Guernsey has been a long standing member of the United Nations Financial Centres for Sustainability network since 2018. The UN FC4S sits in within the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which is the largest UN agency, with offices in 170 countries, and contributes to global leadership groups such as the G20, the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action and UNDP Sustainable Finance Hub.
The 2023 AGM was hosted by Casablanca Finance City and all FC4S members, including Guernsey, met to share our individual learning from the last year and to establish how the members can work together to tackle sustainable finance issues and opportunities of the future.
Some key takeaways from the meeting included;
Impacts of Climate Change
With a core pillar of COP27 focusing on adaption finance, it was powerful to hear all countries describing their personal and increasing experiences of climate change and extreme weather events. We heard stories of unprecedented flooding, heatwaves, supply chain shortages, energy crises and damage from all members. It is clear that the impacts of climate change are already happening. While developing nations are certainly feeling the majority of these shocks (particularly when considering how little these nations are actually contributing to climate change), the effects are also being felt in developed nations such as the Americas and Europe.
Africa – The continent of opportunity
The AGM for the UN FC4S was hosted by Casablanca Finance City, which described Africa as the "Continent of Opportunity" particularly for sustainable finance. The urgency and scale of ambition coming from some of the Africa members such as Lagos and Casablanca was inspiring.
Again, with COP27 being hosted in Africa, the meeting showed that globally we need to recognise the need for adaption financing for developing nations, but also to understand the opportunity that exists for private sector involvement in developing economies.
Natural Capital, Biodiversity and Nature was recognised by the network as a core pillar of the UN FC4S work. The understanding and interest in nature has grown exponentially, and Mark Halle, Senior Adviser to the UN FC4S, described the current state of play as the "goldrush" stage of nature developments, with enormous opportunities for first movers in this arena.
Globally, we now need greater organisation around nature standards, regulations etc, and it's heartening to see Guernsey taking serious steps to address this through the development of the Natural Capital Fund regime, and the GFSC's joining the Taskforce Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD).
Voluntary Carbon Markets
Several members of the UN FC4S network described their progress in developing VCMs, with the general consensus being that VCMs can be an impactful way to facilitate international collaboration and investment into projects. VCMs can especially help support developing nations who are trying to protect their natural resources but also in enabling countries and companies to meet their net zero ambitions.
Several members encouraged greater thought into the integration of "S" factors into sustainability considerations and considering the "Just" element of the transition to net zero. However, some members raised the view that as climate change and the environment are the greatest social issues of our time, instead a holistic approach to all ESG factors should be taken for ESG, rather than siloed thinking of E, S and G.
Capacity development, education and upskilling are all pivotal to the development of sustainable finance. There is still a huge knowledge gap within sustainability and this adds to the risk of greenwashing. Further, it increases the risk that globally, we are not prepared to meet our net zero aims and objectives. This education needs to be across all levels of finance, policy development and regulation.
Guernsey was recognised by the UN FC4S Annual Assessment Programme results as scoring above average in professional development and education, and we have been fortunate to have a forward thinking and proactive industry and financial regulator in upskilling our workforce.
Annual Assessment Programme
The UN FC4S's flagship work has been through the development of the Annual Assessment Programme, which Guernsey was delighted to support the funding for in 2021. All members recognised the huge challenge in gathering the necessary data to report effectively, but most importantly saw the value in having an independent assessment of their centres' strengths and opportunities for development in sustainable finance.
For Guernsey, we have used the programme results to connect with financial institutions and to galvanise our highest levels of government and industry to the cause of sustainability. There is also a huge opportunity to knowledge share with members on ways to improve our centres work in sustainability.
Global collaboration and knowledge sharing
The joy of working in sustainable finance is the unity between collaborators and the mutual understanding that we are all working towards a common goal. Working with the FC4S enables an open platform to share knowledge and establish global good practices. There is so much enthusiasm to bring about change, and we are grateful to be part of a network such as the FC4S.
A huge thank you to the Stephen Nolan and Mark Halle for putting together this programme, and to Lamia Merzouki and the Casablanca Finance City team for hosting us.
For more information about Guernsey's finance industry please visit www.weareguernsey.com.
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