The Future Is Sustainable Finance

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2020 saw a flurry of announcements from companies across the world, pledging ambitious, and often aggressive, carbon targets.

From Microsoft’s carbon negative goal to BlackRock’s pledge to stop investing in companies with high sustainability-related risks, organisations are becoming increasingly accountable for their actions when it comes to the environment and climate change.

A recent study into the sustainability attitudes and actions of senior executives found that 75% of executives believe sustainability will provide a competitive advantage in the future, yet only 30% believe they are successful today. Of course, setting and publicising goals is only the first step. To become a true leader in sustainability transformation, it must be embedded in every part of the business, especially the finance department.

Only one in 25 (4%) of Chief Financial Officers currently have responsibility for developing and monitoring corporate sustainability goals, according to ENGIE Impact’s study. Instead, executives pointed to Chief Sustainability Officers (26%) and Chief Operation Officers (25%) as bearers of that responsibility. This finding points to a missed opportunity to ensure that the strategy, funding, and execution of sustainability projects are optimised to meet an organisation’s goals. Given that capital and investment is critical to the success of corporate sustainability initiatives, as underscored by finance authorities such as the Bank of England, the question for CFOs and their teams is “How can we position finance as a lever to make sustainability happen?”.

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