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

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

  • Towards a Performance Framework for a Sustainable Financial System

    Date: 29-Nov-2016

    This paper is intended to serve as a window on the Inquiry’s analytical approach, providing a deeper understanding of the unifying criteria for evaluation of multiple market designs for financial systems in a variety of economic, political and social settings. It is also intended to provide a foundation for investors and corporate management and policymakers,

  • 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

  • Indonesia Country Report

    Date: 30-Apr-2015

    Placing Indonesia’s economy onto a green and sustainable development pathway, as envisaged in the National Long Term Development Plan, will require a large mobilization of investment. Estimates of the annual investment needed are in the order of US$300‐530 billion, with a large portion of this investment needed in critical infrastructure, as well as environmentally sensitive

  • 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

  • 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

  • 3rd Update Report: Pathways to Scale

    Date: 07-Jan-2015

    This is the 3rd Update Report of the UNEP Inquiry, it is focused on the challenge of financing the low-carbon transition. It explores how innovative ideas and practices can be made more effective, adopted more widely, and taken to scale—and as a result move the trillions that are required. Scaling-up proven but limited innovations, is a common

  • 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.

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