Shifting the Focus to Sustainable and Green Financing

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Sustainable finance has risen to prominence in recent years, especially with growing consciousness of the urgent necessity of leveraging funding to fight the effects of climate change. The International Network of Financial Centres for Sustainability (FC4S Network) was founded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to enable financial centres to exchange experience and collaborate to drive the growth of green and sustainable finance. As of March 2019, the FC4S Network has 22 centres as members, including Abu Dhabi, Casablanca, Hong Kong, London, Nairobi, and New York City.

In a recent report, the FC4S Network found that, while climate change continues to be a focus area for financial centres making the shift to sustainable finance, FC4S members are also broadening their offerings to include other environmental and social priorities, such as financial inclusion and conservation. Another focus area is on the development of financial technology (fintech) solutions to sustainable finance challenges. This is a fascinating example of international cooperation that also drives each financial centre’s individual competitiveness in the global marketplace. The linkage with the Shared Value mindset is not difficult to see.

On Monday 18 March 2019, the Shared Value Africa Initiative and the United Nations Environment Programme co-hosted an exclusive information-sharing session on the International Network of Financial Centres for Sustainability (FC4S) and the strategic role of financial centres in the shifting global economic climate. The event was attended by executives from across the Johannesburg financial services sector, including representatives from SVAI Founding Members Absa and Old Mutual.

SVAI Director and Former Ambassador Nozipho January-Bardill welcomed a roster of speakers that featured our CEO Tiekie Barnard, FC4S Secretariat Senior Advisor Mark Halle and Mahenau Agha, UN Environment Programme Head of Outreach. Mark led the primary discussion, introducing the FC4S Network to attendees, answering questions and inspiring thought-provoking questions from the audience. There was an in-depth discussion of the FC4S network, the future of financing, and the current financial landscape in Johannesburg and in Africa as a whole. The FC4S is concentrating on building its network in Africa, because Africa has the greatest need and the lowest levels of investment.

Going forward, the United Nations Environment Programme and the Shared Value Africa Initiative are working together to drive the conversation around FC4S in Johannesburg and motivating the Johannesburg financial services community to make sustainable and green financing a collective focus area.