MARTINA MACPHERSON: MILLENIALS AND SUSTAINABLE FINANCE

Martina Macpherson, international expert in sustainable investing, focuses on the next generation to make them realise their power of influence and change.

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Highlights of the conversation:

  • Public value is a shared value. It means shared objectives and shared targets. We are trying to bring young professionals together, students,  representatives of the financial and insurance world, i.e. the next general of sustainable finance leaders. For us public value means to educate them, provide them with opportunities, mentoring, and build a platform for knowledge and information exchange on specific Environmental, Social and Good governance (ESG) issues and on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Network has also launched a monthly webinar —Brighttalk— that brings together 160,000 followers and is hoping to launch an academic network to interconnect academic and industrial experts.
  • The Network for Sustainable Financial Markets has been founded in 2008 by like-minded who created an open-source platform to support the ESG initiatives. The network has always been closely aligned with industrial initiatives, such as the Carbon Track Initiative, the Social Impact Better Reporting Initiative. The Network created the Next Generation Initiative in 2018 and is aiming to focus on issues that are in the public domain, but not yet deeply researched.
  • It has become urgent to tackle concrete issues. In 2016 Prof. Jill Atkins and Martina Macpherson edited a book on the Business of Bees. Two thirds of our food products might vanish with the extinction of pollinators. The UN has announced that a million of species are either extinct or close to become in the next decade or so. We are facing a climate change crisis that is well understood. But beyond that crisis there is another huge crisis of our biodiversity and species that ultimately could lead to an environmental meltdown and is not yet addressed by the corporate world.
  • The Network published a Species Protection Action Plan that provides accountants and all experts in the finance industry a step-by-step guide on how they can approach the issue. It describes the various accounting initiatives, the risks for the industry, what types of disclosure already in the public domain, partnerships for wild-life conservation, the type of assessments of these partnerships, and reporting around future strategies.
  • The focus is on SDG 14 and 15 (Life under water and Life on land). We know the specific targets and metrics aligned with the SDGs that specifically look at species. But these targets may not yet be known among accountants and other professionals. We then encourage them to better understand the framework. The approach is no longer limited to the companies already interested in SDG 14 and 15, but to all companies because of the negative impact they have had in recent years. It has become urgent to mainstream this approach.
  • There is also a species extinction engagement action plan. What can the financial and accounting community do to better understand the issues they are contributing to through their operations, supply chains, transactions, and corporate strategies. This is addressed to both the investors community and the corporates to align their understanding of the crisis and report back to the investors community and NGOs and other stakeholders involved.
  • At stake are 32 trillion dollars of sustainable investment assets aligned with SDGs. This is a major development if compared with the year 2000 when the PRI were discussing 4 trillion of investment assigned to their specific strategies. The picture has shifted. Regulators and governments have come on board. There is a new momentum and we see disclosure becoming mandatory, when it was only voluntary in the past decade. There is hope among regulators that in the decade to come the current gaps in the reporting value chain will be closed.
  • There is a role to play for everyone in society. It’s up to each of us, customers, particularly the next generation, to mandate better sustainability practices by choosing value-driven brands and responsible investment. We are the ones who can bring change, because ultimately we are the ones financing it!

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