Financing A Sustainable Future- Global Ethical Finance Summit Speakers Revealed

The Earth Day Summit convened by President Biden has put delivering finance front and centre of the world’s efforts to deliver climate change. Countries and companies not only need to make commitments but also must have clear plans in place to deliver them.

A major UK summit on climate finance this summer will bring together global finance leaders, the head of the European Investment Bank, CEOs of major banks and UN chiefs ahead of COP26 The summit builds on ten years of work by the Global Ethical Finance Initiative to reshape the finance sector for a sustainable future.

Ethical Finance 2021, to be convened virtually in Scotland, will include leadership showcases from fourglobal financial centres with more than 3000 delegates from over 100 countries expected to participate in the three-day event. Free registration is now open.

The Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) summit is hosted by NatWest Group, and supported by Chartered Banker and the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment, as well as the Scottish Government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Keynote speakers include:
• Dr Werner Hoyer, president of the European Investment Bank.
• Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator
• Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF’s climate and energy global practice leader, a former Environment Minister of Peru and chair of COP20.
• Hiro Mizuno, UN special envoy on innovative finance and sustainable investments, and former executive management director of the Government Pension Investment Fund of Japan – the largest pool of retirement savings in the world.
• Bill Winters, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank
• Inger Anderson, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme.
• Dora Benedek, deputy division chief, fiscal affairs department of the International Monetary Fund.
• Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, the Frank Ramsey Emeritus Professor of Economics at Cambridge University and author of The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review.
• John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister.

With a global footprint and Scottish roots, GEFI is leading a ‘Path to COP26’ campaign which has united major financial services institutions representing over £2 trillion in assets to help build more resilient economies which support the transition to a greener, net-zero planet.
The finance sector needs to act together to achieve decisive action at COP26, the most important climate summit since Paris, and the campaign will deliver a series of over 30 events and projects leading up to Glasgow.
This includes Ethical Finance 2021, the flagship global summit to be convened in June.

Omar Shaikh, co-founder of the Global Ethical Finance Initiative, said:

“Today’s Earth Day Summit shows that the financial services sector has a fundamental role to play in delivering targets such as the Paris Agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal to fix our planet. However, despite its potential, the current financial system can be a cause, rather than a solution, to some of the pressing challenges our planet and its people currently face.

“Ethical Finance 2021 will show how financial services can support inclusive economic growth without depleting natural resources or leaving anyone behind. We’re very proud to have convened so many leading professionals from across the world, bringing them together virtually in Scotland to address the pressing issue of climate finance and turn talk into action.”


Why Nature Needs To Be On The Finance Agenda This Earth Day

With Earth Day 2021 right around the corner on Thursday 22nd April, we at Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) are taking the opportunity to look ahead to November 2021, when Glasgow will host COP26, the UN climate change summit. This is the most important climate summit since the landmark COP21 summit in Paris in 2015, when heads of state committed to restricting global temperature rise this century to 'well below' 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C, in the Paris Agreement. COP26 is a crucial opportunity for nations to come together to review their commitments and strengthen ambition for the decade ahead.

Scotland is already leading by example with the Climate Change Bill making a commitment to becoming a net-zero society by 2045 – five years before the rest of the UK. The Scottish Government has also responded to the global climate emergency by adopting an ambitious new target to reduce emissions by 75 per cent by 2030. The Scottish National Investment Bank, which will be operational in the second half of 2020, will support the transition to net zero through a range of debt and equity products.

The financial opportunities and risks of transitioning to a low carbon, resilient global economy have catapulted climate change to the top of the agenda for investors, lenders and insurers across the globe. As well as setting ambitious targets to minimise their own greenhouse gas emissions many financial institutions are driving reductions in the climate impact of their financing activity by decarbonising their portfolios and increasing investments in solutions to climate change. With Earth Day coming up, it is timely to reflect on the key role nature plays in regulating climate as well as helping us to adapt to and mitigate against climate change. By conserving nature and restoring ecosystems we reduce climate vulnerability and increase resilience.

The sustainable management and use of nature can help tackle wider socio-environmental challenges such as water security, water pollution, food security, human health and disaster risk management. However, with ecosystems declining in size and condition by 47 per cent globally, and species populations facing extinction, the wake-up call on nature loss arrived at this year’s World Economic Forum where, for the first time, the Global Risks Report ranked biodiversity loss as one of the top-five global risks in terms of likelihood and impact in the next 10 years.

Around $44 trillion of economic value generation – over half the world’s total GDP – depends on nature and its services and sustainable use of our environment in Scotland accounts for 11 per cent of our total economic output – worth £17.2 billion a year – and one in seven full-time jobs. The global coffee market had retail sales of $83 billion in 2017 but 60 per cent of coffee varieties are at risk of extinction from a combination of climate change, disease and deforestation.

Nature and biodiversity loss therefore represent a significant financial risk. Insufficient accounting for the risks posed by nature loss have unintended consequences, such as short or long-term risk mispricing, inadequate capital buffers, and in extreme cases the potential for stranded assets.
In boardrooms nature loss continues to be largely a hidden risk. This needs to change, and quickly.

GEFI is working with the United Nations Development Programme and Scottish Government on a programme of collaboration that aims to raise awareness and position nature at the forefront of the COVID-19 economic recovery and for the long-term well-being of people and the planet. Within the programme, which forms part of our wider Path to COP26 campaign, we are actively looking to develop a financial instrument that accelerates nature-friendly investments at scale as well as draw upon our extensive global network to support other initiatives such as the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Scottish Wildlife Trust’s challenge to unlock £1 billion of new investment for nature conservation in Scotland. We are also looking to explore the feasibility of a global framework for financial institutions measure and disclose nature-based risk.

With Covid-19 exposing the fragility of health security and financial systems there is a pressing need to build social, environmental and economic resilience. At GEFI, as we approach COP26, we are committed to working with our partners ensure nature joins climate at the top of the finance agenda to underpin a green and sustainable recovery, positioning Scotland as a leading global centre for ethical finance this Earth Day and beyond.

*A version of this blog post was published in The Herald on the 8th August 2020; it has been updated for 2021 .

Chris Tait
Executive Manager
Global Ethical Finance Initiative


Ethical Finance Round Table 'Leadership: Embedding Responsibility', 5th May 2021 16.00 (BST)

We are pleased to invite you to our next Ethical Finance Round Table 'Leadership: Embedding Responsibility' which will take place on 5th May 2021 at 16:00 BST.

We will be welcoming three excellent industry- leaders to shed light on this important conversation: Michael Cole-Fontayn, Chairman of CISI, Helen Cook, Chief HR Officer of The  NatWest Group, and Karina Robinson, CEO of Robinson Hambro and Chair of the Lord Mayor’s Appeal Advisory Board.

Leadership is often an overlooked factor in the drive to create socially and environmentally responsible organisations in finance and beyond. While it is easy to make bold statements about social and environmental issues, real change can only be achieved via effective leadership at all levels of an organisation, ensuring that employees are empowered and motivated to enact changes.

We are delighted to be able to shed new light on this vitally important conversation. Discussion points will include:

  • Why should organisations want to embed social and environmental responsibility in their practices?
  • What role do ambitious targets on social and environmental issues play in driving change?
  • What role does organisational culture play in ensuring social and environmental issues are properly accounted for, and how can leaders foster a positive culture?
  • How can leaders communicate effectively with their organisations about changes?
  • How can companies effectively execute policies on diversity and inclusion (e.g. around gender, ethnicity or sexuality) when there is internal pushback on them?
  • What aspects of leadership on social and environmental issues are particular to the finance industry?

This event forms part of our Path to COP26 campaign.

You can register your interest by following the Zoom link below:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/4916184056551/WN_0TKJK91JSS68llR1j8PsPw