Wrapping up 2022 and unwrapping 2023 | Ethical Finance Round Table

Our final event of 2022 will be our traditional year-end Ethical Finance Round Table. This returns as an in-person event on Tuesday, 13 December at 10:30-12:00pm at RBS Accelerator, 36 Saint Andrew Square, Edinburgh.

Our speakers will reflect on 2022 and look ahead to 2023. They will dissect the impact Ukraine, COP27 and the cost of living crisis have had on finance, before turning their thoughts to the coming year, including COP28 in Dubai, with time for networking after the formal proceedings.

The speakers will be:

  • David Pitt-Watson, Visiting Fellow, Cambridge Judge Business School
  • Amanda Young, Chief Sustainability Officer, abrdn
  • Thom Kenrick, Head of Social Strategy and Impact, NatWest Group
  • Dr Sarah Ivory, Senior Lecturer in Climate Change and Business Strategy, University of Edinburgh Business

Click here to sign up now.

Adam Smith, climate, COP and natural capital | David Pitt-Watson | The Radical Old Idea

Watch our Radical Old Idea interview on Adam Smith with David Pitt-Watson, responsible investing pioneer and Cambridge Judge Business School. As COP27 came to a close, our researcher Sam Wheldon-Bayes spoke to David about Smith, the climate crisis, COP and natural capital.

In the interview, filmed at Adam Smith's Panmure House, where the Enlightenment scholar once lived, David discusses what Smith would have thought about climate, COP and natural capital, applying these lessons to some of the big questions facing modern policymakers. The discussion draws on the Wealth of Nations in the 21st Century essay series, which he contributed to.

As David argues, some of Smith's modern devotees dramatically misunderstand his beliefs. In the face of a collective challenge such as climate change, it is unlikely Smith would have proposed a free-market, low-regulation approach, but rather advocated effective regulation.

Click here to watch now.

"Channel your inner 3-year-old" | The Radical Old Idea with Dr Katherine Trebeck, on the Economics of Arrival

Why is it necessary to "channel your inner 3-year-old" to reshape the economy?

At our Radical Old Idea event, Dr. Katherine Trebeck explained the basics of her recent book the Economics of Arrival to Kaisie Rayner. For Dr Trebeck, economics should be focused not on growing indefinitely, but instead on point of "arrival": a destination that, once reached, allows us to "make ourselves at home". To get here we must channel that inner 3-year-old, to constantly ask "why?".

Why do we need more growth?

Why do we need to work 40-hour-weeks?

Why can someone work a full-time job and still be in poverty?

This focuses the mind on the point of arrival. The lack of an endpoint leaves our economies directionless, focusing too much "helping people and planet cope", remedying social aches and pains without treating their root causes.

As she explained, growth up to a point is good, providing us with the means to live a decent life. In particular, growing the incomes of the poorest in society delivers results. However, beyond a certain point, it ceases to increase happiness (in development economics, this is often known as the 'Easterlin paradox'). Just like eating ice-cream, the first few mouthfuls are incredible, but after a while, each extra spoon provides less joy than the previous one.

Building on the food metaphor, she pointed out that growth should be a means to an end. Growth for growth's sake is akin to walking into a restaurant and shouting "more!". It's far more important to know what it is that you want more of, such as looking after citizens, providing food, health services, and a decent material standard of living.

Some examples of economies that have arrived, or have the potential to arrive, include Japan and Costa Rica. Japan has a high standard of living, and relatively low inequality without extensive redistrubution. However, without a clear endpoint, the country suffers from high worker stress, when in fact it could "take its foot off the pedal" and lead a better life by slowing down.

Another exaple is that of Costa Rica, which is a middle income country that has thrived in terms of health, social and nature outcomes, because it has focused on outcomes rather than economic growth for its own sake.

The event concluded with a lively audience discussion which looked at how to practically ditch GDP, whether the focus on predistribution over redistribution was viable, the role of elites and more.

Find the Economics of Arrival at https://policy.bristoluniversitypress.co.uk/the-economics-of-arrival


"Forgive me father, for I have measure" | Leadership and Purpose | Ethical Finance Global 2022

"Forgive me father, for I have measured"

An eclectic conversation between Simon Thompson of The Chartered Banker Institute, Sarah Birrell Ivory of University of Edinburgh Business School and Will Goodhart of CFA UK saw us close out a wonderful day of debate and discussion at Ethical Finance Global 2022.

With no moderator to keep the peace, a freewheeling and entertaining conversation between the trio asked how to translate the day's good intentions into action.

They pondered whether the ceaseless call for better data is a sin against real activity, how professional education and professional values can produce socially and environmentally aware employees, the need for leaders to listen, and everything in between.

Watch now at https://youtu.be/D5u4gvpFOVY.

Geopolitical Risk and Ethical Finance | Ethical Finance Global 2022

What does the war in Ukraine mean for energy policy? Where does China fit in on sustainable finance efforts?

In an excellent first panel from Ethical Finance Global 2022, with Dame Susan Rice FSCB, Agi Veres, UNDP, Stephen Hibbert, ING and Leon Kamhi, Federated Hermes engaged in a wide-ranging discussion.

They discussed China's progress on sustainability and sustainable finance, and its vital role in delivering green infrastructure at the scale needed for the world's net zero transition.

Another topic was the energy crisis, and the tensions inherent in balancing environmental and social sustainability, the differing rates of inflation in society and whether the rise in prices brought about by the war in Ukraine justify rolling back commitments made on fossil fuel financing; according to ING, they do not.

Finally, participants discussed the need for companies to protect their lowest paid workers from the crisis, and the role that younger eployees, who are more purpose-oriented, have had on transforming their places of work.

Watch now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ru4QUM3F8k.

Achieving Net Zero | Ethical Finance Global 2022

James Wilde of Phoenix Group, Eva Cairns of abrdn and Chris Hayward of joined our Ethical Finance Global 2022 climate change panel, with David Pitt-Watson as moderator. Watch now at

The panel was focused on fielding questions from the audience, with a number of insightful contributions from those gathered. The session looked at the different initiatives present in the market, the role of metrics and their reflection of reality and the need for deep engagement with companies.

In particular, Eva remarked that "you can divest quickly with a low carbon portfolio… but you haven’t actually moved anything in the real world". A net zero portfolio can be achieved by excluding high-emission sectors, but as sectors such as cement are likely to be economically useful, this may do nothing to transition towards a clean economy as a whole.

James Wilde emphasised the need for a long-term view, and argued for greater collaboration between the constituent parts of a normally competitive sector, in order to address the climate crisis.

Closing the session, Chris Hayward issued a rousing call for politicians and financiers to shed their "short timescales", reject the ease of saying "let the millennials sort this out" and take responsibility for the crisis.

Watch now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StsHWeGkcF4


Ethical Finance Global 2022 - summit announced

We are delighted to formally announce the launch of Ethical Finance Global 2022, which will take place as an in-person event on 6th September 2022 in Edinburgh hosted by NatWest Group.

The summit is the premier event in ethical finance, and is themed 'ESG in a Volatile World: Profit, Principles or Politics'. It will tackle three core thematics: climate, nature and social. Confirmed speakers include Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma MP, Sarah Breeden, Saker Nusseibeh and Anshula Kant. Click here to find out more.

Our in-person events offer a unique ability to forge connections, and over the years our Summits have built capacity, influenced policy, enabled deals, informed new products, driven framework commitments, helped deploy capital to the SDGs and developed lifelong friendships. If you have attended our flagship global Summit in the past, we would love to see you again in September; if not, then now is your chance!

As well as looking at macroeconomic issues impacting global markets, we will have specific sessions on topics including:

  • The growing impact of conflict and geopolitics in ESG
  • Core global challenges in financing climate adaptation and mitigation
  • The role of finance in protecting and restoring nature and biodiversity
  • The emergence of the S in ESG as a core priority
  • The role of financial leaders in defining organisational purpose
  • Financing the SDGs

Sign up now at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ethical-finance-global-2022-esg-in-a-volatile-world-registration-349512941617?aff=blog, using the code 'EARLY20' for a 20% early bird discount.

The Data Dichotomy: Courage or Caution | Ethical Finance Round Table

Our next Ethical Finance Round Table event, entitled The Data Dichotomy: Courage or Caution, will take place on Tuesday 14 June 2022. It will explore developments in ESG data provision, its limitations and how asset managers are using data to inform long term investment decisions.

Our speakers will respond to some of the toughest questions facing the industry:

  • Is "we need better data" becoming an excuse for inaction from the industry?
  • Are ESG ratings fundamentally compromised by being at least partly based on subjective data?
  • How does the backwards-looking nature of data square with the long-term, forwards-looking view that responsible asset owners should take?
  • As disclosures become more widespread and data improves, is there pressure to avoid sectors or regions with poorer disclosures, even if they might deliver genuine impact?

Confirmed speakers are:

  • Graham Burnside, Co-Founder and Senior Advisor, GEFI (moderator)
  • Dr Richard Mattison, President of S&P Global Sustainable1 and CEO of S&P Global Trucost.
  • Hetal Patel, Head of Climate Investment Risk, Phoenix Group
  • Kate McGrath, ESG Analyst – Fixed Income, abrdn

Sign up now at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/1716527070480/WN_i9UjoXj0QZm6xbEczOhEKw.

Financing a Shared Future for All Life on Earth: the role of TNFD in a Global Biodiversity Framework - Biodiversity Day interview with Elizabeth Mrema, UN CPD & Lorna Slater MSP

Last week would have seen the crucial biodiversity summit COP15 take place, before it was delayed due to the pandemic. To mark both Biodiversity Day and the original date, and build moment before the rescheduled summit this Autumn, we hosted a discussion on Financing a Shared Future for All Life on Earth: the role of TNFD in a Global Biodiversity Framework.

We were joined by UN Convention on Biodiversity Executive Secretary & Taskforce for Nature-Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) Co-chair Elizabeth Mrema and Scottish Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity Lorna Slater MSP, to discuss why we need to finance nature, the Global Biodiversity Framework, how governments can help and what the Scottish Government is doing in this space.

Despite on-going efforts, biodiversity is deteriorating worldwide and this decline is projected to worsen with business-as-usual scenarios. This session, aimed at global finance practitioners, is intended to raise aware and inspire practical action in relation to the critical need to finance. It will provide an update on global and national initiatives to help drive the action required to finance a shared future for all life on earth.

With the forthcoming Global Biodiversity Framework, the Convention on Biological Diversity is setting the stage for a worldwide re-direction of financial flows away from nature-negative and towards nature-positive outcomes. Market players are speeding ahead with testing the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) beta framework, to make it ready to inform and respond to these new international norms around nature, nature-based solutions and finance. As part of the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation, we have committed to establishing a values-led, high-integrity market for responsible investment in natural capital.

GEFI has a long history of supporting finance for nature, from a programme of collaboration between UNDP, GEFI and the Scottish Government, to the COP26 launch of an exclusive, commercial platform showcasing financial products that are directly aligned to the SDGs, and nature-focused sessions at our annual summits and COP26.

Agenda Announced: Ethical Finance ASEAN 2022

The Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) and the Asian Institute of Chartered Bankers are delighted to announce the launch of the agenda for our inaugural Ethical Finance ASEAN 2022 summit.

Taking place virtually on Wednesday 29 June 2022, the summit begins at 10am MYT (GMT+8), with a full replay taking place later at 10am BST (GMT+1). The summit starts with an overview of sustainable finance in the ASEAN region, before exploring the topic further in sessions centred around three core thematics: climate, nature and social. The summit then explores practical pathways to action with a session on the SDGs and concludes with an interview between prominent corporate and financial sustainability leaders. Click here to view the agenda.

Speakers include:

  • Komi Rajdev, Head of Business Development ASEAN, Moody’s ESG Solutions
  • Suraya Sani, Senior Supervisor, Financial Conglomerates Supervision Department, Bank Negara Malaysia
  • Shahril Azuar Bin Jimin, Chief Sustainability Officer, MayBank
  • Raja Amir Shah Raja Azwa, CEO, HSBC Amanah
  • Yuki Yasui, Regional Director, GFANZ APAC Network
  • Rafe Haneef, CEO, Group Transaction Banking and Group Chief Sustainability Office
  • Rizal Il-Ehzan Bin Fadil Azim, CEO, Alliance Islamic Bank Berhad

Sign up now at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ethical-finance-asean-2022-tickets-299068761717?aff=agenda