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An additional 180 billion euros annually must be invested in buildings, transport, renewable energies, energy efficiency and much more, estimates the European Commission. To fill the gap, more private capital is urgently needed, concludes the 20-strong group of experts – and lays out on 100 pages of recommendations which regulations need to be changed to achieve this. Not only in order to achieve the Paris targets, but also for implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. “The report is the most comprehensive document ever written on the subject of sustainable finance,” comments Michael Schmidt, member of the Management Board at Deka Investment and one of the experts of the High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance (HLEG). This panel is made up of representatives of banks, universities, insurers, funds and stock exchanges as well as NGOs like WWF, think tanks like the 2° Investing Initiative, the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) or Third Generation Environmentalism (E3G). “Europe now has the unique opportunity to build the world’s most sustainable financial system,” says the report, which states clearly early on: there is no single lever with which we can reorient the entire financial system. “We have developed an overall concept. The individual recommendations dovetail closely with one another, and that should definitely be taken into account when implementing them,” explains Schmidt. Moreover, implementation requires synchronisation with the real economy and especially with politics. “We need to finally agree on a sensible price for carbon emissions,” adds Schmidt. Classification of what constitutes sustainable investment Specifically, the report makes a total of 24 suggestions for measures: eight core recommendations, eight cross-sector measures and eight concrete measures, for instance for pension funds or banks. Among the core recommendations is that a clear Europe-wide definition of which investments can at all be labelled as “sustainable” is needed. Such a classification would need to be applicable to all types of investment – from project financing to bonds and equity. It has to be dynamic in that it adjusts to ongoing developments in scientific insight and could be designed to build on pre-existing standards. A matrix has already been developed by the experts: it links various sectors, such as energy, transport, forestry or healthcare, with the global sustainable development goals like access to clean water or reduction of waste. Another core recommendation relates to requiring investors to disclose how they take sustainability into account in their investment decisions. Pension funds in the EU are already required to report on if they include ecological and social aspects in their risk management. However, they are not required to disclose how they apply the ESG criteria (environment, social and governance) concretely to their investment decisions. Further, the report argues in favour of EU labels for green investment funds and green bonds. In particular, the latter would make it easier for ecologically minded companies to raise funding. The experts also see a much more active role for the authorities at EU level that are tasked with financial market oversight. The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and the European Banking Authority, for instance, should more closely supervise the long-term risks for the financial system that are associated with climate change. The “tragedy of the horizon” A central idea behind the cross-sector measures is the “tragedy of the horizon”, or rather of the mismatched horizon, in the financial sector: investments in sustainability – education, infrastructure, energy – do not yield good results until years or even decades later and thus are not attractive to many fast and speculative financial market players. “Short-termism”, as people sometimes call this type of thinking, is a clear obstacle to more sustainable finance. And the experts do not see a fast solution. They suggest that in a first step the regulations be evaluated with a view to determining which of them promote short-term profit generation. In other areas, the experts express considerably more concrete views – with respect to ratings agencies, for instance: quite simply, they should incorporate ESG criteria into their ratings and disclose their methods of doing so publicly. This also includes educating their staff on topics related to sustainability. Marlehn Thieme, Chairwoman of the German Council for Sustainable Development, describes the report of the HLEG as ambitious. “It is very good because it shows clearly how the future of the financial markets can be oriented. And it shows through its orientation towards practical application that sustainable financial markets are possible,” Thieme comments. “However, it fails to set out a synopsis of various policy areas. With regard to European budget, tax and economic policy, we need a coherent regulatory structure that enables the use of market economy tools.” The Council Chairwoman also points to the key role of the companies themselves. “If we are to make the finance sector sustainable, we need both banks and insurers as well as the companies.” Overall, the report only concerns itself with making recommendations. On 20 February, the EU Finance Ministers will be reviewing the report and in March, the European Commission will present its action plan on sustainable finance, which is to incorporate the experts’ recommendations. A major conference of experts on the topic is scheduled to be held in Brussels on 22 March. The High-Level Expert Group recommends that a working group at EU level be established this year so that it can develop by 2020 an EU classification system for sustainable investments. “Implementation of our report is now in the hands of the EU and the various financial market players,” comments Schmidt. What comes next Council Chairwoman Marlehn Thieme: “Sustainable finance is not mentioned anywhere in the federal government’s coalition agreement. However, as the HLEG report is only a recommendation, political support is needed. The new government must work to promote implementation at EU level of well-designed carbon regulation processes on behalf of sustainable finance and the real economy.” In Germany, the ten recommendations of the Hub for Sustainable Finance have also taken up some of the recommendations of the HLEG report. This open network of financial market players and other stakeholders was initiated in the summer of 2017 by the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) and Deutsche Börse. Following a first summit in October 2017 in Frankfurt, the various actors are now called on to make contributions that help promote a sustainable financial system in Germany and establish the topic in mainstream capital market activities. A dedicated project website is currently in the process of being created; until it is completed, the latest information is available at www.h4sf.de. On 22 February, a conference on sustainable finance will be held in Berlin, organised by the Hub together with the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW). The main topic of the conference will be the HLEG report. The conference is, however, already fully booked up." ["post_title"]=> string(68) "EU expert group outlines ways forward for reorienting finance sector" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(314) "At the request of the European Commission, a group of experts has been working for over a year on a catalogue of recommendations on how regulations for financial markets can be changed – to make them more secure and see to it that they support rather than hinder sustainable development. These are their results." ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(68) "eu-expert-group-outlines-ways-forward-for-reorienting-finance-sector" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2018-04-11 16:41:17" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-04-11 14:41:17" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(105) "https://www.nachhaltigkeitsrat.de/aktuelles/eu-expertengruppe-zeigt-wege-zu-einer-neuen-finanzwirtschaft/" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [1]=> object(WP_Post)#2677 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(8279) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "5" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2017-10-06 10:42:36" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-10-06 08:42:36" ["post_content"]=> string(8569) "Environmental and climate protection, fair pay throughout the supply chain, respect for human rights in production countries: ecological and social criteria are already part of decision-making processes for many business professionals and financial backers. On the financial markets, however, the topic still does not carry much significance, For example the volume of assets under management currently listed on the sustainability index of Deutsche Börse totals just 12.5 million euros. How can we promote the development of sustainable finance? To take on this challenge, Deutsche Börse AG and the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) have joined forces in strategic collaboration. Starting immediately, the Hub for Sustainable Finance (H4SF) will be a place of discussion and forward-looking ideation, in particular aimed at cultivating discourse between the business sector, the financial market and societal stakeholders. “In Germany especially, the role of the capital market from a sustainability perspective has not yet been given enough consideration,” comments Council member Alexander Bassen, professor at the University of Hamburg for business management and capital markets studies and member of the H4SF Steering Committee. In his view, the actors themselves on these markets have an important lever at their disposal. Together with other members of the Steering Committee of the Hub for Sustainable Finance, Bassen has now prepared ten recommendations for sustainable finance, which the Steering Committee presented in Berlin on 27 September. The paper was based on 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 by the Council for Sustainable Development, which the Council has been updating since March, the goals of the Accelerating Sustainable Finance Initiative of Deutsche Börse and the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures of the Financial Stability Board. Federal government should facilitate and call for sustainable investment In the view of the experts, the time has come for policymakers to make good on their obligation. They have an important role to play in generating formative impulses, and as the paper states early on, the government has not fulfilled this role sufficiently. In the opinion of the authors, the financial sector and its due responsibility are under-represented in the German Sustainable Development Strategy. Vice versa, on the part of financial market stakeholders, a sector-specific discussion of their contribution to achieving sustainable development goals is also said to be lacking. Bassen calls on the future federal government to embed the topic in the Sustainable Development Strategy. This would bolster productive exchange between the capital market and politics, in the Council member’s opinion. The political framework for a more sustainable financial system plays a decisive role. This was emphasised as well by Kristina Jeromin, Head of Group Sustainability of Deutsche Börse. “Sustainable finance is increasingly moving into the public’s frame of awareness. But if we take a look at the reality, such investing is unfortunately very far from being daily practice,” explains Jeromin. Sustainable products and services are certainly valuable and a good thing. “But the market also has to use them.” In the Hub for Sustainable Finance, concrete tools are to be developed as well as examining and promoting aspects of regulation and coordination of policymaking and the business sector. “The fundamental understanding of sustainability aspects as important indicators for risks must evolve to see that they also offer business models opportunities,” adds Jeromin. “These aren’t obstacles to market access, but rather should be natural components of entrepreneurship and investment strategy.” Sustainability criteria not hindrance for investment Steering Committee member Michael Schmidt also sees this push and the recommendations for action as very necessary. Schmidt is an expert on finance, Managing Director of Deka Investment and member of the High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance of the European Commission. In EU comparison in particular, Germany lags behind its peers with respect to the topic of sustainable finance, explains Schmidt. While nations like the United Kingdom or France have numerous representatives that participate in the European Commission’s group of experts, Schmidt is the only representative from Germany. “Too many financial market players still see sustainability criteria as a constraint on achieving their goals – entirely without justification,” says Schmidt. Rather, it both yields returns and is part of the fiduciary duty to take sustainability into account explicitly and systematically in the so-called magic triangle of returns, risk and liquidity. With the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the world community has committed itself to fighting poverty, protecting the environment and placing sustainability aspects squarely in the focus of all areas of life and all decision-making. For Dustin Neuneyer, Head of Continental Europe of PRI Principles for Responsible Investment, the primary question is whether or not the financial sector can implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – even in Germany. In the past 11 years, more than 1,800 supporters have signed the PRI Initiative, a project originally initiated by the United Nations, meaning around half of the worldwide monies available are covered. At the same time, however, this does not mean that half of all investing is carried out in line with sustainability criteria. Neuneyer confirms as well that Germany is still “underdeveloped” when it comes to sustainable finance. That is in part a result of the German penchant for thoroughness. “People want a solution that’s 100% perfect,” says Neuneyer. “But the world is complex and you have to have the courage to get started and accept partial solutions.” Debate on advancing sustainable finance agenda There is truly no lack of examples that illustrate just how urgently engagement on the part of lenders and companies is needed in order to advance sustainable business practice. The diesel scandal with its falsified emissions reports is one and the 2010 fire on the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform is another. The resulting oil spill had devastating consequences for the ocean’s ecosystem. What should the next step be following these ten recommendations for sustainable finance? What groundwork needs to first be laid? The members of the Hub for Sustainable Finance will be discussing their ideas further on 23 October. At the German Sustainable Finance Summit in Frankfurt, representatives of politics, business and finance experts, investors and scientists will come together. The event is being held under the aegis of the German Federal Ministry of Finance. The Secretary of Commerce of the state of Hesse, Tarek Al-Wazir, will be in attendance to welcome the guests with the opening words. The aim of the event is to highlight the most important aspects for the agenda for sustainable finance in Germany and to generate awareness of it among policymakers. Due to the high degree of interest, the event is already fully booked up. A live stream of the event will be available on 23.10.17 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for all interested parties at www.h4sf.de." ["post_title"]=> string(45) "How to advance sustainable finance in Germany" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(348) "Sustainability criteria do not yet receive enough consideration from investors, companies or lenders. The RNE, Deutsche Börse AG and the financial experts on the Steering Committee of the Hub for Sustainable Finance have presented ten recommendations for a more sustainable financial system. The future federal government, too, has a role to play." 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An additional 180 billion euros annually must be invested in buildings, transport, renewable energies, energy efficiency and much more, estimates the European Commission. To fill the gap, more private capital is urgently needed, concludes the 20-strong group of experts – and lays out on 100 pages of recommendations which regulations need to be changed to achieve this. Not only in order to achieve the Paris targets, but also for implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. “The report is the most comprehensive document ever written on the subject of sustainable finance,” comments Michael Schmidt, member of the Management Board at Deka Investment and one of the experts of the High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance (HLEG). This panel is made up of representatives of banks, universities, insurers, funds and stock exchanges as well as NGOs like WWF, think tanks like the 2° Investing Initiative, the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) or Third Generation Environmentalism (E3G). “Europe now has the unique opportunity to build the world’s most sustainable financial system,” says the report, which states clearly early on: there is no single lever with which we can reorient the entire financial system. “We have developed an overall concept. The individual recommendations dovetail closely with one another, and that should definitely be taken into account when implementing them,” explains Schmidt. Moreover, implementation requires synchronisation with the real economy and especially with politics. “We need to finally agree on a sensible price for carbon emissions,” adds Schmidt. Classification of what constitutes sustainable investment Specifically, the report makes a total of 24 suggestions for measures: eight core recommendations, eight cross-sector measures and eight concrete measures, for instance for pension funds or banks. Among the core recommendations is that a clear Europe-wide definition of which investments can at all be labelled as “sustainable” is needed. Such a classification would need to be applicable to all types of investment – from project financing to bonds and equity. It has to be dynamic in that it adjusts to ongoing developments in scientific insight and could be designed to build on pre-existing standards. A matrix has already been developed by the experts: it links various sectors, such as energy, transport, forestry or healthcare, with the global sustainable development goals like access to clean water or reduction of waste. Another core recommendation relates to requiring investors to disclose how they take sustainability into account in their investment decisions. Pension funds in the EU are already required to report on if they include ecological and social aspects in their risk management. However, they are not required to disclose how they apply the ESG criteria (environment, social and governance) concretely to their investment decisions. Further, the report argues in favour of EU labels for green investment funds and green bonds. In particular, the latter would make it easier for ecologically minded companies to raise funding. The experts also see a much more active role for the authorities at EU level that are tasked with financial market oversight. The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and the European Banking Authority, for instance, should more closely supervise the long-term risks for the financial system that are associated with climate change. The “tragedy of the horizon” A central idea behind the cross-sector measures is the “tragedy of the horizon”, or rather of the mismatched horizon, in the financial sector: investments in sustainability – education, infrastructure, energy – do not yield good results until years or even decades later and thus are not attractive to many fast and speculative financial market players. “Short-termism”, as people sometimes call this type of thinking, is a clear obstacle to more sustainable finance. And the experts do not see a fast solution. They suggest that in a first step the regulations be evaluated with a view to determining which of them promote short-term profit generation. In other areas, the experts express considerably more concrete views – with respect to ratings agencies, for instance: quite simply, they should incorporate ESG criteria into their ratings and disclose their methods of doing so publicly. This also includes educating their staff on topics related to sustainability. Marlehn Thieme, Chairwoman of the German Council for Sustainable Development, describes the report of the HLEG as ambitious. “It is very good because it shows clearly how the future of the financial markets can be oriented. And it shows through its orientation towards practical application that sustainable financial markets are possible,” Thieme comments. “However, it fails to set out a synopsis of various policy areas. With regard to European budget, tax and economic policy, we need a coherent regulatory structure that enables the use of market economy tools.” The Council Chairwoman also points to the key role of the companies themselves. “If we are to make the finance sector sustainable, we need both banks and insurers as well as the companies.” Overall, the report only concerns itself with making recommendations. On 20 February, the EU Finance Ministers will be reviewing the report and in March, the European Commission will present its action plan on sustainable finance, which is to incorporate the experts’ recommendations. A major conference of experts on the topic is scheduled to be held in Brussels on 22 March. The High-Level Expert Group recommends that a working group at EU level be established this year so that it can develop by 2020 an EU classification system for sustainable investments. “Implementation of our report is now in the hands of the EU and the various financial market players,” comments Schmidt. What comes next Council Chairwoman Marlehn Thieme: “Sustainable finance is not mentioned anywhere in the federal government’s coalition agreement. However, as the HLEG report is only a recommendation, political support is needed. The new government must work to promote implementation at EU level of well-designed carbon regulation processes on behalf of sustainable finance and the real economy.” In Germany, the ten recommendations of the Hub for Sustainable Finance have also taken up some of the recommendations of the HLEG report. This open network of financial market players and other stakeholders was initiated in the summer of 2017 by the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) and Deutsche Börse. Following a first summit in October 2017 in Frankfurt, the various actors are now called on to make contributions that help promote a sustainable financial system in Germany and establish the topic in mainstream capital market activities. A dedicated project website is currently in the process of being created; until it is completed, the latest information is available at www.h4sf.de. On 22 February, a conference on sustainable finance will be held in Berlin, organised by the Hub together with the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW). The main topic of the conference will be the HLEG report. The conference is, however, already fully booked up." ["post_title"]=> string(68) "EU expert group outlines ways forward for reorienting finance sector" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(314) "At the request of the European Commission, a group of experts has been working for over a year on a catalogue of recommendations on how regulations for financial markets can be changed – to make them more secure and see to it that they support rather than hinder sustainable development. These are their results." 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