Mobilizing the world’s capital is essential for the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy. Today, however, too little capital is supporting the transition, and too much continues to be invested in a high-carbon and resource-intensive, polluting economy.
Market participants and others recognize that prevailing rules and incentives governing financial markets can disadvantage long-term, sustainable behavior. Long-term environmental risks are not being effectively counted and green opportunities are inadequately valued. Such distortions can lead to a misallocation of capital and a danger of systemic risks to the economy and the natural environment.
There is an urgent need to accelerate the transition to a green economy by better aligning the financial system to the resilience and the long-term success of the real economy. The UNEP Inquiry is intended to support such actions by identifying best practice, and exploring financial market policy and regulatory innovations that would support the development of a green financial system.
Over the past two years, the UNEP Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System has mapped the practice and potential for advancing such an alignment. Its global report, The Financial System We Need, reflects an in-depth analysis of practice in more than 15 countries and collaborative research across critical sectors and issues, such as banking, insurance, institutional investment and capital markets, captured in over 70 working papers. It describes a “quiet revolution” as sustainability factors are incorporated into the rules that govern the financial system. Much of this innovation has taken place at the national level, providing the platform for new forms of international cooperation. This convergence of national-level innovation with international frameworks, goals and ambitions provides the opportunity to create a new pathway for promoting green finance in the broadest sense.
In moving from design to delivery, the Inquiry will support the scale-up, broadening, and exchange of policy options, advance new critical research areas, and continue its national, regional, and international engagements to embed sustainability into financial architecture.
Download summary on the Inquiry