Sustainability & Environmentalism Can Also be Profitable?

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Recalibrating the financial system and project financing may be critical to evolving public and private sector options that give priority and opportunity for profit to environmental and sustainability sound opportunities. The flow of financial resources is critical to the selection of what types of projects prevail, particularly in the developing economies. As the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) organ stresses: There is “the need to speed the transition to an inclusive sustainable economy, which requires the channeling of trillions of dollars annually into green investment and many more trillions away from pollutant and natural resource intensive investment.” A multi-year effort is now to report on the above priority bringing together money sources, from central banks to financiers.
The effort titled “Designing a Sustainable Financial System” has delivered some preliminary conclusions:
“Meeting this challenge requires the mobilisation of large amounts of private capital. China, for example, with one of the world’s strongest fiscal positions, estimates that less than 20% of its incremental green financing needs of US$350 billion dollars annually can be met through the use of public revenues. Yet today’s financial systems, including the banks and pension funds, are increasingly financing environmentally damaging investments and inadequate green investments.

The Inquiry’s analytic work and engagement has focused on actions taken by central bankers, financial regulators and ministries of finance at the country level, as well as the actions of market actors, such as bankers or institutional investors. The Inquiry has analysed the financial systems of Bangladesh, Colombia, Indonesia and Kenya, as well as Brazil, China, India and South Africa, and leading countries across the OECD including those with major financial centres, such as the UK and the US.

In a marked break with the past, the initial findings of the Inquiry highlight the leading role played by developing nations in this crucial reshaping of the world’s financial systems, notably those with major economies and rapidly developing financial and capital markets, for example:


  • Brazil’s Central Bank has established environmental risk management requirements for banks, and is working with market actors in establishing how environmental lender liability might improve both environmental outcomes to Brazil and financial returns to banks.
  • China’s People’s Bank of China has established a Green Finance Task Force, co-convened with the UNEP Inquiry, and has collaborated with dozens of public agencies and market actors to develop 14 sets of proposals for enhancing green financing through policy, regulatory and market innovations.
  • Indonesia’s Financial Services Authority (OJK) has delivered the world’s first ten year Roadmap for Sustainable Finance.
  • South Africa’s stock exchange has led globally in requiring listed companies to report on their sustainability performance and the country’s pension fund legislation has led the way in requiring pension fund trustees to take sustainability factors into account while making investment decisions on behalf of intended beneficiaries.
  • Kenya has the world’s highest penetration of bankless payment transactions, which has allowed it to achieve the most rapid increase of financial inclusion ever recorded, globally.
  • The UK’s Bank of England is the first central bank to initiate a prudential review to explore whether climate change poses a systemic risk to parts of the UK’s financial sector.

– See more at: United Nations Environment Programme 

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