UN Environment Inquiry quarterly update: October-December 2017

Or last e-alert of 2017 brings you news on the various events and activities that the Inquiry and its partners have worked on this past quarter, as the momentum for sustainable finance accelerated. Here are the highlights.


Bloomberg Philanthropies, the European Banking Federation (EBF), the Institute of International Finance (IIF), the Paulson Institute, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) and UN Environment co-hosted a roundtable for market and policy leaders in Washington, D.C. on 12 October 2017. The goal of the event, the fourth in the series, was to examine the lessons of developing and implementing green finance initiatives over the last few years while also highlighting successful examples and opportunities, particularly from China and of green digital finance. More information here.

The GreenInvest platform published Green Foreign Direct Investment in Developing Countries. The paper focuses on the actual and potential role of foreign direct investment (FDI) in achieving the transition to a low-carbon, just and sustainable world and, more specifically, FDI flows into developing countries. It also suggests approaches for coordinated action at the national, international and market level.


At the Sustainable Insurance Forum (SIF) meeting in Kuala Lumpur, over 10 insurance regulators reviewed the first draft of a document, to be released in 2018, that sets out why climate change is a material issue for supervisors and that will lay the groundwork for the development of practical tools and training materials for supervisors to encourage improvements in the ways insurance firms consider and disclose information about climate risks. More information here.


UN Environment and the World Bank Group launched the Roadmap for a Sustainable Financial System during COP23 in Bonn. The Roadmap sets out how to create a financial system that integrates sustainability considerations into its operations, leading to resources flowing toward more inclusive and sustainable activities. It proposes an integrated approach that can be used by all financial sector stakeholders, bringing policy cohesiveness across ministries, central banks, financial regulators, and private financial sector participants. It also lays out a timetable of these steps, including in the areas of products, information and technology; business models, capabilities and incentives; national public policy actions and roadmaps; global coordination principles; and results measurement.

The Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA), in partnership with the UN Environment Inquiry, launched has launched a report titled the Collaborative Initiative for Green Finance in Singapore: Singapore as a Green Finance Hub for ASEAN and Asia at the G20 Green Finance Conference Singapore. The report is a major outcome of a five-month long engagement of the financial sector to establish the baseline for the country’s current level of understanding of green finance, outlining the opportunities and possibilities, and consolidating recommendations to develop a shared vision on how to move green finance forward.


Still in Singapore, the Inquiry and financial services group DBS released Green Finance Opportunities in ASEAN, which finds that US$3 trillion in green investment is needed between 2016 and 2030. This represents a new ASEAN green investment market 37 times the size of the global 2016 green bond market. The report lays out ways in which the ASEAN region can unlock this investment, provides an analysis of green investment opportunities from 2016 to 2030, assesses the characteristics of those opportunities, and estimates current green finance flows. Based on a literature review and expert interviews, it also lays out some of the barriers to scaling up ASEAN green finance and how to address them.


China has firmly established itself as a global leader on green finance. The launch of Establishing China’s Green Financial System: Progress Report, co-authored by the International Institute of Green Finance (IIGF) of the Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE) and the UN Environment Inquiry marked its first in-depth assessment of green finance progress. The report finds that China – which put green finance on the G20 agenda during its 2016 presidency – is following through on its political commitment to boost the financing required to do this. The report looks particularly at progress since the State Council in August 2016 approved a set of recommendations for action on greening China’s financial system.

In partnership with UN Environment, Morocco’s insurance regulator ACAPS held the first-ever Morocco Sustainable Insurance Day in Rabat on 6 December. This event brought together the CEOs of leading Moroccan insurance companies, the national insurance association and Moroccan government ministries to accelerate sustainable insurance in Morocco, and implement Morocco’s national sustainable finance roadmap into the insurance sector.

On the occasion of the One Planet Summit, UN Environment and UN Climate Change partnered to produce a short video demonstrating how the financial system can be reset to achieve a stable climate. The “quiet revolution” revolution’ identified by the Inquiry in its 2015 report The Financial System We Need is indeed under way!

The United Climate Strategy & Partners and the UN Environment Inquiry launched Green Tagging: Mobilizing Bank Finance for Energy Efficiently in Real Estate. The report, which was launched at a high-level event in Paris hosted by the Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group, co-convened by the European Commission and the United Nations Environment Programme – Finance Initiative, found that green tagging around real estate and energy efficiency is growing at a critical time.

Five new cities
– Frankfurt, Geneva, Shenzhen, Toronto and Zurich – have joined the International Network of Financial Centres for Sustainability. The founding members of the Network – convened by UN Environment and launched in Casablanca on 28 September 2017 – including Astana, Casablanca, Dublin, Hong Kong, London, Luxembourg, Milan, Paris, Qatar, Shanghai and Stockholm, have all committed to harnessing their financial expertise to drive action on climate change and sustainable development. The Inquiry released Accelerating Financial Centre Action on Sustainable Development that states that more than 20 financial centres are now active in green and sustainable finance on the margins of the One Planet Summit.

Nigeria has become the first African nation to issue a sovereign green bond, and the fourth internationally. In what will be another record year for green bonds, the largest African economy and most populous country on the continent has issued a 5-year NGN10.7 billion (US$30 million) note. The tranche is the first in what is anticipated to be a NGN150 billion (US$420 million) programme. The proceeds will be used to fund projects in the 2017 national budget, which include renewable energy and afforestation activities.