Investors and governments around the world are recognizing that key to a sustainable economic future are sustainable financial investments. Sustainable finance is about incorporating environmental, social, and governance factors into investment decisions and is a fast-growing market that is gaining speed as more and more businesses address climate change and transition to a low-carbon economy and seize the economic opportunities it presents.
With this in mind, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson, recently launched the Sustainable Finance Action Council.
“The global economy is turning swiftly, decisively, and irreversibly green. It is essential for the prosperity of the next generation of Canadians – and indeed, for those of us working today – for Canada to be at the forefront of this great transformation,” said Freeland.
The council will bring together public and private sector financial expertise to support the growth of a strong, well-functioning, sustainable finance market. Financial sector leaders will provide input on the foundational market infrastructure needed for a stable and reliable sustainable finance market in Canada that will boost investor confidence and drive economic growth. Mobilizing capital is a critical part of Canada’s work to meet its 2030 Paris target, achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and ensure that Canada continues to have a prosperous economy.
Kathy Bardswick was named as the inaugural Chair of Canada’s Sustainable Finance Action Council and will invite a regionally diverse group of leading financial sector organizations to participate as members of the council. Participants will include a broad representation of Canadian banks, insurance companies and pension funds. A public sector coordinating group will play a role in observing council meetings and advising the chair. The first meeting is expected to take place in early June, at which point confirmed participants will be announced. Other organizations and individuals from academia, think tanks and industry groups with expertise in sustainable finance will be engaged for their advice and input.
Kathy Bardswick has spent nearly four decades in the financial services industry, retiring in 2016 from her position as president and chief executive officer of The Co-operators Group.
The Government of Canada also recognizes that sustainable finance incorporates representative decision-making. The work of the council will also therefore include a focus on gender and diversity reporting across the public and private sector.
Establishing a well-functioning sustainable finance market will give investors confidence in Canada, protect the resilience of the Canadian financial sector in the years ahead, and ensure Canada’s broader long-term economic strength.
“As financial systems around the world are increasingly looking to measure, price and disclose climate risk, the Sustainable Finance Action Council will help ensure Canada stays ahead of the curve,” said Wilkinson. “There is no question that climate change presents unprecedented risks and economic opportunities. The sooner we understand and disclose them, the more effectively we can address and seize them.”
The council will work in close collaboration with Canada’s new and independent Net-Zero Advisory Body to ensure climate considerations are reflected in public and private financial decision-making.
For further information on the the council, visit: Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance