When it comes to the topic of sustainable finance, Germany lags behind in European comparison – that is the diagnosis. A Hub for Sustainable Finance could give new impetus to positive development. The German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) and Deutsche Börse AG have been working since summer 2017 on jointly coordinating and developing their activities related to sustainability in the financial sector.
The joint activities of Deutsche Börse and the German Council for Sustainable Development are to be coordinated and developed further via a Steering Committee for the newly created Hub for Sustainable Finance (H4SF). Currently, the body comprises the members Prof. Dr Alexander Bassen, member of the German Council for Sustainable Development, Kristina Jeromin, Head of Group Sustainability at Deutsche Börse, Michael Schmidt, member of the Management Board at Deka Investment and member of the High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance of the European Commission, Dustin Neuneyer, Head of Continental Europe from PRI Principles for Responsible Investment, Dr Velibor Marjanovic from KfW as well as the Hesse Ministry of Economics, Energy, Transport and Regional Development. The activities of the Hub for Sustainable Finance will be shaped by ongoing discourse with the business sector and stakeholders from civil society.
As its first public event, the Hub will be holding the German Sustainable Finance Summit on 23 October in Frankfurt in the offices of the DVFA, the German Association of Financial Analysts and Asset Managers. At this summit, the main recommendations (here in German, too) from the members of the Steering Committee of the Hub for Sustainable Finance on sustainable finance in Germany will be discussed. They are derived from the content overlap between the interim report of the High Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance of the European Commission, the PRI Roadmap for Germany, the Living Document Sustainable Finance of the Council for Sustainable Development, the goals of the Accelerating Sustainable Finance Initiative of the Deutsche Börse and the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures of the Financial Stability Board. It is noteworthy that these initiatives all worked in parallel and published their content at the same time.
The path towards the Hub for Sustainable Finance
The first impetus for bringing new momentum to the debate on co-regulation processes for a sustainable financial sector in Germany came a few months ago from the RNE – initially under the key term “green finance”. This topic is one of the focus areas of the Council’s current work. Former Council member Achim Steiner, who has been Head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) since 19 June, and Council member Alexander Bassen, Professor of Capital Markets and Management at the University of Hamburg, had prepared a discussion paper together with Council Secretary General Bachmann as a “living document” and opened up discourse on the paper in a specialist panel. On 12 June 2017 the Council invited a range of experts to engage in an open dialogue on these first ideas and recommendations on the topic. Participating experts from the political arena, the financial sector and civil society comprised representatives of the federal environmental and finance ministries as well as the state of North-Rhine Westphalia, from banks and other financial institutions, consumer protection, impact investing and a variety of non-profit organisations with ties to the financial sector.
The living document had already been presented in March 2017 at the PAGE Conference, in the State Secretaries’ Committee on Sustainable Development and at the RNE’s annual conference, among others. A key proposition of this document was to establish in Germany a “Hub for Sustainable Finance”, through which the numerous and varied stakeholders could collaborate. “A key step on this path was the expert panel,” comments Alexander Bassen summarising the main results of the event.
The first task was to create a common basis for discussion, and the results from the panel served to more concretely specify and improve and amend the “living document”, define some of the issues more clearly and examine possible levers for taking the topic forward. The participants were united in their view that the many activities being pursued in parallel by various bodies needed to be coordinated so as to be able to tap into synergy effects and promote constructive dialogue.
Sustainable Finance Summit Germany, 23 Oct. 2017, Frankfurt a.M.
Statements on the living document
A hub for sustainable financing in Germany?
Discussion paper/living document by Alexander Bassen, Achim Steiner, Günther Bachmann, 2nd version, last updated: 29 June 2017
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German Council for Sustainable Development
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