Aligning the Financial System with Sustainable Development in the United States of America

Performance Framework: Needs

A key starting point for assessing the adequacy of sustainable finance are measures of the ammount of finance need, and the financing gaps to address key social and environmental challenges. This includes
  • Capital investment needed for critical priorities such as clean energy, biodiversity, climate change, food security, water and sanitation.
  • Capital needed to be shifted away from unsustainable activities, such as the most resource intensive, and polluting activities, and extensive and inefficient physical infrastructure that locks in resource-intensive consumption.
  • Capital which needs to be reserved against conditions that could challenge sustainability, including insurance against the consequences of the realization of environmental risks.
Estimates of the amount of finance needed in key areas, and the amount of finance that needs to be directed away in others have been undertaken at the international level. For example UNCTAD estimates that US$5-7 trillion a year is needed to finance the Sustainable Development Goals. The Commission on the Economy and Climate estimates some US$5.7 trillion of investment will need to be reduced in fossil fuel extraction and power generation between 2015 and 2030. Similar calculations are taking place nationally.  

Inquiry Publications

  • Aligning the Financial System with Sustainable Development in the United States of America

    Date: 01-Feb-2016

    The US financial system is undoubtedly among the largest, most innovative and most sophisticated in the world. It is also clear that this is both a benefit and an impediment to non-governmental investment in sustainability and inclusiveness. To date, the actual investment in infrastructure and sustainability does not meet current needs, especially those related to maintaining

  • 4th Update Report: The Coming Financial Climate

    Date: 07-May-2015

    This is the 4th Update Report of the UNEP Inquiry, it is focused on the challenge of financing the low-carbon transition. Many approaches and instruments will be needed to deliver the financing needed. Public finance, funded by tax revenues and international transfers, will provide part of the solution.  However such finance will be inadequate. Private

  • Green Finance for Developing Countries

    Date: 15-Jul-2016

    This report outlines key concerns and needs of developing countries in relation to green finance, particularly focusing on developing countries that are not members of the G20. It also highlights emerging innovations, drawing in particular from engagement with practitioners and regulators from Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt, Honduras, Jordan, Kenya, Mauritius, Mongolia, Morocco, Nigeria, the Philippines, Thailand

  • The Financial System We Need: Aligning the Financial System with Sustainable Development

    Date: 08-Oct-2015

      Download the full report: [AR] [CH] [EN] [ES] [FR] [PT] [RU] Download the policy summary: [AR] [CH] [EN] [ES] [FR] [PT] [RU] This first edition of “The Financial System We Need” argues that there is now a historic opportunity to shape a financial system that can more effectively finance the development of an inclusive, green economy. This opportunity is based on a growing trend

  • China Report: Demand for Green Finance

    Date: 06-Oct-2015

    This paper reviews the statistics on investment in fixed assets of key green sectors in China to date and estimates the demand for green finance over the next five years, from 2015 to 2020. It estimates over 3 per cent of GDP—RMB 1,642 billion (USD 260 billion)—was invested into core green industry and infrastructure sectors in 2012.

  • Sustainable Infrastructure and Finance

    Date: 13-Jun-2016

    Infrastructure is often referred to as the backbone of the global economy and plays a fundamental role in societies by enhancing the quality of life and increasing productivity. In addition to its effects on society and the economy, infrastructure can have significant impacts on the environment, depending on the choice of infrastructure. Approximately 75% of

  • On the Role of Central Banks in Enhancing Green Finance

    Date: 20-Feb-2017

    The paper examines the role of central banks in ‘greening’ financial systems. Given the enormous investments needed to bring about a green transformation, the financial sector will have to play a central role in allocating resources towards a sustainable and green economy – and stop financing activities that harm the environment. Against this backdrop, the

  • Financing the Future

    Date: 06-Feb-2017

    Italy’s Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea, in partnership with UN Environment, launched the National Dialogue on Sustainable Finance in February 2016 to identify practical market and policy options to mobilize Italy’s financial system for sustainable development and climate action. The conclusions of the paper are: Italy faces a strategic opportunity to harness its financial

  • Fintech and Sustainable Development – Assessing the Implications

    Date: 14-Dec-2016

    The report, a companion to the second edition of “The Financial System We Need”, assesses how the financial system’s core functions are likely to be disrupted by financial technology (“fintech”) innovations and how they could help – or hinder – efforts to align financing with sustainable development. It considers ways to: Unlock greater financial inclusion by

  • The Role of Policy-Driven Institutions

    Date: 24-Aug-2015

    A variety of interventions can be used to develop national financial systems and provide local access to affordable, long-term finance. This paper considers four key categories of actions: voluntary action; priority sector lending; regulatory or financial incentives as well as direct lending by policy-driven financial institutions. It particularly focuses on the role of policy-driven institutions such

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