PILOT TO INCREASE PRIVATE CAPITAL TO DELIVER UN GOALS

A pilot scheme is being developed to massively increase the flow of private sector capital to achieve the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.

A major new report has concluded that ‘business-as-usual’ in the financial services sector will not deliver the 2030 target to achieve the Global Goals.

With sustainability and impact quickly moving from being specialist subjects to being core drivers of investment strategies worldwide the report calls for a ‘step-change’, identifying a private equity fund-of-fund solution that provides the required scale to attract new capital from institutional investors. The new independent managed platform, a global impact fund-of-funds, will fill the gap between specialist impact fund managers and mainstream investors.

The proposal is designed to attract global institutional investors who otherwise would not deploy tens of millions of dollars in this space, ensuring they receive a financial return at the same time as delivering an authenticated positive social and environmental impact.

Detailed due diligence for a pilot scheme will now take place following a virtual workshop held this week organised by the Global Ethical Finance Initiative and UNDP and involving fund managers, asset owners and specialist impact investors.

The pilot is due to be launched at the COP26 climate summit, currently scheduled to be held in Glasgow in November.

The project comes after a two-year collaboration between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Scottish Government, with work led by the Edinburgh-based Global Ethical Finance Initiative and analysis in the report conducted by merchant banking group R.J. Fleming & Co.

A copy of the report, ‘Mobilising Private Sector Capital in Support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals’, can be read here.

 

Omar ShaikhOmar Shaikh, managing director of the Global Ethical Finance Initiative, said:

“Having consulted almost 100 representatives from a cross-section of investment professionals and asset owners, representing total assets under management of over US$21.5 trillion, we have undertaken one of the most comprehensive contemporary reviews of the appetite amongst the global investor community for supporting the SDGs and ESG aligned investing.”

“By developing a deep understanding of the challenges investors face in this space we have identified a long-term, private markets solution that we believe will remain attractive despite the economic downturn. Current market conditions present significant opportunities as cash is at a premium, especially for small to medium-sized businesses.”

 

Jamison Ervin, Manager from United Nations Development Programme, said:

“There is an asymmetry between the availability of supply of private sector finance and the supply of investment-ready projects.”

“Our goal in this partnership is therefore to explore and test new ways of channelling finance to focus on inclusive, nature-based, SDG-aligned enterprises.”

“We are excited to support the development of a new, innovative finance instrument that will help accelerate the deployment of private sector financing where it is most needed.”

 

James Dauman, Managing Director from R.J. Fleming & Co. said:

“In these uncertain and troubled times, the need to support the SDGs has perhaps never been greater. We are remain fully focused on delivering capital towards making a meaningful positive impact whilst at the same time generating market-rate investment returns.”


Grow The Pie Book

Alex Edmans: For everyone to receive a bigger slice, capitalism has to grow the pie

As published in Scotland on Sunday on 15th March 2020 as a preview to Prof. Alex Edmans presentation at GEFI’s inaugural Radical Old Idea event in Edinburgh. Please click here to read the original article and click here for details of the event. 

The consensus among politicians, citizens, and even executives themselves, is that capitalism serves only to enrich the elites while ignoring ordinary people. Companies are making outsized profits and CEOs are raking in exorbitant salaries, while paying scant attention to – and even exacerbating – the world’s major social problems in 2020. Climate change, income inequality, population growth, resource usage, automation – the list is endless.

So it’s urgent that companies take action. If they don’t, not only may customers and workers walk away, but also politicians may pass regulations that overturn capitalism as we know it – as Bernie Sanders is currently proposing, and winning support for.

But many popular proposals to reform business may not actually be in the best interest of society. Many are based on the pie-splitting mentality. They assume that the value that a company creates is a fixed pie. Then, the only way to increase the slice enjoyed by society is to reduce the slice that goes to business – slash CEO pay, restrict dividends, and donate profits to Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.

But viewing the relationship between business and society as a fight between “them” and “us” is deeply flawed. Profits don’t just go to nameless, faceless capitalists but pension funds investing on behalf of citizens – not “them”, but “us”. So while it’s critical for companies to take seriously their responsibility to society, they also have a responsibility to deliver profits.

That’s the power of a different approach to business – the pie-growing mentality, which stresses that the pie is not fixed. The implications are profound. For CEOs, the best way to increase profits is not to take from society (cutting wages or price-gouging customers) but to create value for society – higher profits then arise as a by-product. For citizens, high profits need not result from value extraction, but successfully serving a social need. A company may improve working conditions out of genuine concern for its employees, yet these employees become more motivated and productive. A company may develop a new drug to solve a public health crisis, without considering whether those affected are able to pay for it, yet end up successfully commercialising it.

Importantly, the idea that both business and society can simultaneously benefit is not wishful thinking, but backed up by rigorous evidence. On 24 March, I will present this evidence – and the new approach to business underpinned by the pie-growing mentality – at the Global Ethical Finance Initiative’s (GEFI) inaugural Radical Old Idea event in Edinburgh.

The Radical Old Idea is a discussion platform inspired by the historic Scottish Enlightenment. By bringing together business and financial services representatives, it explores innovative ideas that deliver positive economic outcomes for the benefit of society. Indeed, solving the world’s major social problems of 2020 involves working with capitalism, not against it. Successful businesses design products that transform customers’ lives for the better, provide employees with a healthy and enriching workplace and preserve the environment for future generations.

But an idea can’t just remain an idea – it must be put into practice. I will present a framework for implementing responsible business, and tackling the difficult trade-offs that often hold companies back.

Leaders of today’s companies are in a privileged position, as their global scale gives them more power to create social value than ever before. But they’re also in a challenging position, because the world’s social problems are more serious than ever before.

Yet the idea of serving both business and society is not a too-good-to-be-true pipe dream, but realistic and achievable. We have the evidence to back us, the examples to inspire us, and the tools to put it into practice. Let’s make this vision a reality.

Alex Edmans is Professor of Finance at London Business School and author of the book Grow The Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit.


Path to COP26: Chartered Banker Institute launch Green Finance Essay Competition

The Chartered Banker Institute (CBI) has launched a Green Finance Essay Competition. The professional association, one of the partners of the Global Ethical Finance Initiative’s (GEFI) Path to COP26 campaign, has called for applicants to answer the question of “How can finance professionals actively encourage changes in consumer behaviour to achieve society’s goals on climate change?”, making reference to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.

The winner will receive £100 of ethical gift vouchers and have their essay published in the “Pathway to COP26 – the Role of Green Finance” essay series from the CBI and the Social Market Foundation (SMF), as well as receiving the opportunity to present their paper at GEFI’s prestigious Ethical Finance 2020 summit.

“Safe stewardship (of customers’ money) has been a fundamental principle of the Chartered Banker Institute since it was established in 1875.  Today, we consider stewardship in its broadest sense – beyond finance to encompass the safe stewardship of our environment and resources.

The transition to a sustainable low-carbon economy is possibly the greatest global challenge for this and future generations, with green finance and green finance professionals playing critical roles.”

Chartered Banker Institute

The competition is open to people of any age in the UK or internationally, and entrants do not need to be members of the CBI. Answers to the question should be no more than 1,500 words and will be judged by a panel including the CEO of the CBI, Simon Thompson. Essays should be submitted, along with a short biography about your career and interest in Green Finance, by Friday 31st July 2020 to the Chartered Banker Institute at this link.


Round Table: Path to COP26 - Financing a Green Future

The Ethical Finance Round Table ‘Path to COP26 – Financing a Green Future’ was held on Feb 27th at Baillie Gifford in Edinburgh. Following a short welcome, Omar Shaikh, GEFI Managing Director outlined GEFI’s plans for 2020:

This was followed by short presentations from Jonathan Taylor, former Vice President of the European Investment Bank for Environment and Climate Action, and Gary Lapthorn, Head of Sustainability & Responsible Business, Commercial Banking at Lloyds Banking Group.

Jonathan Taylor outlined the history of climate change action, through initial scientific warnings, to the establishment of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, and the first landmark international treaty agreed at COP3 in Kyoto (1997). Experts from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) then warned that, despite the Kyoto Protocol, global warming was still set to worsen, leading to the all countries agreeing at COP21 in Paris (2015) to a global framework designed to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.

Coming 5 years after COP21 and the Paris Agreement, COP26 in Glasgow event offers an opportunity to take stock of progress since Paris and update the Agreement where necessary. In particular, countries will present their plans and progress beyond current declared intentions, which IPCC calculate will lead to 2.6°C – 3.2°C temperature rises.

More attention than ever is focused on the role financial services can play in the fight against climate change, acting as an enabler and transition mechanism for policy, risk management and liquidity. There has been optimism around the UK’s leadership on climate-related regulation in finance, particularly through the Bank of England’s Taskforce on Climate-related Finance Disclosures (TCFD). Ensuring Glasgow is a success will require the right template to be in place for all parties to work and agree upon, and this can only happen with significant bilateral diplomatic efforts. The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate calculates that, while a lack of progress poses huge risks to the world economy, bold climate action could deliver at least $26 trillion in economic benefits through 2030.

Gary Lapthorn next outlined Lloyds Banking Group’s commitment to supporting the UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy through leadership in financing sustainability in businesses, homes, vehicle fleets, pensions, insurance and green bonds. One issue found at Lloyds was lack of knowledge and education. Many experienced financial professionals are keen to act and support the transition, but lack confidence in their ability to lead on environmental issues. To address this, Lloyds partnered with the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership to provide training.

Lloyds is making concrete commitments in terms of both its own operating emissions and those associated with its loan book. It has pledged to halve emissions associated with its loan book by 2030 and to cut operating emissions by 60% over the same timeframe and is currently ahead of schedule. It has also pledged to move to its energy consumption to being 100% derived from renewables and its vehicle fleet to 100% electric. In addition, Lloyds provides financing for a number of environmentally beneficial projects, such as £273m of direct funding for the worlds biggest offshore windfarm, Hornsea Project One.

The presentations from the two speakers were followed by a lively audience discussion, in which participants and speakers explored the practicalities of combatting emissions through finance. The discussion centred on:

  • The extent to which financial institutions are making explicit trade-offs between profit and purpose – Lloyds are willing to accept slightly lower returns when companies agree to do the right thing
  • Whether looser capital requirements can be used to encourage climate-related lending
  • The role of innovation, and specifically financial innovation, in addressing environmental challenges
  • Executive renumeration, and the extent to which commitments are enshrined in incentives for decision-makers
  • Whether moves towards sustainability are making financial services an attractive career for graduates again, moving on from the “lost decade” experienced after the global financial crisis


COP26 – FINANCE SECTOR MEETS IN SCOTLAND TO BUILD GREENER ECONOMY

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE GLOBAL ETHICAL FINANCE INITIATIVE

EMBARGO: IMMEDIATE

COP26 – FINANCE SECTOR MEETS IN SCOTLAND TO BUILD GREENER ECONOMY

Leading financial institutions will come together in Edinburgh today (THU) for the start of a ‘Path to COP26’ campaign to build a greener global economy. A round table event will explore the role of the finance sector in the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy in the run-up to the global climate change summit in Glasgow in November.

To start the process of accelerating the combined efforts of the industry, the event will be addressed by Jonathan Taylor, former Vice President (Environment and Climate Action) at the European Investment Bank, and Gary Lapthorn, the head of sustainability and responsible business at Lloyds Banking Group Commercial Banking.The round table has been organised by the Edinburgh-based Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI), which oversees, organises and coordinates a series of programmes to promote finance for positive change.

As part of the ‘Path to COP26’ campaign, GEFI will also host a series of events in the UK and beyond, ahead of the November summit. The campaign is designed to encourage banks, asset management firms and other financial companies to demonstrate their commitment to the climate agenda. According to the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative, the climate transition will require additional investment of at least $60 trillion from now until 2050 – meaning private sector commitments are vital to tackling the climate crisis.
Bold climate action could deliver at least US$26 trillion in economic benefits through to 2030, compared with business-as-usual, a recent report from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate found.

Gail Hurley, senior consultant to the Global Ethical Finance Initiative and former senior advisor to the UN, said:
“The eyes of the world will be focused on Scotland when senior politicians from across the globe convene at COP26 in Glasgow in November to negotiate the global response to tackling climate change.
“Climate change is a large, systemic financial risk that will change asset values as investment moves away from high carbon assets towards a low carbon economy.
“For financial institutions to become enablers and catalysts they must therefore understand the commercial risks and opportunities and know how to act on them.
“Finance can be a positive force for change, and we call upon organisations from across the globe to sign up to our Path to COP26 declaration to help us assist the financial sector to commit to practical efforts to tackle climate change.”

Jonathan Taylor, former Vice President (Environment and Climate Action) at the European Investment Bank, said:
“COP26 in Scotland will be a key milestone on the road to a successful conclusion to the fight against climate change.
“Expectations are high that countries should commit themselves to demanding targets to meet the agreed goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
“So we should all think about what we can do to help ensure success, including financial institutions.
“The GEFI round table’s ‘Path to COP 26’ initiative makes an excellent contribution, and I am delighted to be part of it.”

 

Gary Lapthorn, head of sustainability and responsible business at Lloyds Banking Group, Commercial Banking, said:
“Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking is delighted to support the GEFI round table exploring the role financial institutions are playing in the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy.
“As part of the UK’s leading financial services group, Lloyds Banking Group, we can make a real difference to tackling climate change by helping to finance a greener future together.
“This will require new ways of living, working and investing for our business and our customers.
“That’s why we’re setting ourselves an ambitious goal to accelerate working with customers, government and the market to help reduce the carbon emissions we finance by more than 50 per cent by 2030, equivalent to removing the emissions produced by almost a quarter of UK homes.”

 

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

More information is available at www.pathtocop26.com

Broadcast interview opportunities with GEFI are available.

A photo of Gail Hurley is available for download here.

A photo of Jonathan Taylor is avilable for download here.

What is the Global Ethical Finance Initiative?
The Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) oversees, organises and coordinates a series of programmes to promote finance for positive change. It brings together the world’s business, political, and social leaders to build a fairer finance system for people and the planet. The organisation is based in Edinburgh, and hosts the global ethical finance summit. More information is available at www.globalethicalfinance.org/ethical-finance-2020/

What is ethical finance?
A fairer system of financial management that combines profit with better outcomes for people and the planet. The full working definition of ethical finance: A system of financial management or investment that seeks qualitative outcomes other purely the management of returns. Outcomes sought may reflect ideas from faith, environmental and governance theories.

Why does ethical finance matter?
Although ethical finance is not a new concept the financial crisis has led to a growing interest in sustainability, climate change and social justice. This has seen a collective desire to create a fairer, more inclusive and responsible global financial system. Trust in banks is diminishing and today’s generation of consumers believes that investment decisions should reflect the issues they care about. Ethical finance in the UK is valued at around £40billion, creating thousands of sustainable job opportunities. Today, with the world facing a climate emergency there is a pressing need to develop environmentally sustainable financial solutions.


Launch of 'Path to COP26' to address climate emergency

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE GLOBAL ETHICAL FINANCE INITIATIVE

EMBARGO: IMMEDIATE

LAUNCH OF ‘PATH TO COP26’ TO ADDRESS CLIMATE EMERGENCY

An Integrated Campaign in the run-up to the UN summit in Glasgow has been launched to bring the world’s finance sector together to address the climate emergency. The Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) will host a series of events in London, the USA, Gulf States and Asia ahead of the pivotal COP26 summit in November. The ‘Path to COP26’ initiative is designed to encourage banks, asset management firms and other financial companies to demonstrate their commitment to the climate agenda. That includes ethical investment decisions which help the environment, financing the clean energy sector, and offering ‘green’ options to clients for assets and pensions.

As well as the flagship Ethical Finance 2020 global summit in Edinburgh in October, a number of events on climate finance will also be held in Glasgow in November alongside COP26.
GEFI has already attracted six major partners – the Scottish Government; the United Nations Development Programme; Baillie Gifford; Royal Bank of Scotland; Chartered Banker Institute; and Shepherd + Wedderburn – and is inviting all organisations with an interest to take part. COP26 will be the largest gathering of world leaders in the UK since the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics, and the Prime Minister this week focused on the event at the first Cabinet meeting of the year.
It is widely seen as the most important gathering on climate change since the Paris Agreement of 2015.

Omar Shaikh, managing director of the Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI), said:Omar Shaikh
“COP26 in Glasgow presents an unprecedented opportunity for the finance sector to come together to address the global climate emergency. “The launch of the Path to COP26 initiative will see events held across the world in the run-up to Glasgow, focused on developing commitments to the climate agenda and how to deliver impact. We already have six major partners and would encourage more to join the programme. “All financial institutions need to enhance transparency and choice by highlighting the impact of what they are financing and offering ethical options to their clients. “There are great opportunities for asset owners to invest in the clean energy sector, and public bodies and individuals are demanding greener pensions.
“We cannot miss this opportunity to deliver for future generations.”

Gail HurleyGail Hurley, senior consultant to the Global Ethical Finance Initiative and former senior advisor to the UN, said:
“All eyes are focused on the UK as this year’s host of what is arguably the world’s most important international conference. “Near the top of the agenda is how to mobilise the trillions needed for international climate financing programmes. “Within the financial services sector, interest has increased significantly over recent years in the ways it can – and should – look beyond short-term profit and shareholder value towards how it can drive positive social, economic and environmental impact. “Finance can be a positive force for change. The Path to COP26 initiative will accelerate the transformation towards a more socially responsible and inclusive financial system which serves both people and planet.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

More information is available at www.pathtocop26.com

More information on the Ethical Finance 2020 global summit is available here: www.ethicalfinance2020.com

Broadcast interview opportunities are available.

A photo of Omar Shaikh is available for download here. A photo of Gail Hurley is available for download here.

What is the Global Ethical Finance Initiative?
The Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) oversees, organises and coordinates a series of programmes to promote finance for positive change. It brings together the world’s business, political, and social leaders to build a fairer finance system for people and the planet. The organisation is based in Edinburgh.

What is ethical finance?
A fairer system of financial management that combines profit with better outcomes for people and the planet. The full working definition of ethical finance: A system of financial management or investment that seeks qualitative outcomes other purely the management of returns. Outcomes sought may reflect ideas from faith, environmental and governance theories.

Why does ethical finance matter?
Although ethical finance is not a new concept the financial crisis has led to a growing interest in sustainability, climate change and social justice. This has seen a collective desire to create a fairer, more inclusive and responsible global financial system. Trust in banks is diminishing and today’s generation of consumers believes that investment decisions should reflect the issues they care about. Ethical finance in the UK is valued at around £40billion, creating thousands of sustainable job opportunities. Today, with the world facing a climate emergency there is a pressing need to develop environmentally sustainable financial solutions.


Round Table: Ethical Finance Market Update - Keynote Interviews

Baillie Gifford – EFH Roundtable

16 December 2019, 16:00 – 18:00

Ethical Finance Market Update, Market Trends

Interviewer: Gail Hurley

Panel Participants: Andrew Cave, Thom Kenrick

Summary:

In a change to the usual format this session, once again hosted by Baillie Gifford, comprised of two keynote interviews which provided reflections (from the investment and banking sector) on the evolution of the ethical finance market and how the market will adapt to on-going political, economic, social and environmental uncertainty.

The interviews were conducted by GEFI Senior Consultant Gail Hurley who has recently completed 10 years with the UN in New York as a Senior Advisor.

Gail framed the session within the context of growing interest in driving a fairer, more sustainable financial system and the fact that 2020 will be a significant year for climate issues in Scotland as it welcomes the world to Glasgow for COP26, the UN climate conference.

Andrew Cave, Head of Governance and Sustainability at Baillie Gifford, was first up and he argued that ethical investing has moved from niche to mainstream. While in the past companies would not put their best people and resources into it, today the situation is changing. According to Andrew the overall direction is positive and there is a lot of interest from institutional investors. Continuing challenges include: the complications in defining a positive impact (as the market is still in its early days) and the intractable debate over what constitutes positive social impact.

Andrew offered some fairly candid views on confusion around terminology highlighting the fundamental difference between ESG, which factors issues such as climate risk, data privacy issues and regulation into existing investment paradigms, and responsible investing, which is more directive and it aims to reach a particular outcome. It was suggested that clear rules need to be designed to avoid a risk of diverting money away from those who can make a positive contribution. Another challenge mentioned by Andrew was the lack of quality data on complex value chains. A full view of impact requires improvements in disclosure and standardisation of data, which enables more sophisticated discussions about potential transformations in transportation and production systems.

Thom Kenrick, from the RBS Sustainable Banking team, was next in line to be interviewed by Gail. Unsurprisingly, Thom began by highlighting the major changes that have taken place in the banking sector in recent years and how this has driven RBS’s journey of reform and restructure. The financial crisis fundamentally changed regulation as banks were placed under greater scrutiny by both regulators and wider stakeholders. Thom described the growing interest in ethical finance from RBS customers but pointed out that many still struggle with the lack of consistency in terminology and approaches. In relation to social finance Thom suggested that this means financial inclusion to one, diversity to another and divesting from a power station to someone else. Unlike environmental impact, there is not a right or wrong answer as so many different aspects of social life have no scientific base.

Thom felt that while international standards may help in providing consistency, he pointed out that while PRI (2005) and TCFD (2015) have been around for a number of years few signatories are genuinely delivering to the required standard. That said, according to Thom, the situation is changing as customers, investors and the public are increasingly scrutinising firms so whilst such standards are voluntary, the consequences of not following them risks deterring prospective / existing customers and investors.

Despite the challenges outlined throughout the session the discussion ended on a positive note. Younger generations are more conscious, and their demand is expected to drive ethical finance in the long term. Change takes time and previous developments in ethical finance, whether successful or not, will have played a part in shifting mind-sets and practices. Although nothing is yet set in stone leading market players, such as big Baillie Gifford and RBS, have established dedicated teams, products and services to raise awareness and drive finance for positive change.


COP26 – Role of Finance in Tackling the Climate Crisis

COP26 – Role of Finance in Tackling the Climate Crisis

This year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid has wrapped up, and all eyes will now focus on Scotland as next year’s host of what is arguably the world’s most important international conference. Also known (somewhat confusingly) as COP 26, Glasgow will be centre stage between 9 and 20 November 2020 as it welcomes an estimated 30,000 delegates from around the world.

Next year’s climate change conference will be particularly important since it will mark five years since the historic Paris Climate Agreement, which committed countries to strengthening actions to combat climate change and limit the global temperature rise this century to below 2 degrees Celsius. We know however that the world is not on-track to cut carbon emissions which must be halved on today’s levels to restrain temperature increases to just 1.5 degrees Celsius, the upper limit advised by climate scientists. Progress will need to be ratcheted up by next year.

Over 500,000 people marched through the centre of Madrid this month, joined by young climate activist Greta Thunberg, to demand quicker action to tackle climate change, yet many have been left frustrated by the lack of urgency that has characterised this year’s climate conference. Madrid has been dominated by disagreements over carbon emissions trading (where more polluting countries can purchase the right to pollute from countries that have not yet reached their emission limits – seen by many as deeply unfair and a false solution to the climate crisis) and an international push to have rich countries pay poorer countries for “loss and damage” associated with irreversible climate change impacts.

Next year, the spotlight is expected to shine on the thorny issue of how to pay for climate damage, and how to mobilise the trillions needed for international climate financing programmes.

Financing needs to tackle the climate crisis are estimated in the trillions worldwide, and are especially high in the poorest countries and those particularly vulnerable to climate change, such as small island states. The UN estimates a US$ 3 trillion annual shortfall in investments needed to meet internationally-agreed climate and sustainable development goals.

A decade ago, industrialised countries pledged to jointly mobilise US$ 100 billion annually in climate finance by 2020 to address their needs. Yet only US$ 71 billion was raised in 2017, mostly from public sector aid budgets (and with most provided as loans). There is a consensus that more resources need to be mobilised from private markets for climate-friendly investments and to support a “just transition” to net-zero.

This is where our work to promote Scotland as a leading international centre for ethical and responsible finance comes in. The climate emergency has underscored the importance – indeed urgency – of building a financial system that has better outcomes for people and planet at its heart. Our work at the Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) headquartered in Edinburgh, builds on Scotland’s proud heritage in ethical finance and financial services, to convene the world’s foremost political, business and civic leaders to define and shape the transition to a sustainable financial system.

Within the financial services sector, interest has increased significantly over recent years in the ways it can – and should – look beyond short-term profit and shareholder value towards how it can drive positive social, economic and environmental impact. Increasingly, investors and consumers want to be more thoughtful about the impact their money can make on the world. This has led to a plethora of new initiatives and financial products, such as ethical investment funds, sustainability bonds (where the proceeds are exclusively applied to finance green or social projects), and the development of UN-led Principles for Responsible Investment. Globally, the impact investment market is increasingly popular and is now estimated at over US$502 billion (impact investments are those that seek a positive social and environmental impact in addition to a financial return).

At this year’s climate conference, the European Union unveiled its “Green New Deal” intended to transform Europe’s economy and eliminate its contributions to climate change by 2050. Scotland is even more ambitious: this year it adopted landmark legislation to become a net zero society by 2045, and to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030. Delivering a green transformation that will support employment creation, build skills, boost wages and trigger technological advances will require building a new generation of infrastructure and industries. In addition to well-planned public expenditure that can crowd-in private investment, banks will need to ensure they are able to provide the kinds of financing needed to support this transformation. Aligning their business strategies with society’s goals will in turn will help them leverage new business opportunities and remain competitive with the emergence of the sustainable development economy.

Our view is that finance can be a positive force for change. As we enter a “decade of action” on climate and sustainable development, COP26 in Glasgow in 2020 provides an opportunity for Scotland to showcase the important work it is doing to accelerate the transformation towards a more socially responsible and inclusive financial system – one that serves both people and planet.

 

By Gail Hurley: Senior Consultant, Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI)

Gail was formerly a Senior Advisor to the UN

Follow on Twitter: @gailmlhurley

Follow GEFI on Twitter: @Finance4Change


2020 GLOBAL ETHICAL FINANCE SUMMIT ANNOUNCED

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE GLOBAL ETHICAL FINANCE INITIATIVE

EMBARGO: IMMEDIATE

2020 GLOBAL ETHICAL FINANCE SUMMIT ANNOUNCED

The 2020 global ethical finance summit has been announced, bringing hundreds of major investors, asset owners and finance leaders to Scotland.
Supported by the Scottish Government and the United Nations Development Programme, the flagship event will focus on building a more sustainable financial system.
With the COP26 UN climate change conference taking place in Glasgow next year, the summit’s theme will be protecting our future.
There will be a focus on how financial services can support inclusive economic growth without depleting natural resources, and how the sector can help deliver the Paris Agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
It comes after the COP25 climate talks in Madrid ended with a compromise deal on the global response to curbing carbon.

The ethical finance conference, to be held at the Edinburgh headquarters of RBS on October 6 and 7, 2020, is organised by the Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI), which oversees, organises and coordinates a series of programmes to promote finance for positive change.
It follows a hugely successful conference in 2019, which included a keynote speech from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and video addresses from former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and attracted over 350 participants from around the world.
The announcement of the 2020 summit was made today (MON) at GEFI’s latest ethical finance round table event in Edinburgh, hosted by Baillie Gifford, which addressed responsible investment and more sustainable models for the banking sector.

 

Omar Shaikh, managing director of the Global Ethical Finance Initiative, said:Omar Shaikh
“The 2019 ethical finance summit attracted major international attention, bringing global leaders together to discuss key challenges including products, culture, system change, regulation and maintaining returns in financial services.
“A new way requires holistic thinking which is why the summit uniquely convenes the banking and investment ecosystem, addresses the big challenges we face that rethink capitalism, and connects people to enable partnerships to produce ethical financial solutions.
“To build on this desire for positive change, we’re bringing the finance world back to Scotland in 2020 for our next global summit in October.
“With COP26 taking place in Glasgow just a few weeks later, it significantly enhances the global prominence of this year’s summit and provides an excellent opportunity to focus on climate finance.
“Moving from talk to action, our theme will be protecting the future for everyone.”

 

Kirsty Britz, director of sustainable banking at RBS, said:
“We are looking forward to once again hosting the Global Ethical Finance Summit next year.
“The conference will be an important milestone in an exciting year for Scotland, with world leaders set to come to Glasgow for the UN’s COP26 climate talks in November.
“As a founding signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Banking, RBS has committed to further align our strategy with the Paris Climate Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals.
“The global ethical finance summit provides an excellent opportunity for us to work collaboratively with stakeholders, peers and partners who are leading the agenda.”

 

Andrew Cave, head of governance and sustainability with Baillie Gifford, said: 
“Following the success of this year’s event we are delighted to be supporting Ethical Finance 2020 in Edinburgh next year.
“The global summit is an important platform for facilitating collaborative and insightful discussions that challenge and inspire asset owners and financial institutions to invest responsibly and take practical actions to deliver positive impact for people and the planet.”

 

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

More details on Ethical Finance 2020 can be found here: https://www.globalethicalfinance.org/ethical-finance-2020/

A 2019 event summary can be found here:
https://www.globalethicalfinance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/EF19-Summary.pdf

A photo of Omar Shaikh can be downloaded here


The Faith in Finance Round Table, organised in partnership with UK Islamic Finance Council and the Church of Scotland

As part of Ethical Finance 2019 summit, on 9th October 2019, UKIFC and Church of Scotland organised a private Faith in Finance round table and dinner at St Andrew’s and St George’s West Church.

The event included contributions from across the faiths on topics such as:

  • Interfaith collaboration and the role of faith-based values in modern finance
    • Benefits of bringing different perspectives together
    • Identifying shared values – the Edinburgh Finance Declaration
    • Heritage role of the Church influencing the values of banks and what the current paradigm can take from this history
  • Faith groups sharing leading practice:
    • Engagement strategies
    • Creating a space for religious actors in formal governance models
    • Addressing the common global goals – role of faith traditions to address the SDGs

Participants included Lord John Alderdice, David Pitt-Watson, Shayk Ruzwan Mohammed, Prof. Mohamed Iqbal Asaria, Rev. Fiona Stewart-Darling, Datuk Noripah Kamso, Saker Nusseibeh and Peter Greengrass.