The Latest on ESG, Climate Finance and Responsible Investing in Ireland

2019, A busy year ahead for Sustainable Nation Ireland

2019 – a year that promises to be a significant one for Sustainable Nation Ireland and our work in transitioning Ireland to a low-carbon economy, at the heart of Europe.

The job of unlocking the trillions needed to meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is multi-faceted and complex.But this is not a lofty or unimaginable ambition – the incredible momentum achieved last year is already carrying into 2019 as the green and sustainable finance agenda gathers unstoppable pace and cut-through.

Last year saw a major €1m programme of activities and over 60 events – including our inaugural Climate Week of events in November. The staging of the EIT Climate-Kic Climate Innovation Summit in Dublin was a particular highlight along with the appearance of State Street Global Advisors’ ‘Fearless Girl’ as a potent symbol of leadership and solving challenges.

Planning for Climate Week for 2019 has already begun following the hugely positive feedback on last year’s event. Our team is already putting together an agenda, sponsors and more (please reach out to our Head of Marketing if you would like to input to this process).

Of course there are challenges, as outlined at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month by UN secretary-general António Guterres who said that climate change was the most important global systemic threat for the near future.

“Climate change is running faster than we are, and we have this paradox: the reality is proving to be worse than scientists had foreseen, and all the last indicators show that,” said Guterres.

That’s why the UN will hold a major summit on climate action in September with a welcome focus on finance, capital markets and innovation to mitigate and adapt to climate change. It takes place before the submission of the next round of national climate action plans in 2020.

In Ireland, the Government has taken firm steps to out this critical challenge at the heart of economic policy for this year and beyond – as it positions Ireland as a leader, not a follower in climate change. That ambition is underpinned by the €22 billion built into the National Development Plan to fund measures that will turn Ireland into a low-carbon economy by 2050.

I’m delighted that the Government has designated 2019 as Ireland’s Year of Sustainable Finance and asked Sustainable Nation Ireland to oversee a programme of events involving all of our stakeholders, with a particular focus on the capital markets.

We will continue this work as part of our wider remit, as mandated in the Government’s 2020 International Financial Services Strategy (IFS 2020) Action Plan for 2019.

We are very excited that the 4th European Financial Forum, hosted by the Financial Times and IDA, took place in Dublin on the 13th of February with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in attendance.

At this important gathering which brought together international and Irish industry executives, policy makers, regulators and thought leaders, Sustainable Nation Ireland  input into cutting edge analysis on the main business and regulatory issues that the financial services industry should consider in 2019 and beyond.

Together with Finance Green Ireland, we held a side session ‘Update on Europe’s action plan on Sustainable Finance and Ireland’s Response’ where Minister D’Arcy officially launched ‘Ireland’s Year of Sustainable Finance 2019’ followed by speeches by SIF Ireland Chairman Pat Cox, Sean Kidney (CEO of Climate Bonds Initiative) and an interesting panel discussion from Alzbeta Klein ( Director and Global Head of IFC’s Climate Business IFC World Bank) Paul Ryan (Department of Finance), Sean Kidney and moderated by Daniel Brooksbank (Editor in Chief at Responsible Investor.)

On a personal note, I am honoured to have been appointed to lead the UN Environment Financial Centres for Sustainability (FC4S) global network, whose European node will be based in Dublin. The support of the Department of Finance and both Minister Paschal Donohue and Minister Michael D’Arcy is appreciated.

So, there is much to do in 2019 – but plenty to look forward to. As ever, we are grateful to our committee members, private sector and public sector partners for your support, and I look forward to engaging with all of you in the year ahead!

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