The Sustainable Banking and Finance Network’s 7thGlobal Meeting successfully concluded this week on a high note with strong visions and clear requests for the next 5 years from SBFN members and the broader sustainable finance community to move the agenda forward to effective implementation of policy frameworks, requiring the mobilization of all actors of the financial system.
IFC’s Managing Director Makhtar Diop gave opening remarks, and a keynote address was delivered by H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA).
The Global Meeting featured 32 speakers from 23 organizations, including SBFN member institutions, international partners, and IFC/World Bank experts. A total of more than 500 participants from over 100 countries joined the event over 3 days from April 26 to 28.
SBFN’s 10th anniversary provided the perfect milestone to reflect on the Network’s pioneering work thus far, which resulted in more than 200 policy reforms and voluntary industry commitments, and to capture perspectives on the road ahead. Members and partners confirmed SBFN’s critical role as the leading global community dedicated to supporting financial sector regulators and industry associations from emerging markets on sustainable finance, and called for a broadening of dialogue across all parts of the financial sector.
Throughout the week, a consensus emerged on the need to introduce a human-centered approach to the social impacts of climate change and links with financial inclusion, and to broaden the work on sustainable finance instruments to fully address the SDGs and meet growing investor demand for opportunities in emerging markets.
Continue reading for highlights from the 3 days of this year’s Global Meeting. Recordings of the sessions will be made available on SBFN’s website (www.sbfnetwork.org).
Day 1: UNSGSA Queen Máxima and IFC Managing Director Makhtar Diop open the 7th SBFN Global Meeting
To open the Global Meeting and mark the 10-year anniversary of the Network, the SBFN community was honored to welcome as Keynote Speaker H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), introduced by IFC’s Managing Director, Makhtar Diop. UNSGSA Queen Máxima encouraged SBFN members to advance on an inclusive green finance agenda with a focus on the individual and household level.
The opening panel discussion, Shaping the Frontier of Sustainable Finance in Emerging Markets, was moderated by SBFN Chair, Alfonso Garcia Mora, and featured high-level speakers from financial sector regulators, the pension sector, and multilateral agencies. Panelists addressed the ways to operationalize national sustainable finance frameworks to create investments that help solve environmental and social challenges. The importance of ongoing capacity building and the need for taxonomies to provide common definitions of ‘green’ and ‘inclusive’ activities were discussed.
The second panel of the day featured the three co-chairs of the SBFN Measurement Working Group – each sharing their perspectives on how the SBFN Measurement Framework offers a powerful roadmap for countries to use when they design their national approaches to sustainable finance. Data and disclosure requirements were highlighted as critical for achieving measurable change across the financial sector. The discussion also looked ahead, with panelists identifying the next big themes SBFN should address, including climate risks, biodiversity loss and nature-related risks, gender equality, and the just transition.
Emmanuel Nyirinkindi, IFC Vice-President for Cross-Cutting Solutions, closed the first day by highlighting the value of SBFN as a community of like-minded organizations leading on national policy reforms to enable sustainable lending and investments to promote greater global development impact. He emphasized the value that IFC places on its partnership with SBFN, and the shared passion for sustainable finance that drives collaboration among IFC, the World Bank Group, and SBFN members.
Day 2: Taxonomies and disclosure lead the way as tools to create markets for green and inclusive finance and build investor confidence
Day two began with a deep-dive into how SBFN members are creating markets for sustainable finance instruments, with a special focus on taxonomies. Speakers highlighted the value of taxonomies to provide clarity on green activities when reporting on capital flows and risk management, and to strengthen the confidence of local and international investors. The panelists stressed the importance of involving and building the capacity of all actors of the financial system for increased investment towards the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During the session, the Sri Lanka Central Bank announced the upcoming launch of its Green Finance Taxonomy and shared its journey.
The second session explored how SBFN members are strengthening disclosure frameworks to scale sustainable finance, such as by embedding taxonomy-aligned disclosures and helping banks implement the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). The panelists encouraged SBFN members to build on the established foundation of international disclosure initiatives that already exist, and adopt a phased approach and capacity building to help financial institutions and the private sector adapt to new expectations, particularly small and medium size enterprises (SMEs). The panel called on SBFN to develop guidance and a catalog of options to help members design national disclosure frameworks.
The third panel of the day focused on the practical application of the themes discussed over the first two days of the Global Meeting, through the lens of low-income countries. The panelists called for better consideration of the human dimension of the impacts of climate change, including at the household level. The panel discussion and closing remarks by Jean Pesme, Global Director for Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation at the World Bank, emphasized that ensuring voices and priorities from emerging markets should be reflected in international disclosure frameworks.
Day 3: International networks, partners, and SBFN Chair call for collective action to translate sustainable finance frameworks into action, support innovation for new instruments, and build investment pipelines
The final panel discussion of this year’s Global Meeting focused on the need for international networks and partners to work together to support emerging markets in translating sustainable finance policies into investments in green and inclusive projects. The panelists shared experiences from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS), the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative (UNSSE), the Equator Principles Association (EPA), the International Capital Market Association (ICMA), and IFC in developing sustainable finance markets. They collectively agreed that nothing is possible without strong partnerships between the public and private sectors and at regional and global levels. Panelists emphasized the importance of building capacity and creating pipelines of sustainable investments across emerging markets. They also highlighted emerging themes to address – echoing previous sessions – such as biodiversity and nature-based solutions, gender, financial inclusion, and ensuring a just transition to low-carbon economies.
To close the Global Meeting, SBFN Chair Alfonso Garcia Mora reflected on the past three days of discussion and shared his vision for the Network moving forward. He highlighted the critical role of the financial sector to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), guided by regulatory action; and the current opportunity to move from policy development to implementation, leveraging convergence and peer-to-peer learning. He noted the calls from various panelists to address climate change in a socially inclusive manner and move towards consistent data and disclosure requirements to create markets for sustainable finance and measure success. Mr. Garcia Mora concluded with a call to action for SBFN members and the broader sustainable finance ecosystem by quoting Henri Bergson: “The future is not what will happen to us, but what we will do.”