Expansion of the Global Sustainable Finance Initiative

The Sustainable Finance Education Charter (SFEC), a leading global coalition in sustainable finance education, has released its third Annual Progress Report today. The report showcases the achievements of its 13 primarily UK-based, global professional organisations in incorporating sustainable finance principles and practices into their educational and training programmes for finance professionals and related roles throughout 2023. This release occurs amidst growing worldwide interest in capacity building as a crucial lever for unlocking the sustainable finance necessary to meet global sustainability objectives.

Highlights include:

  • More than 110,000 finance and supporting professionals trained in sustainable finance during the year;
  • Curated sustainable finance content viewed more than 600,000 times by finance professionals and others;
  • 16 new sustainable finance qualifications, modules and courses launched in 2023.

Professional bodies are crucial in providing external verification of learning, effectively combating the risk of “competence greenwashing.” This verification ensures that finance professionals acquire the necessary knowledge and skills, relevant to their roles, to incorporate climate change and sustainability considerations into their financial decision-making processes.

SFEC represents a pioneering collaboration between the UK’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), a broad spectrum of mainly UK-based global professional bodies, and the Green Finance Institute. It stands as the first global alliance to acknowledge the significance of capacity building in achieving both global and national net zero and sustainability targets, as well as in mobilising sustainable finance. Finance professionals are vital in crafting and adhering to relevant professional standards, norms, and cultures that support sustainability. They also assist clients and customers in managing sustainability risks and devising effective and viable transition strategies.

Following the introduction of major sustainability standards in 2023, including those set by the new International Standards Sustainability Board (ISSB) and the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), SFEC members have successfully integrated green and sustainable finance principles into their professional qualifications and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programmes. However, substantial efforts remain to fulfil our longer-term Charter commitments both in the UK and abroad. This report reaffirms our dedication to expanding SFEC membership, increasing the number of organisations backing the Charter, and inspiring other jurisdictions to adopt this innovative model for capacity building on a global scale.

Announcing the publication of the Sustainable Finance Education Charter’s 3rd Progress Report, Simon Thompson, Chief Executive of the Chartered Banker Institute and Chair of the Sustainable Finance Education Charter, said:
Our latest progress report demonstrates the leading role of professional bodies in building global capacity to align finance and sustainability.  If every professional financial decision is to take account of climate change and sustainability – the objective set for the finance sector at COP 26 – then every finance professional needs to develop the knowledge and skills required to apply the principles of sustainable finance in their daily practice.   
“We are delighted to see our global leadership on capacity building since 2020 now being picked up by policymakers and others to give greater urgency to this important aspect of aligning finance and sustainability.“
Helen Brand OBE, Chief Executive of ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), said:
“Accountants and other professionals have a central role in informing, driving and embedding sustainable business and approaches across all sectors. Upskilling is vital if we’re to meet the increasingly urgent challenges of climate change.

“We’re seeing increased demand for sustainability skills training and the adoption of sustainability reporting standards around the world, which is encouraging. But it’s only a start and we need to build more skills capacity and further sharpen our focus.”

Will Goodhart, CEO, CFA UK, added:
“Sustainable finance has moved from the margins to the mainstream as the scale and urgency of today’s multiple challenges becomes ever clearer. Professional bodies are delivering the skills, knowledge and behaviours that our sectors need to support the transition and the SFEC plays a vital role in that process – helping us to share and promote best practices and to engage with those setting the regulatory and policy context”.
Tracy Vegro OBE, Chief Executive, CISI (the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment) further added that:
“The SFEC is a world-class orchestra of all the financial talents, blending the skills and knowledge of professionals across our industry to tackle some of the greatest challenges, and opportunities, of our time, in the climate challenge, in natural capital and biodiversity, in pollution. By helping provide the right finance in the right place at the right time, and at scale, financial institutions, working alongside professional bodies and other educators, and with the added power of AI, are central to the efforts to deliver a just transition to net zero.”

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