Climate Action

Paris plays host to global finance leaders at Sustainable Investment Forum Europe

On 13th March, Climate Action, in official partnership with the UN Environment’s Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), held the Sustainable Investment Forum Europe in Paris.

  • 14 March 2018
  • Adam Wentworth

On 13th March, Climate Action, in official partnership with the UN Environment’s Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), held the Sustainable Investment Forum Europe in Paris.

Given France’s strong commitment in supporting the global action to combat climate change, Paris was selected to host the inaugural European Forum.

The one-day event heard from leading CEOs, asset managers, asset owners worth over €3.6 trillion, as well as major policymakers, banks, think tanks and non-profit organisations on the core issues impacting the sector, and wider society.

Topics on the day were broad and bold in their scope: how to decarbonise the energy sector; financing the low-carbon transition, building the right regulatory environment for ESG and translating the Sustainable Development Goals into investment opportunities, were all discussed.

Niklas Ekvall CEO of AP4 stressed the importance of regulators in growing sustainable finance; Philippe Desfossés, CEO of French pension fund ERAFP, argued for greater focus on the bond market to incorporate ESG issues.

The keynote speech, delivered by Naïm Abou-Jaoudé, CEO of Candriam Investors Group, started the day on a positive note with the announcement that the firm plans “to allocate 10 per cent of the revenues of our SRI Flagship funds to social impact projects”.

Audiences also heard from speakers representing Caisse des Depots, PFZW, the Church of England, and European Parliament.

Ugo Bassi, Director of Financial Markets at the European Commission walked the audience through the EU’s new Action Plan on sustainable finance, and how he hoped it would embed sustainability across the financial sector for years to come. He spoke of the “180 billion euro a year investment gap” needed to fulfil the EU’s ambitious climate targets under the Paris Agreement, and how the new strategy aims to remedy the problem.

The Action Plan was a much-discussed part of the day, gaining significant interest from the audience and being debated across a wide range of panels. The Plan’s aim to provide a clear “taxonomy” on what is defined by green, black, or brown investments was also a key topic picked up by speakers and participants.

Antoni Ballabriga, the Global Head of Responsible Business at BBVA touched on another important strand of the day: the Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). He mentioned that the TCFD is “the future of climate disclosure, including for banks, but it is complex”. However, through the work of the UNEP FI’s pilot group, BBVA has been able “to find innovative solutions with peers around the world”.

He also issued a rallying call to others in room, stating “"We need you to drive change. We need not just banks, but all companies to do it".

Eva Halvarsson, CEO of the Second Swedish Pension Fund (AP2) commented that for ESG to succeed it must be both “top down and bottom up”.

“We want to find the best companies and ESG is the answer: commitments, culture and curiosity, we are believers. This is how you make it happen”, she added.

Ted Halstead, founder and Chairman of the Climate Action Council also presented his Conservative case for ‘carbon dividends’ where a gradually rising tax on carbon is returned to the American people.


             Naïm Abou-Jaoudé, CEO of Candriam, delivers the keynote speech


Nick Henry, CEO and Founder of Climate Action, commented on the event and the progress made so far in the sector: “There is a real momentum behind sustainable finance at the moment and that was on display in Paris this week. Financial institutions are taking this area very seriously and it’s fast becoming an essential part of their portfolios.

“We were happy to host such a wide range of leaders from both the public and private sector. I’m confident that the insights and ideas we heard at the Forum will be translated into a tangible set of actions”.

Climate Action would like to thank for their support the Headline Sponsor Candriam Investors Group, as well as Gold sponsors NN Investment Partners, Amundi, BBVA, and Fidelity International. Silver sponsors were Denham Capital, Sycomore, and BNP Paribas.

The official carbon offset partner for the event was Ecosphere +. More on the partnership can be found here.

Climate Action is looking forward to the 3rd Sustainable Investment Forum North America, taking place in New York City on the 26th September 2018 during Climate Week NYC.