Speaker Highlights

Session 1 - Welcome and the ESG emergency

Welcome words

Judith Cruickshank, RBS,  and Omar Shaikh, GEFI, welcome the summit delegates.

The End of ESG  & The Challenges in ESG Integration

Alex Edmans | The End of ESG Alex Edmans of London Business School delivered an opening keynote to Ethical Finance Global 2023 presenting some of his latest research, including his thesis that ESG is “both very important and nothing special”. Drawing on examples from around the world, he explained how a focus on purpose delivered good business ideas, which were profitable.

The Challenges in ESG Integration | Ethical Finance Global 2023 Alex Edmans of London Business School moderated a panel with top finance leaders Katie Murray of NatWest Group and Stephen Jones of Aegon Asset Management to open Ethical Finance Global 2023, exploring the challenges for ESG integration at different financial institutions.

Leadership and Purpose in Times of Crisis

A fascinating keynote from Prof Sir John Kay on how the pharmaceutical industry shifted from saving lives to peddling opioids. Over time, pressure from investors changed focus to cut R&D, and increase marketing and prices. This transformed the industry from one that made money while serving a social purpose, into one of the least trusted industries in the world.

Session 2 - Greenwashing and Regulatory Perspectives

Virtue Signalling or Real Action - Has Finance Failed?

Is Finance Failing? Direct air carbon capture is a false promise, says Satya S. Tripathi of Global Alliance for a Sustainable Planet at our Ethical Finance Global 2023 summit. Storing carbon at $650/tn without changing the structure of the economy. If we gave $100/tn to poorer farmers (current EU ETS price) we could store CO2, increase yields and reduce poverty.

Overcoming Greenwashing

“If we don’t have a world to retire to in 30 years time, our industry is pointless.” Our Ethical Finance Global 2023 panel on greenwashing saw a range of perspectives from across the finance sector, focusing on how to truly embed sustainability and prevent greenwashing and misselling, with David Sheasby of Martin Currie and Franklin Templeton, Amanda Young of abrdn, Yulia Bull of Principles for Responsible Investment, and Sonali Siriwardena of Simmons & Simmons.


Maud Abdelli of WWF presented a brand new AI “red flag indicator” to assess corporate climate transition plans and tackle greenwashing at Ethical Finance Global 2023, developed in partnership with Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment – University of Oxford, Oxford Sustainable Finance Group, University of Oxford and the University of Zurich. The tool defines a common ground for transition plans, develops a screening approach to “red flag” those with inconsistencies and builds on existing work by CA100+, CDP, IIGCC, IFRS.

Regulatory Perspectives

Azalina Adham of Securities Commission Malaysia, Michael Mainelli of Z/Yen Group Limited and City of London Corporation and Ian Johnston of DFSA/DIFC join a panel moderated by Dame Susan Rice of FSCB and our Global Steering Group to discuss. The group discussed how regionally-specific taxonomies can benefit, with a focus from Azalina on the traffic light system of the ASEAN sustainability finance taxonomy and how this encourages businesses across the diverse ASEAN economy to get started on sustainability reporting.

Principles for Responsible Banking towards Real World Impact

A birthday party at Ethical Finance Global 2023 for the Principles for Responsible Banking! 🎉 Laura Lightbody of United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) recaps 4 years of PRB progress, and looks ahead to a 2030 agenda which includes climate, nature, economic inclusion and human rights.

Session 3 - the 'S' in ESG

Young Banker of the Year

Excellent presentation from The Chartered Banker Institute Young Banker of the Year Andrew Neilson from NatWest Group on how to prevent fraud through technology and a customer-centred approach, at our Ethical Finance Global 2023 summit.

Sustainable Finance for a Wellbeing Economy in Scotland

Neil Gray, MSP, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy presents the Scottish Government’s strategy for achieving net zero through a strong sustainable finance sector.

S in ESG Question Time Panel

Excellent panel on social finance – the S in ESG – at Ethical Finance Global 2023, featuring Charles Haresnape of Gatehouse Bank plc, Elizabeth Houston of MSCI Inc. and Modupe Ladipo of Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC), moderated by David Pitt-Watson of Cambridge Judge Business School.

The panel covered access to finance, measuring social impact and more. Modupe Ladipo emphasised that “2 billion people in the world do not have access to a bank account.”, which harms both them and their wider economies. How do we solve this? For Module, the answer is to look at people’s needs and practices, and design products for them.

Human Rights and Justice Panel

“Quants are important, but we have to remember that this is about people”

Rachel A. Aron and Sara Thornton of CCLA Investment Management explore human rights, justice and gender in the context of finance at our Ethical Finance Global 2023 summit, with Alasdair Naisbitt King of Naisbitt King Group moderating.

They looked at how exploiters can take out financial products in the name of survivors, the paucity of data around human rights and gender that finance institutions can use, the lack of willingness to produce data where none exists, and the policies that can be developed to make progress on these issues.

Session 4 - Nature and Purpose

Investing in Nature's Recovery in the UK

Andreas Arvanitakis of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs sets out the UK government’s approach to nature finance. The UK government has set up a transition taskforce so that corporates can assess whether or not they are undergoing a nature-positive transition: “We are making sure that businesses know how to identify, assess and act upon their nature-related financial risks and opportunities.”

Nature Question Time Panel

“TNFD is a good first step” A fascinating panel on biodiversity at Ethical Finance Global 2023 moderated by Sarah Birrell Ivory of University of Edinburgh Business School, with Sonya Likhtman of Federated Hermes, Brian Henderson of Mercer and Bruno Gardner of Phoenix Group.

The panel discussed the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), how financial institutions can think about and act upon nature and biodiversity, and whether they are moving fast enough.

Way Forward - Purpose

“Don’t chase the money, chase the mission”

Amy Clarke of Tribe Impact Capital and Nigel Kershaw of The Big Issue took part in the final Ethical Finance Global 2023 panel, covering mission, purpose, their respective careers and how to drive true impact. As Nigel put it: “Don’t chase the money, change the mission”.

Closing Keynote

“We should be evangelising for sustainable business”

“We should be evangelising for sustainable business”, says Simon Thompson of The Chartered Banker Institute closing Ethical Finance Global 2023.

“Let’s use the platforms and tools we have in business and finance to stress the positives, such as growth and energy security.”

Drawing a parallel with the upcoming reception at Edinburgh Castle, he made the case that those of us in sustainability need to not hide behind our castle walls, but venture bravely forth into the world with our message of purpose married with sound commercial logic.