First edition of the Sustainable Finance Forum
Policymakers and industry leaders from the European sustainable finance community gathered in Luxembourg on 30 May for the 1st edition of the Sustainable Finance Forum to discuss the key role of the financial industry in the transition towards a sustainable, low-carbon economy. With around 600 registered participants, the success of this first edition is indeed testimony to the growing importance of sustainable finance.
The Forum provided a platform to address key regulatory and market challenges, notably exploring the extent to which policy is needed to advance and mainstream sustainable finance. It moreover addressed asset managers’ as well as asset owners’ role in driving the sustainable investment agenda, and how capital markets can contribute to channelling investments into green and sustainable projects.
Afternoon panels focused on sustainable products available on the market and investors’ demand, impact investments as well as the need for common standards and reporting for green and sustainable assets.
Two overarching themes were highlighted throughout the conference: the need for consent on clear definitions of green, sustainable and social (the so-called taxonomy), as well as access to relevant data and information for investors, and the future importance of aggregation, notably via securitisation, to increase the pool of sustainable assets.
The conference was opened by Pierre Gramegna, Luxembourg’s Minister of Finance. He stated: “Climate change is the most important challenge facing humanity, and the financial sector should be leveraged to help meet the Paris Climate targets and the Sustainable Development Goals. Building on its pioneering experience in the field of green finance and responsible investment, Luxembourg’s financial centre is today a European leader in the field of sustainable finance.”
Ugo Bassi, Director of DG Financial Markets at the European Commission provided the audience with an overview of the EU’s planned actions to drive forward sustainable finance. These include a unified EU taxonomy, disclosure obligations for asset managers and asset owners, as well as low-carbon benchmarks.
“Where climate finance is concerned, there is a European consensus. We all share the same objective: the transition to a more sustainable economy. Our goal is to lead by our example in the implementation of the COP 21 objectives.” Mr Bassi also lauded Luxembourg for its commitment to sustainable finance and the pioneering initiatives the government and the financial industry have undertaken in this field.
International Climate Finance Accelerator
The Forum was also the occasion to announce the first cohort of asset managers selected to join the International Climate Finance Accelerator Luxembourg (ICFA), a Public-Private Partnership with the objectives to create future leaders of fund managers investing in climate finance and increase the number of climate finance investment funds.
Asset Managers selected for the ICFA:
Empower New Energy, an investment company offering clean and affordable energy financing solutions in developing countries;
Impact Capitalyst, a fund manager investing in sustainable agricultural businesses active in sub-Saharan Africa;
Serimus Hydro, an asset manager specializing in the financing of small hydropower plants;
Uberis Capital, an investment company with societal impacts active in emerging countries.
A special climate finance ambassador award was granted to the Lightsmith Group.
Luxembourg partnership with the IFC
Luxembourg’s commitment to sustainable finance was further strengthened, on Tuesday 29 May, by the signing of an agreement the Luxembourg government and the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, that will support the creation of new markets for climate finance in emerging economies—by developing green-bond policies, training bankers and executives, and helping countries adopt the Green Bond Principles and other best practices. The government of Luxembourg will provide €1 million to IFC’s Green Cornerstone Bond Fund Support Program, a technical assistance program managed by IFC to complement the Amundi Planet Emerging Green One Fund —the world’s largest targeted green bond fund focused on emerging markets. The fund is based in Luxembourg and listed on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange.