Accepting responsibility – investing sustainably
Sustainable finance is becoming increasingly important. At the end of November 2018, an international conference entitled “Accepting responsibility – investing sustainably” was held in Vaduz.
Under the patronage of the associations of foreign banks of Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom and organised by the Liechtenstein Bankers Association, numerous high-calibre speakers and panellists from at home and abroad met in Liechtenstein. The topic was examined from the perspective of the banks and their role in financing more sustainable development in harmony with the climate goals of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. The event met with great interest and a very positive response. The many conference participants from Liechtenstein and abroad were able to gain the following insights after an intensive day at the conference and take those insights back to their everyday work:
- There is an urgent need for action. In light of this urgency and importance, a regulatory framework is called for. In particular, an internationally recognised taxonomy is necessary to create legal certainty and transparency. The regulatory package drawn up by the EU in May 2018 is an important step in the right direction.
- But not only policymakers must act. Without the proactive engagement of the financial industry as intermediaries, the 2-degree target of Paris and the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be financed. For banks, this not only means responsibility, but also great business opportunities – if a concerted effort is made to take advantage of them. Leadership from above is needed. Sustainability must not simply be a marketing instrument or greenwashing.
- It is crucial to focus not only on loan financing of projects. Balance-neutral transactions – i.e. asset and wealth management – are just as important and even have a greater leverage effect.
- Another important focus is basic and continuing training. For banks to play their important role in the best possible way, they have to invest even more in training and education in this field. Only competent employees can advise clients in such a way that they invest more in sustainable products.
- Sustainability is a cross-cutting topic affecting the entire value chain and all levels of hierarchy within a bank. Only if sustainability is integrated and put into practice across all areas can an institution act in a credible way.
- The ongoing digitalisation of the financial industry is playing an increasingly important role. Sustainability is the WHAT, while digitalisation and especially blockchain technology will in future heavily influence and facilitate the HOW.