Greening the Rules of the Game

Policy Lever: Directing Finance Through Policy

Policy directed finance approaches introduce requirements or prohibitions that shift capital allocation. Such measures in effect introduce new performance criteria into financial decision-making, which might reduce or increase risk-adjusted returns. The Inquiry found that measures that change the legal requirements facing financial institutions are perhaps the most contentious, but are also widely used.

Examples

Examples in practice include:
  • Lender and other liabilities: legal liability regimes for lenders, fiduciaries and insurers (and responses in terms of due diligence for environmental risk).
  • Capital requirements: adjustments to capital ratios to enable lending towards critical sectors (e.g. for SMEs, green assets).
  • Priority sector lending: integration of environmental and social factors into priority lending programmes.
  • Prohibitions: restrictionson financial transactions due to excessive societal costs e.g. lending to illegal deforestation (Brazil) and pollution intensive industrial plants (China).
  • Directed service provision: requirements that financial institutions provide access to particular financial services such as basic bank accounts and insurance.
  • Mandatory purchase requirements: mandatory requirements for purchase of key financial services (such as insurance) that are essential for system resilience in the face of environmental stress.

Impacts

Measures such as priority lending and strengthened environmental liability have a strong potential for driving change, but need careful design and market preparation to avoid unintended consequences.    

Inquiry Publications

  • 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

  • The Financial System We Need: From Momentum to Transformation

    Date: 29-Sep-2016

    Download the policy summary: [AR] [CH] [EN] [ES] [FR] [PT] [RU] Download the individual chapters: Chapter 1: Mapping the momentum | Chapter 2: Harnessing financial technology for sustainable development | Chapter 3: Measuring performance | Chapter 4: Steps towards transformation Our follow-up annual report reveals a doubling in policy actions over the past five years to align the global financial system with sustainable

  • Making Waves

    Date: 17-Apr-2018

    The Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System was initiated by the United Nations Environment Programme to advance options to align the financial system with sustainable development. ‘Making Waves: Aligning the Financial System with Sustainable Development’ is its final, global report. This report reviews the Inquiry’s core analysis, summarizes progress made in aligning

  • 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

  • Financing the Transition – How Financial System Reform Can Serve Sustainable Development

    Date: 15-Nov-2016

    This report is focused on understanding how the growing number of policy and regulatory measures taken in the financial system can support a real economy in transition, seeking to answer the question: ‘what measures are most needed to deliver efficiency, effectiveness and resilience in ways that the financial system can contribute to specific sustainability priorities

  • Greening the Rules of the Game

    Date: 23-May-2018

    Over the past four years, the number of measures taken by financial policymakers and regulators to promote green and sustainable finance has significantly increased. This report is the first to chart this ‘quiet revolution’ and analyse this important new trend in terms of the geographical, sectoral and thematic spread of measures. Key findings include: Globally,

  • China Report

    Date: 06-Oct-2015

    The Inquiry collaborated in an 18-month project, Greening China’s Financial System, carried out by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the Finance Research Institute (FRI), Development Research Center (DRC) of the State Council. The aim was to develop specific proposals for greening China’s financial system, based on an analysis of current practice in China

  • UK Country Report

    Date: 14-Jan-2016

    This paper looks at the steps that the UK has taken towards a sustainable financial system shaped by its role as a global financial centre and a distinctive dynamic between social entrepreneurs and civil society organisations, market innovation and policy frameworks.The City of London is not only home to some of the world’s largest financial markets, but

  • Roadmap for a Sustainable Financial System

    Date: 13-Nov-2017

    The objective of this Roadmap is to propose an integrated approach that can be used by all financial sector stakeholders—both public and private—to accelerate the transformation toward a sustainable financial system. This approach can bring policy cohesiveness across ministries, central banks, financial regulators, and private financial sector participants to focus efforts. The ultimate vision that

  • The Experience of Governance Innovations in South Africa

    Date: 17-Jun-2016

    This paper explores whether the extent to which Regulation 28, CRISA and JSE Integrated Reporting Standards (referred to as governance policy innovations) have influenced the level of investment that integrates Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) in its decision making process. It finds that while governance innovations have increased actors’ awareness about interrelationship between ESG factors and financial performance it

Copyright © United Nations Environment Programme. All Rights Reserved. Contact us