Who would have thought that the finance industry could bring a positive change towards Earth’s climate change? The film “Our Planet: Too Big To Fail”, which was produced by WWF, explores how the finance sector can join hands in the fight to rescue the planet. This 40-minute film also highlights the power of investing in the effort to save our planet and how the finance industry can bring change by transitioning into a more sustainable future.
Officiated by Micheal Izza, ICAEW Chief Executive, with engaging discussion led by Francesca Sharp, ICAEW Technical Lead of Climate Change, who highlighted five key actions for the finance sector (FS) from the film. The first is to drive change by understanding and minimizing risk. Secondly, businesses should declare and halt the negative impacts they are responsible for causing. Thirdly, the FS should consider all their stakeholders and think sustainably in the decision-making process. Finally, the last two points talk about seizing new opportunities and rebuilding the new system we need for a better world.
Introducing the four distinguished panelists from diverse backgrounds, each sharing their take on the film and the importance the finance industry has in driving the corporate world towards a sustainable economy.
The Finance Industry is the Key Enabler to Achieve WWF’s Goals in Raising Awareness and Reconnecting People with Nature
One of the film’s messages was – “The financial sector is an enormously powerful and effective force and can be a force for good.” Which was picked up by Sylvain Augoyard, Vice President of Asia Sustainable Finance at WWF Singapore, who reiterated that message on how the finance sector is the key driver in achieving all the WWF goals. Inspired by the “Our Planet” Series and “Our Planet: Our Business,” this new film highlights to corporations what is at stake if businesses continue to remain ignorant.
Pauline Ho, ACA Assurance Partner and Net Zero Leader at PwC Malaysia, mentioned that having a dedicated sustainability unit was never the norm back in the days, especially within the finance industry. The film touched on the finance sector having unwittingly bankrolled the destruction of the very natural system it relies upon today. However, many organizations have finally put their foot down to contribute to sustainability goals over the recent years. PwC has come a long way, and in September of 2020, they pledged to achieve net-zero by 2030. PwC is determined to work on projects that will reduce their carbon footprint and align these internally while also advising the clients externally.
Financial Sectors Should Create Portfolios That Extract Revenue While Also Invest in the Future
The film “Our Planet: Too Big To Fail” talks about how getting new clients opens an opportunity for the financial sector to develop financial portfolios that do not just extract revenue but also invest in the future. One of the sustainable economic growth that the world desperately needs is the end of plastic waste, which is what Sophia Porcelli FCA, CFO and VP of Operations Alliance To End Plastic Waste, has been focusing on for this international non-profit organisation that recently set up an office in Singapore. The film talks about the importance of why companies should report the changes they have made and why they need to take the lead to push others to take action. Sophia also shared an example of how at the first board meetings she attended, over 50 world-leading CEOs came together to focus on and strategise solutions to end climate change, and more organisations need to be part of this.
Chiming in to urge organisations to take action now is Steve Kenzie, Executive Director of UN Global Compact Network UK. According to Steve, the fundamental blind spot for many organizations regarding climate change is this notion where they are not at risk, which is a naïve understanding. With how things are going, we are significantly behind in adapting to climate change and reducing emissions as a society. Whether companies are exposed to carbon taxes, supply chains, or other radical projects, it is vital that they start taking action by envisioning a future under various climate conditions and understanding how that could affect their business.
Failing to Fight Climate Change Will Result in the Economies to Collapse and Will Put Civilizations at Risk
Did you know that climate impacts are severely affecting business facilities, operations, and supply chains? The damages are physical, which will cause instability in the social infrastructure and political stability that all businesses depend on. Organisations and individuals need to take critical action to protect future investments through thorough climate vulnerability assessments. The time is now to ensure a sustainable future for our future generations before all-natural resources and the environment are depleted.
For instance, the small steps taken by organisations like PwC include measuring gas emissions and promoting a more environmentally friendly way of working. Ultimately, whichever focus corporate leaders choose to prioritize, be it reducing energy consumption, waste, choosing greener infrastructure, or sustainable suppliers, it will inevitably lead to a positive impact for both the business and the planet.
For more resources on climate change and sustainability, visit ICAEW Sustainability Hub, click here.