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

Policy Lever: Enhancing Market Practice

 Levers to enhance market practice are focused on improving the efficiency and accountability of financial markets. They  improve risk assessment and pricing - ultimately seeking to improve investor decision-making and returns.  This has to date been the most popular approach to internalizing sustainable development into financial decision-making.

Examples

Key approaches include:
  • Fiduciary duty and capacity: clarifying that duties to clients include sustainability factors and including requirements for knowledge and training on sustainability for fiduciaries.
  • Incentives: Encouraging asset owners to ensure better alignment of incentives along the investment chain.
  • Prudential risk management regulation: Integrating sustainability into guidance & requirements on risk management and controls.
  • Stress tests: Developing scenarios to test impact of environmental shocks on assets and business models.
  • Capital requirements: Calibrating capital requirements to incorporate environmental factors.
  • Disclosure requirements: Making environmental reporting by financial institutions and non-financial corporations mandatory.
  • Equity analysis: Encouraging greater transparency in equity analysis of incorporation of sustainability factors.
  • Credit ratings: Encouraging the integration of sustainability risk factors into credit analysis.
  • Green assets Adjusting standards and rules to facilitate capital raising (e.g. green bonds, green sukuks, green IPOs, yieldcos).
  • Indexes: Ensuring that benchmarks and indices reflect critical sustainability factors.

Impacts

These measures provide critical foundations of information needed to sensitise financial decision making to environmental impacts and risks, but they are likely to have a modest impact unless they are combined with additional shifts that make these risks financially material.   

Inquiry Publications

  • Financial Risk and the Transition to a Low Carbon Economy

    Date: 06-Jul-2015

    Climate change  creates two types of potential risks for financial institutions: Physical changes – both through gradual change and extreme weather events which are likely to alter the supply and demand dynamic of many industries and lead to physical damages to assets. The transition to a low carbon economy will alter the financial viability of a part of

  • Brazil Country Report

    Date: 06-Apr-2015

    As a contribution to the UNEP Inquiry the Brazilian Bankers Federation FEBRABAN established a partnership with the Center for Sustainability Studies at Getulio Vargas Foundation (GVCes) to develop three studies on the practice and potential for green finance in Brazil. The first looks at the legislation, regulation, and public policies aimed at socio-environmental themes related to the financial

  • Scaling up Green Bond Market for Sustainable Development

    Date: 09-Dec-2015

    This guide argues that with the right support in place USD 1 trillion of green bonds could be issued a year by 2020 – providing a significant contribution to closing the investment gap for climate-friendly infrastructure in both developed economies and emerging markets. It argues for several sets of policy actions to support and enable the green

  • 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

  • The Environmental Risk Disclosure Regime

    Date: 06-Jul-2015

    In recent years, a plurality of different governance initiatives has emerged that are designed to expand the disclosure of environmental risk within financial markets. There is evidence for policy convergence among different initiatives but it lacks the enforcement necessary for coherence, and contributes to uncertainty within the financial sector over the impact of environmental risk. This uncertainty justifies an expanded role of international

  • 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

  • Greening the Financial System: Enhancing Competitiveness Through Economic Development

    Date: 16-May-2017

    This briefing summarises the discussions held during a roundtable for market and policy leaders in Washington, D.C. on 20 April 2017. The goal of the event was to explore pathways to scale and speed up green finance and to harness its benefits for long-term sustainable growth and competitiveness. The key messages are: Green finance made

  • China Green Finance Task Force Report: Green Funds

    Date: 02-Apr-2015

    This paper sets out the case for promoting the development of green industry funds as public-private partnerships (PPPs) to use limited government funding to leverage private capital into green sectors. It is envisaged that green industry funds will serve as the platform through which private capital can converge into professionally managed green investments with government as one investment

  • Banking & Sustainability: Time for Convergence

    Date: 01-Sep-2015

    In 2014, the UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) commissioned a study entitled Stability and Sustainability in Banking Reform – Are Environmental Risks Missing in Basel III?, in recognition of the growing number of banking regulators around the world that have started to act on environmental

  • China Green Finance Task Force Report: Stock Index

    Date: 02-Apr-2015

    Traditional energy and other highly polluting industries account for a significant share of China’s major stock indices, meaning that passive investments based on stock indices encourage investment polluting industries. Creating green stock indices (stock indices with a significant share of green enterprises) is an international practice to increase the share of green investment by institutional

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