moral and practical steps the finance sector needs to take during this crisis. Both Helen Thomas and Jeremy Lawson were keen to point to political economy as a fundamental driver of investing, with formal modelling a crucial potential aid to decision-making. There was broad agreement that China is key, not just in terms of the effectiveness of the economic war now being waged against Russia, but on climate action and the shape of any reshuffle of the geopolitical order provoked by this war.

John Alderdice was interviewed about the event on BBC Radio Scotland following the event; you can listen here.

We would strongly encourage you to make to make a donation to the Red Cross Ukraine Appeal.


Job Vacancy: Could You Be Our Next Digital Marketing Manager?

The Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) has become the hub at the centre of the ethical finance movement. We undertake advocacy through curating independent conversations among a broad coalition of financial services stakeholders, as well as research, advisory work and delivering practical projects. We are the partner for action on ethical finance.

From our Edinburgh base, we are a non-profit with a global footprint. We are supported by the Scottish Government and several major financial institutions including Baillie Gifford and NatWest Group. We also work in partnership with global multilateral institutions, such as the United Nations. Our wider organisation includes the Ethical Finance Hub, Islamic Finance Council UK, SDG Tartan and EFx.global.

With ethical finance moving from the niche to the norm, the level of interest in our work has grown considerably. To meet demand, we are now expanding and have an exciting opportunity for an experienced Digital Marketing Manager to join our growing team to lead on the planning and delivery of our marketing, website and social media strategies for 2022 and beyond.

This is a truly unique opportunity to work in partnership with Governments, regulators, financial institutions, and other financial services stakeholders from across the globe.

Do you have the experience, passion, and drive to make a difference within a high-end purpose-led organisation? If so, read on!

Your Profile and Responsibilities

You will report to our Chief Operating Officer and have responsibility for the management and day-to-day running of our websites (WordPress) and social media channels (Twitter, LinkedIn and any others as appropriate). With several websites across our portfolio, you must understand the design and build process and be confident in restructuring existing pages, creating new pages and adding content in a synchronized manner. You will also be expected to develop and manage our social media calendar in collaboration with colleagues and produce engaging, dynamic content (including written copy, infographics and basic video content).

You will also lead on the development and delivery of our marketing and content strategies across our initiatives. You will contribute to our strategic planning to identify and implement digital marketing tactics that support the achievement of our objectives. This will include taking ownership of all analytics and reporting for content marketing efforts and SEO efforts for web and digital content. You will also be confident analysing trends to recommend best practice approaches to ensure continuous improvement.

As well as promoting the GEFI (and associated) brand(s) your digital expertise will play a critical role in maximising external engagement across our 5 principle areas:

  • Strategic Campaigns
  • Research and Advisory
  • Capacity Building
  • Practical Solutions
  • Events.

This year we are piloting a Youth Sustainable Finance Champion programme where you will responsible for managing the first cohort of up to three students. This will involve assisting with on-boarding, providing training and overseeing digital content production (e.g. tweets and blogs).

This is a critical role within the GEFI operation as we seek to raise awareness, educate and inspire practical action to make the financial system work for positive change.

Your Skills and Qualifications

Technical Skills

  • Degree (or qualifications) in marketing, design, business, or related field or equivalent in experience
  • High standard of literacy and numeracy
  • Proficient across the whole Microsoft Office Suite
  • Ability to convey the right tone of voice across relevant target audiences and digital assets
  • Skilled in creating and maintaining engaging and interactive websites
  • Proficient in using WordPress to publish posts, pages, add media, contact forms, set menus, permalinks, familiar with SEO best practice, plugins and themes
  • Track record of using hootsuite to plan, manage and measure follower-growth and development strategies across Twitter and Linkedln
  • Graphic design skills ranging from the design features in Word and PowerPoint to Photoshop (or equivalent), video-editing and design programmes such as Canva and Adobe InDesign
  • Video production and editing skills (specifically using Adobe Premiere Pro or equivalent)
  • Experience in using MailChimp to design and deploy email campaigns
  • Experience in setting up and managing Zoom meetings and webinars

Soft Skills

  • Creative thinker with strong project management, multitasking, and decision-making skills
  • Able to take ownership of day-to-day tasks and prioritise workload
  • Ability to deliver under pressure and work to targets and tight deadlines
  • Ability to quickly develop new technical skills as required
  • Interpersonal skills with an ability to develop, manage and build relationships with colleagues and external partners
  • Attention to detail with the capability to develop / follow processes and procedures, including design languages, to maximise efficiency and output quality
  • Proven ability to liaise, co-ordinate and disseminate quality information
  • Team player with a ‘can-do’ attitude and willingness to self-evaluate performance to continuously improve
  • Enthusiastic and responsible team player with the ability to work with limited supervision
  • Committed to and have the flexibility to work hours as determined by the business

In return, we will offer:

If you have a genuine passion for social purpose then this is your chance to be part of a small, friendly team, working at the epicentre of the sustainable finance movement. As a global-facing organisation with local roots, this is a perfect opportunity for a digital marketing specialist seeking to take their next step in

  • Full Time and will consider flexible working (such as reduced working day or 4-day week)
  • Attractive salary of FTE £30,000 - £35,000 depending on experience
  • Initially home-based with weekly in-person team meet-ups in Edinburgh (requirements will be reviewed considering changing Covid circumstances)
  • 28 days annual holiday (including bank holidays)
  • NEST pension
  • Opportunity to grow and develop your career

How to Apply

Closing date for the applications is: Wednesday 25th March 2022

All individuals are encouraged to apply to this post regardless of race, age, disability, ethnicity, nationality, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, religion or belief, marriage, and civil partnership.

To apply, please send your CV and a covering letter outlining your suitability for the role to chris@globalethicalfinance.org.


Scottish Taskforce for Green and Sustainable Financial Services launches

Global finance leaders, including representatives from the UN and both the UK and Scottish Governments, set out the role Scotland’s financial services can play in the fight against climate change.

On the day UN climate body the IPCC issued its starkest warnings to date, UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance and former Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney; Scottish Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes and HM Treasury Economic Secretary, John Glen came together with David Pitt-Watson and Dame Susan Rice to highlight how Scotland can become a world-leading hub for climate finance through the launch of a new Scottish Taskforce for Green and Sustainable Financial Services, chaired by the Global Ethical Finance Initiative.

Launching on Monday 28th of February, the Taskforce, initiated by Scottish Government with GEFI appointed as Secretariat, presents a unique opportunity for Scotland’s financial services sector to build on the legacy of COP26 by working together to demonstrate global leadership in implementing the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) roadmaps. The taskforce opened with, and was underpinned by, a realisation that participants were facing unique opportunity for Scotland’s financial services sector to build on the legacy of COP26 by working together to demonstrate global leadership in implementing the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) roadmaps.

At the launch event, Taskforce Chair David Pitt-Watson reflected on the progress of responsible investing in the last 20 years, from setting up the UN PRI in a basement to the 4,000 leading financial institutions taking part now. Following him, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy Kate Forbes set out her vision for a sustainable Scottish economy, and explained how the Taskforce can contribute to both this vision and Scotland's Net Zero success more broadly. It will include representatives from across the Scottish financial industry, building a world-leading cluster and deepenening Scotland's existing strength in responsible finance.

UN Envoy for Climate and Finance and former chair of the Bank of England Mark Carney shared a similar sense of optimism. He evoked the spirit of Adam Smith and memories of a Burns’ night supper spent with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeonm at which the pair spoke about how Smith's insights could contribute centuries later, a theme picked up by GEFI's Wealth of Nations in the 21st Century essay series at COP26.

He went on to explain some of the core goals of the Glasgow Finance Alliance for Net Zero, including:

  • Implementing best-practice transition plans and mapping those into mandatory approaches
  • Phasing down stranded assets responsibly
  • Establishing rigorous offset markets, driving investment into the Global South

The process of aligning core financial market benchmarks with the aims of this transition will not be as simple as flicking a green switch, and nor does it mean only investing in already green companies. It requires mobilising new investment into developing countries, and essentiall - yet polluting - industries such as steel or cement. A coordinated approach, which the Taskforce could provide, has the power to help deliver this investment.

Citing the specific example of climate stress testing mechanisms, Mark Carney reminded us that the mechanisms for broad-scale transitions needed to be embedded into corporates. The critical point to remember, he argued, was that the finance sector is in a position coming out of Glasgow where we are broadly orientated to Net Zero and is beginning to develop the tools necessary to achieve this. As UK Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen echoed in his intervention, the challenge still facing regulators and government is how to provide a clear vision to get there.

One solution, argued Dame Susan Rice, lies in the ability of culture to provide both a top down and bottom up approach. The Taskforce presents a unique opportunity for Scottish financial services to work together and create a globally recognised centre for sustainable and green financial services. Culture is conventionally thought of in terms of single organisations - how can one company improve its own culture - but what the Taskforce could achieve is embedding a culture of environmental responsibility across Scotland's financial sector.

Wrapping up the Taskforce launch, David Pitt-Watson quoted Margaret Mead, who said that one should “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”. As the Taskforce launch poignantly highlighted, the small group of citizens determined to deliver the legacy of COP26 is becoming bigger, and the need to change the world ever more acute. The Scottish Taskforce for Green and Sustainable Financial Services represents a critical juncture in making sure that the necessary changes are enacted, and relies on a collective effort to fully shift the societal dial towards Net Zero, and to a sustainable, more prosperous future on earth.

To find out more about the taskforce, and to look at the ways that you can get involved, please visit https://www.globalethicalfinance.org/taskforce/


VACANCY: Could you be a Youth Sustainable Finance Champion?

Are you interested in driving finance for positive change? If the answer is ‘yes’, then we would love to hear from you! 

We are excited to be launching our ‘GEFI Youth Sustainable Finance Champions’ initiative, and warmly invite you to apply. The programme, running between March-December 2022, has been designed to enable Scottish-based students to gain practical experience whilst completing their academic studies. If selected, Sustainable Finance Champions will have the opportunity to learn from experts in the field of ethical finance and help deliver genuine impact within a purpose-driven, globally focused non-profit (and be paid for their time). 

Our plan is to recruit up to 3 Sustainable Finance champions, each being assigned a dedicated sustainable finance theme. We do not expect applicants to have any prior knowledge or expertise as this will be developed over the duration of the programme. Our anticipated themes are as follows:  

  • Financing Nature 
  • Financing Climate and Net Zero
  • The ‘S’ in ESG (social impact) 

We will assign focus areas following consultation with successful candidates. 

What exactly can the programme offer me?

Mentorship
Sustainable Finance Champions will be assigned their own mentor for duration of the programme. They will have regular catch ups throughout the year (in person or virtually) to discuss progress and personal development. Additionally, they will also be given the opportunity to shadow (e.g attend external meetings) GEFI team members throughout the year. 

Learning:
A 2-day long training and induction programme will be offered to all the Sustainable Finance Champions, as well as 2x 90-minute bespoke training sessions designed and delivered by members of the GEFI team. 

Insights:
Sustainable Finance Champions will have access to the full GEFI events programme (which features leading experts from around the world), our Efx.Global platform and (where appropriate) external industry events. 

Renumeration
:
All Sustainable Finance Champions will receive a £1,000 nominal fee for the year

Subject matter expertise:
Sustainable Finance Champions will be focused on a specific theme throughout the year-long programme and, using the knowledge developed, will have their content shared on GEFI’s social media platforms and across our global network. They will also prepare a mini report on their subject matter and deliver an internal training session to colleagues. 

What commitments are required?

We recommend that Sustainable Finance Champions dedicate between 2-4hrs a week/10-15 hrs a month to the Sustainable Finance Champion Programme although they are free to set their own schedule and working patterns to fit around other commitments.

In applying to the programme, Sustainable Finance Champions will agree to produce the following over the course of the programme: 

  • 3 blog posts over the year
  • 3 social media posts a week 
  • Host one event at their university over the course of the year  
  • Author/co-author one ‘mini’ report or ‘mini’ project on focus area

To apply to be an impact champion please send your CV and a 500-word cover letter to ellen@globalethicalfinance.org with the subject line ‘GEFI Sustainable Finance Champion Programme’. 


1.5 degrees is alive, but its pulse is weak: the finance sector must step up to save it

Unsurprisingly, COP26 president Rt. Hon Alok Sharma MP did not have much time for television in 2021. Yet, amidst the lull of the Christmas festivities, he too was able to join the billions of viewers who tuned into Netflix’s record-breaking film Don’t Look Up. Adam McKay’s climate change allegory sees a pair of scientists (Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio) catapulted into an impromptu media tour, as they try to warn the people of Earth that a comet is on course to obliterate the planet in less than six months. 

In his speech at Chatham House reflecting on COP26, Alok Sharma recalled the closing scenes of the film. As walls shake and flames engulf the landscape, DiCaprio’s character Dr. Randall Mindy tells his family who are gathered around him, braced for impact: “The thing of it is we really did have everything, didn’t we, in the end?”, echoing the fact that – as the COP26 President said – limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees is still a possibility, albeit a remote one now. 

The harrowing images of planetary destruction at the end of Don’t Look Up Now remain largely confined to cinematic representations and worst-case climate modelling scenarios, but the sense of urgency felt so acutely by McKay’s central protagonists was clearly visible in Alok Sharma’s speech. At the heart of it was a clear message shared by all of us at GEFI: now is the time to transform the commitments gained at COP26 Glasgow into tangible action and to deliver on the promises set out on the banks of the Clyde just over 12 weeks ago. Doing so, as Rt. Hon Alok Sharma reminded us, is our “last best chance” to mitigate irreversible climate change and avoid what Barbados Prime Minister Mia Motley movingly labelled the “death sentence of 2 degrees” if we fail to keep the 1.5-degree target set by the Paris Agreement alive. 

Although the pleas for action underpinning Don’t Look Up are ultimately thwarted by political inertia, Sharma was key to emphasise both the wins achieved at COP26 and the broader reasons for hope. Central to the success of the Glasgow climate pact, he argued, was a sense of collective self-interest. Alongside this shared sense of global urgency to prevent the worst of irreversible damage to people and planet, Sharma was keen to stress that the commitments of the Climate Pact were also born out of the “economic case for climate adaptation and mitigation” shared by all leaders over the course of negotiations. Investing in warning systems and defences, for instance, could yield over 4 times the amount paid in damages, whilst failure to do so will restrain global economy’s ability to grow (the equivalent cost of wiping out 20% of GDP every year). 

At GEFI, we echo Rt. Hon Sharma’s sentiment that finance (and mobilisation of the finance sector) is key to ensuring that the economic gains of a sustainable transition are not lost or left as merely promising words on paper. Alongside what Rt. Hon Sharma cited as a “need to turn our focus to loss and adaptation finance to develop the dialogue started in Glasgow”, his speech also highlighted a further three steps that the finance sector must deliver on, as global attention turns to COP27 and COP28:

  1. Show we’re on track to deliver £100 bn goal 
  2. Encourage firms to deliver with integrity to unleash public and private finance 
  3. Work hand in hand with COP27 Egypt and COP28 UAE to learn from success of Glasgow whilst also engaging with civil societies and young people 

Over the course of our Path to COP26 campaign, we have echoed Rt. Hon Sharma’s call to bring together stakeholders across finance and beyond to raise ambition and drive climate action. Through our Strategic Campaigns, Research & Advisory, Capacity Building, and Practical Solutions we will continue to inspire change and mobilise the finance sector throughout 2022 to deliver the promises of COP26 Glasgow. 

A failure to do so brings us dangerously close to the dramatic scenes of Don’t Look Up. We will have, to quote Alok Sharma, “mitigated no risks. Seized no opportunities. We will have fractured the trust built between nations, and the 1.5-degree target set out in the terms of the Paris Agreement will slip from our grasp.” 

As Sharma ultimately reminded us, “1.5 is still alive but its pulse weak.” If we do not want to look back on a life of abundance that we allowed to willfully slip through our fingers, then the finance sector must be the ones to step up and deliver on the solutions needed to save it. 

Ellen Davis-Walker
Digital Content Executive


Job Vacancy: Could you be our next Event Manager?

About The Global Ethical Finance Initiative

The Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) has become the hub at the centre of the ethical finance movement. We undertake advocacy through curating independent conversations among a broad coalition of financial services stakeholders, as well as research, advisory work and delivering practical projects. We are the partner for action on ethical finance.

From our Edinburgh base we are a non-profit with a global footprint. We are supported by the Scottish Government and a number of major financial institutions including Baillie Gifford and NatWest Group. We also work in partnership with global multilateral organisations, in particular the United Nations. Our wider organisation includes the Ethical Finance Hub, Islamic Finance Council UK, SDG Tartan and EFx.global.

With ethical finance moving from the niche to the norm the level of interest in our work has grown considerably. To meet demand, we are now expanding our team and have an exciting opportunity for an experienced Event Manager to join our growing team to lead on the planning and delivery of our diverse programme for 2022 and beyond.

This is a truly unique opportunity to work in partnership with Governments, regulators, financial institutions, and other financial services stakeholders from across the globe.

Do you have the experience, passion, and drive to make a difference within a high-end purpose-led organisation? If so, read on!

Your Profile And Responsibilities

You will report to our Chief Operating Officer and have responsibility for the management and delivery of high quality in-person and virtual global events, including those listed below, through their full project lifecycle.

  1. Our flagship annual global Ethical Finance Summit;
  2. Our international award-winning Ethical Finance Round Table series;
  3. Our pioneering Radical Old Idea series; and
  4. Our Islamic Finance and SGDs Summit.

You will contribute to planning our events including input into the agenda, potential speakers, delivery format, and lead on all practical execution matters. Technical content input for planning and curating events will be provided by GEFI technical team members.

With overall responsibility for event, you will manage relationships with external venues and have responsibility for online delivery platforms. You will help to develop the event branding, set up and manage the ticketing process, detail the event on our website and support the identification and acquisition of high-profile international speakers.

A key requirement will be for you to manage speaker on-boarding (i.e updating tracker documents and collating biographies) as well as organising and delivering planning calls, pre-recording sessions, technical checks and live event participation. As part of this you will own and update our speaker briefing documents. We have developed a first-class reputation for speaker management and take great pride in ensuring our speakers get to the right place, at the right time to talk about the right thing!

You will also lead on event marketing and promotion and will be expected to manage mailing lists and keep websites and social media channels updated before, during and after events. To optimise awareness and registrations you will build and maintain relationships with promotional partners. There will also be scope to contribute to event-related media activity.

For live events, as well as assigning internal roles and responsibilities across the team, you will develop and own the real time run of show and, having assessed risk (such as speaker withdrawals, technical failures etc), have contingency plans in place to enable us to overcome issues and deliver high quality events.

Post-event, you will develop and manage all closing procedures including speaker, participants and partner follow-ups, supplier invoicing, event reporting and web updating.

This is a critical role within the GEFI operation as you will act as the central point of coordination between the GEFI team, external suppliers, speakers, delivery, and promotional partners.

Who We Are Looking For?

We are looking for an enthusiastic candidate who has experience in planning and delivering a wide range of in person and virtual events. You will have worked with senior level stakeholders, ideally within a financial services or corporate environment, and have a commitment to driving finance for positive change. You must have first class communication skills, a pedigree for planning and organising, proven delivery skills and an ability to work accurately at pace and independently.

Pre-requisites for the successful candidate will be experience in event delivery and a competence in using MS Office, ticketing platforms (e.g. EventBrite), video teleconferencing platforms (e.g Zoom), web content management systems (e.g. WordPress), e-marketing platforms (e.g. MailChimp) and social media channels (e.g. LinkedIn and Twitter).

Your Skills And Qualifications

  • Degree in marketing, business, or related field or equivalent in experience
  • A high standard of literacy and numeracy
  • A genuine passion and authentic commitment to the social purpose underpinning GEFI
  • Strong project management, multitasking, and decision-making skills
  • Interpersonal skills with an ability to deal sensitively with a wide range of stakeholders at all levels and from across the globe
  • Ability to develop, manage and build relationships with a wide network of organisations
  • Strong attention to detail with the capability to develop / follow processes and procedures to maximise efficiency
  • Proven ability to liaise, co-ordinate and disseminate quality information
  • Ability to deliver under pressure and work to targets and tight deadlines
  • Self-motivated with the ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Ability to work on own initiative and solve problem quickly and efficiently
  • Committed to and have the flexibility to work hours as determined by the business
  • Enthusiastic and responsible team player with the ability to work with limited supervision

In Return, We Will Offer:

  • Full Time and will consider flexible working (such as reduced working day or 4-day week)
  • Attractive salary of FTE £30k - £35k depending on experience
  • Initially home-based with weekly in-person team meet-ups in Edinburgh / Glasgow (requirements will be reviewed considering changing circumstances)
  • 28 days annual holiday (including bank holidays)
  • NEST pension
  • Opportunity to grow and develop your career

How To Apply

Closing date for the applications is: Wednesday 5th January 2022

All individuals are encouraged to apply to this post regardless of race, age, disability, ethnicity, nationality, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, religion or belief, marriage, and civil partnership.

To apply, please send your CV and a covering letter outlining your suitability for the role to chris@globalethicalfinance.org.

For further details of the role, please contact: Chris Tait, Chief Operating Officer, 07931 103573

www.globalethicalfinance.org