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The Future of Finance

March 16th - 18th, 2021 Online


Sustainable finance has gained considerable traction in recent years. It has become one of the major megatrends in the financial industry. It is already influencing capital allocations globally, such as commitments from institutional investors to divest from fossil fuel companies and other “sin” sectors; ESG funds attracting record inflows in 2020; the CEO of the world’s largest asset manager writing a public letter to the business community stressing the potential financial impact of climate risk; and the European Union making moves to regulate the definition of sustainable financial products.

This future-focused event series will feature three one-hour sessions starting at 1:00 PM (CET) and will provide an in-depth look into some of the most important emerging themes that are shaping the transition to sustainable financial markets.

Session 1 on March 16: Sustainable Investing Trends in 2021

Session 2 on March 17: Nature-Based Infrastructure as an Asset Class

Session 3 on March 18: Gender Lens Investing

Our first session will provide the “big picture” and will explore the sustainable investing trends to watch in 2021. This will be followed by two deep-dive sessions on top themes that investors should be aware of due to their growing potential to shape the future of finance. Each session will feature a concise breakdown of the current state of play and then will engage high-level panellists in an interactive discussion of the gaps, opportunities, challenges, and trends.

This event is organised by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) and is part of the Building Bridges Community. Building Bridges is a growing movement of organizations dedicated to advancing a sustainable finance system in Switzerland and across the globe. The initiative recognizes that the scale and complexity of this transition requires “building bridges” between finance, government, and sustainable development communities.

The next Building Bridges Week and Summit will take place November 29-December 2 in Geneva and we are happy that this event is contributing to the conversation in the lead up to that moment.

Session 1: Sustainable Investing Trends in 2021

Sustainable investing has come a long way. It was not long ago when this new way of investing was still considered to be niche—and even at times confused with philanthropy. Over the years, financial market participants have gained a better understanding of the value proposition of incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations in asset allocations and recognized the potential in the increasing client demand for values-based investing.

The session aims to answer the following questions:

  • What will be the main trends in sustainable investing in 2021?
  • Which sustainable investing themes should be getting more attention?
  • Going beyond the hype: why is sustainable investing here to stay?
  • What will be the main drivers of sustainability integration in investment decisions?
  • What are the challenges of sustainable investing becoming mainstream? What needs to be done to address them?

Session 2: Making Nature-Based Infrastructure an Asset Class

Nature-based infrastructure (NBI) remains nascent, and there is a general lack of understanding of what it is and its value proposition. In order to scale up NBI, there is a need to demonstrate that it is indeed investment-ready and that it exhibits a set of unique characteristics that are appealing to both public and private investors. In other words, NBI needs to become a distinct asset class. For this to happen, several dimensions of work need to come together in a systemic and synergistic manner and in scale.

The session aims to answer the following questions:

  • What is NBI and why is it important?
  • What is needed for NBI to become an asset class?
  • What were the key achievements and highlights in the space in 2020?
  • What are the latest innovative instruments and solutions available to address the “lack of revenue stream” problem?

Session 3: Gender Lens Investing

Sustainable investing has experienced impressive growth in recent years, reaching USD 30.7 trillion in assets under management in developed countries alone. At the same time, only a fraction of this amount, USD 7.7 billion, has gone into gender lens investing, a growing segment of sustainable investing that focuses on advancing gender equality. Achieving gender equality is essential for a prosperous and sustainable world, as it affects all aspects of sustainable development. In addition, gender diversity has a positive impact on financial performance. Companies with a gender-diverse workforce are likely to outperform their peers and increase their market valuations.

The session aims to answer the following questions:

  • What is the business case for gender lens investing?
  • What are the latest developments in the space?
  • What is needed to scale up gender financing?
  • How can we integrate gender considerations into all new sustainable finance instruments?
  • How could a second generation of gender bonds look like?

Date/Time: 16-18 March 2021 – 13:00 PM CET

Registration: on Zoom

Speakers: We are looking forward to announcing our speakers closer to the event.

Related Resources
Register March 16th - 18th, 2021 Online

Task Force:

Global Governance and Ecological Civilization, Green Energy, Investment and Trade, Green Urbanization and Environment Improvement, Innovation, Sustainable Production and Consumption

Event Type: