Building the skills to make every financial decision a climate decision

by | Jul 6, 2021

Keynote address by Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas, OBE

Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time. It presents significant financial risks to business and society, but also offers opportunities for those willing to lead the transition to a sustainable, low carbon world.

At the Green Finance Institute, our aim is to accelerate the transition to a clean, resilient, and environmentally sustainable economy by channelling capital at pace and scale towards real-economy outcomes that will create jobs and increase prosperity for all. Events like London Climate Action Week are key to reaching new audiences and galvanising momentum towards COP26 and beyond.

The need to educate banking, finance and professional services bodies

One of our focuses for this London Climate Action Week is on upskilling banking, finance, and professional services bodies. Such bodies play a critically important role in shaping and defining standards, norms, values, and practices in their respective professions. To ensure every professional financial decision includes climate change, every finance professional needs to have the skills and knowledge to accurately assess climate-related risk and opportunities.

These organisations are a key enabler in the transition to a resilient, inclusive, net-zero economy. To unlock their potential and play this role effectively, the relevant skills and knowledge-sharing need to be in place across the industry to ensure climate and nature-related risks and opportunities are embedded at the heart of all financial decision making.

This is essential to facilitate the delivery of the UK Government’s policy objectives outlined in the Green Finance Strategy, the 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, and the Net Zero Strategy due to be published later this year.

The Green Finance Education Charter

We acknowledge the collective responsibility of the global community to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals and meet Paris Agreement targets. The banking, finance and professional services sectors must lead in making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and inclusive climate-resilient development.

The Green Finance Education Charter, hosted by the Green Finance Institute, is designed to build the capacity and capability of the green finance sector by ensuring all financial services practitioners have the vital skills necessary to accurately assess climate and nature-related risk and opportunities.

Through the charter, members engage on issues related to climate change and environmental issues, with the aim of raising their profile within the relevant professions and providing the resources, education, and inspiration to allow others to join us in effecting change in each of our sectors.

By setting standards across major professional bodies headquartered in the UK, the Green Finance Education Charter will help to maintain and further build on the UK’s international competitiveness and position as a global center for green finance underpinned by world-leading talent.

Since its launch one year ago, the Green Finance Education Charter has also enabled the curation, development and promotion of relevant green and sustainable finance resources accessible to a wide range of finance professionals.

Over just this period, the value of the Charter has been proven. All the 12 member bodies have made significant strides towards achieving the objectives set out in the Charter, and driven momentum in closing the skills gap in green finance.

As a global first, the Green Finance Education Charter can be used as a model for other countries to develop similar initiatives in an effort to build a harmonized, global approach to the skills and training necessary to ensure green finance becomes mainstream finance.

2021 as a year for progress

2021 is a pivotal year in the fight against climate change. London Climate Action Week, and COP26 in November, provide a key opportunity to come together as a global community, share our learning and experiences and explore how we can build a Global Alliance for Finance Skills for net-zero. We need to fast forward to a global ecosystem where every financial decision is a climate decision, and we need to do this now.