The EU’s sustainable finance agenda took off in 2018 with the publication of the High-Level Expert Group Report on Sustainable Finance, initiating the decade of sustainable finance. Five years later, it is time to evaluate. What are the lessons learned of the previous five years? And what should the next Commission do to achieve a sustainable financial market by the end of its mandate?
Sustainable finance is still a work in progress, as can be seen by growing international criticism. While some fear it stifles innovation and creates a system of woke capitalism, others deem sustainable finance a distraction without a significant effect on climate change. EU action has been instrumental in creating a mature global market, yet challenges remain. While the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation was a big step forward, the lack of clear minimum standards for sustainable funds has led to accusations of greenwashing. Further, the EU Taxonomy’s focus on “being green” has led to divisive debates, which a bigger focus on “becoming green” through transition finance could help deflate. Lastly, an excessive focus on environmental sustainability might undermine efforts to create a just transition that citizens support.
A good moment to evaluate: What is the reason we embarked on this challenge? And are we focusing our energy on the right aspects? Are we doing enough to make financial markets a real engine for sustainable growth, particularly in the context of what may very well be remembered as the decade of sustainable finance, or are we creating fee-generating business models for the financial sector?
To address these questions and stimulate the debate on sustainable finance, this half-time evaluation will bring together politicians, regulators, NGOs, and industry. With all cards of the current Commission on the table, including the recent communication on transition finance, we can move to the next phase in the sustainable finance agenda. With a focus not just on defining what is green, but on helping companies actually become green. And to extend the EU’s sustainable finance agenda to the full scale of ESG considerations.
Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Co-President of The Club of Rome, will join one of the panels to discuss Social sustainability – Keeping the S in ESG,’ along with other prominent experts:
- Petra Hielkema, Chair, European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority
- Antje Schneeweiss, General Secretary of the working group of church investors of the Protestant Church of Germany
- Benoît van den Hove, CEO, Euronext Brussels & member of Management Board, Euronext Group
- Kathryn Carlson, Financial Services Correspondent Europe, Mlex
Explore the program and list of speakers for each panel here.