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Online seminar – Decrypting Sustainable Finance

The latest online seminar by the Florence School of Banking and Finance, held on 2 April 2019 and co-organised with the Florence School of Regulation, discussed the topic of sustainable finance, particularly how finance can be used as a means to achieve social goals one can divert the planet and its economy from its current path to a world that is sustainable for all.

The main presentation of the seminar was delivered by professor Dirk Schoenmaker (Erasmus University Rotterdam), who documented how the financial sector can be mobilised to counter the misconception that finance is an obstacle to a better world in his book Principles of Sustainable Finance, co-authored with Willem Schramade and published in early 2019 by the Oxford University Press.

After describing the sustainability challenges, focusing particularly on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a strategy for a better world, Professor Schoenmaker explained how investors and bankers can steer funding to sustainable companies and projects without sacrificing return and thus speed up the transition to a sustainable economy. Particularly, he highlighted the elements guiding the transition from a corporate and societal view concentrated exclusively on the objective of maximising financial returns (‘Finance-as-usual’) to a view where this element is valued less than the combined impact of the economic activities on society and impact on the environment (‘Sustainable Finance 3.0’). Then, he explained how finance can contribute to swift(er) transition towards this scenario, highlighting the approaches that will allow to achieve SDGs.

The main presentation was followed by the intervention of a discussant, Kinanya Pijl, PhD Researcher in Law at the European University Institute. In her comment, based on her research on how commercial banks integrate social and environmental considerations in their practices (and how other actors can influence them), Kinanya highlighted the elements beyond the business case that are necessary to transition to Sustainable Finance 3.0, indicating the necessary consequent strategies.

The seminar and the following questions and answers session with the public was moderated by Jean-Michel Glachant, Director of the Florence School of Regulation and the Holder of the Loyola de Palacio Chair at the EUI’s Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies.

Download the presentation by Dirk Schoenmaker

Download the presentation by Kinanya Pijl