Continued Expansion of the Global Sustainable Finance Education Initiative

Today, the Sustainable Finance Education Charter (SFEC), the foremost coalition for sustainable finance capacity building, released its third Annual Progress Report. The document outlines the contributions of its 13 primarily UK-based, international professional organisations in 2023, aimed at integrating sustainable finance principles and practices into the educational frameworks for finance professionals and associated fields globally. The publication coincides with a heightened international focus on the critical role of capacity building in securing the sustainable finance necessary to attain worldwide sustainability ambitions.

Key achievements include:

  • More than 110,000 finance and supporting professionals trained in sustainable finance during the year;
  • Curated sustainable finance content viewed more than 600,000 times by finance professionals and others;
  • 16 new sustainable finance qualifications, modules and courses launched in 2023.

Importantly, professional organisations play a pivotal role in providing external verification of learning to guard against the threat of “competence greenwashing.” This ensures that finance professionals are equipped with the requisite knowledge and skills pertinent to their roles, enabling them to consider climate change and sustainability issues in their financial decisions.

The SFEC, a unique consortium comprising the UK’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), numerous mainly UK-based global professional bodies, and the Green Finance Institute, was the inaugural global alliance to recognise the importance of capacity building as a fundamental element in achieving international and national net zero and sustainability commitments, and in driving sustainable finance. Finance professionals are instrumental in developing and maintaining appropriate professional standards and norms that are in harmony with sustainability goals. They further support their clients and customers in navigating sustainability challenges and in planning and executing effective transition strategies.

With the 2023 introduction of key sustainability standards by the new International Standards Sustainability Board (ISSB) and the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), SFEC members have effectively incorporated the tenets of green and sustainable finance into their professional qualifications and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programmes. Despite these advancements, much work remains to meet our enduring Charter commitments in the UK and globally. This report reaffirms our ongoing commitment to widen the SFEC’s membership, to increase support for the Charter, and to encourage other regions to employ our pioneering approach as a blueprint for global capacity building.

Announcing the publication of the Sustainable Finance Education Charter’s 3rd Progress Report, Simon Thompson, Chief Executive of the Chartered Banker Institute and Chair of the Sustainable Finance Education Charter, said:
Our latest progress report demonstrates the leading role of professional bodies in building global capacity to align finance and sustainability.  If every professional financial decision is to take account of climate change and sustainability – the objective set for the finance sector at COP 26 – then every finance professional needs to develop the knowledge and skills required to apply the principles of sustainable finance in their daily practice.   
“We are delighted to see our global leadership on capacity building since 2020 now being picked up by policymakers and others to give greater urgency to this important aspect of aligning finance and sustainability.“
Helen Brand OBE, Chief Executive of ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), said:
“Accountants and other professionals have a central role in informing, driving and embedding sustainable business and approaches across all sectors. Upskilling is vital if we’re to meet the increasingly urgent challenges of climate change.

“We’re seeing increased demand for sustainability skills training and the adoption of sustainability reporting standards around the world, which is encouraging. But it’s only a start and we need to build more skills capacity and further sharpen our focus.”

Will Goodhart, CEO, CFA UK, added:
“Sustainable finance has moved from the margins to the mainstream as the scale and urgency of today’s multiple challenges becomes ever clearer. Professional bodies are delivering the skills, knowledge and behaviours that our sectors need to support the transition and the SFEC plays a vital role in that process – helping us to share and promote best practices and to engage with those setting the regulatory and policy context”.
Tracy Vegro OBE, Chief Executive, CISI (the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment) further added that:
“The SFEC is a world-class orchestra of all the financial talents, blending the skills and knowledge of professionals across our industry to tackle some of the greatest challenges, and opportunities, of our time, in the climate challenge, in natural capital and biodiversity, in pollution. By helping provide the right finance in the right place at the right time, and at scale, financial institutions, working alongside professional bodies and other educators, and with the added power of AI, are central to the efforts to deliver a just transition to net zero.”

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