Maintaining the momentum of the Secretary-General’s Climate Summit last month, a global network of 30 financial centres – accounting for $61.3 trillion in equity market capitalization and representing 80 percent of global equity markets – today agreed to mainstream green and sustainable finance both locally and internationally, also agreeing to set common targets by the end of 2022.
In just over two years, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)-convened International Network of Financial Centres for Sustainability (FC4S) has grown from a small movement into one that includes major financial centres from across the world.
These centres met in Geneva to set out a new strategy aiming to align their investments with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals – both of which need a major boost in funding to achieve their objectives.
At the meeting, the centres agreed to throw their full weight behind green and sustainable finance, to strengthen public-private collaboration on sustainable finance and to support coherence across markets in response to policy and regulatory developments.
They aim to agree on key, measurable common targets by the end of 2022; this consultative process will be complete by late 2019 or early 2020.
The FC4S also launched a regional work plan for Africa – the continent where sustainable finance needs are the highest, but flows of finance are lowest.
The programme will work with the five African member centres – Abdijan, Cairo, Casablanca, Lagos and Nairobi – to encourage strategic action, collaborate with peers across the continent, and facilitate engagement with major international hubs.
“The recent Climate Action Summit added new momentum to the global push for sustainability,” said Ligia Noronha, Director of UNEP’s Economy Division. “But action on climate and other environmental challenges needs financial backing. The FC4S and its members can be a major driving force for positive change by directing finance to investments that shore up our planet’s ability to support human development rather than undermine it.”
While green and sustainable finance is growing, the levels dedicated to delivering on the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals are still insufficient. The World Resources Institute estimates that USD 5.7 trillion will need to be invested annually in green infrastructure alone by 2020. However, 2018 research by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change found that climate finance had hit only USD 681 billion annually by 2016. Private sector investment is crucial to make up the shortfall.
FC4S works with the financial centres to close this gap by promoting strategic action on green and sustainable finance, expanding the pipeline of green assets and products, and helping policymakers build positive conditions for green and sustainable finance.
Financial centres generate a powerful clustering effect by concentrating a number of interlocking financial activities – banking, capital markets, investing, insurance, professional services, as well as policy and regulation. As sustainable finance accelerates across the world’s capital markets, FC4S members have recognized the strategic opportunity of their roles in this evolving space.
“The FC4S network has now reached a critical mass, and is primed to play an important role in the global sustainable finance agenda,” said Stephen Nolan, head of FC4S. “Each of our members now has the chance to build a strong, profitable future for themselves while doing what is right for people and planet.”
Martin Spolc, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (FISMA), and Morgan Despres, of the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS), also lent their expertise to the sessions and presented the current state of play of their work.