The European Union (EU) aims to be at the forefront of international efforts to build a financial system that supports sustainable growth. Re-orienting finance to more sustainable investments is vital if the EU is to deliver tangible results on its climate, environmental and sustainable policy goals. Ultimately, sustainable finance is crucial in order to boost the EU's long-term competitiveness and growth. With the United States withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, the EU should establish itself as the destination for low-carbon technologies and sustainable investments, securing a substantial competitive advantage.
The Juncker Commission has pledged to lead the implementation of the Paris climate agreement and the transition to a low-carbon and resilient economy. To succeed, more capital for green and other sustainable projects is needed: the funding gap to achieve EU climate and energy targets by 2030 is estimated at €180 billion each year.
Public finance and regulation are necessary but not enough. The financial sector has a critical role to play to help achieve our goals. With around €100 trillion of financial assets, it represents a huge lever towards green and sustainable investment. Involving the private sector in this effort will require a systemic change in investment culture.
To redirect capital towards financing the energy transition and meeting broader sustainability challenges, policy intervention is essential. The EU needs a strategy to unlock the full potential of sustainable finance and investment in the low-carbon, circular and resource-efficient economy. The Commission set up a High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance (HLEG) in late 2016 to help develop a roadmap to unlock the full potential of sustainable finance.
Building on the HLEG recommendations, the Commission Action Plan sets the Commission's vision and the steps needed to ensure that the financial system and the investment chain effectively integrate sustainability considerations.
This high-level conference was an opportunity to keep up the momentum established at the One Planet Summit and bring together the support and commitment from EU leaders and key private players for the changes needed in the financial system.
It was the moment to present the Commission Action Plan and to agree on concrete follow-up. The conference provided the momentum and a shared vision on sustainable finance to feed the European Council debate and conclusions of 22-23 March 2018.
Programme and contributions
The conference was webstreamed. You can still watch the full recording of the conference.
Some further resources were provided to promote the conference and engage in the debate.