CEO’s Reflection on 2018

It would be no overstatement to say that 2018 was a breakthrough year for the green and sustainable finance agenda – an agenda that in 2019 would seem to have an unstoppable momentum.
Underpinned by Europe’s new Action Plan for Financing Sustainable Growth, key players in Ireland and across the continent grasped the opportunities presented to showcase and demonstrate the role this important agenda must play in shaping all our futures.
2018 was the first-ever official Year of Sustainable Business, supported and executed by Sustainable Nation Ireland with a €1m programme of activities and over 60 events – including our inaugural Climate Week of events in November.
In 2018, we succeeded in bringing together over 2,000 thinkers, leaders and policymakers from across the entire spectrum of green finance, responsible investment and innovation – helping to share ideas and leadership, tackle challenges and shape a new future.
The year of events would not have been possible without the support of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, led by Minister Richard Bruton.
We were delighted that Minister Bruton chose the EIT Climate-KIC Climate innovation Summit at Dublin Castle, held during Climate Week, to make his first public announcement as Minister and pledge to make Ireland a leader, not a follower, in tackling climate change.
Those plans are already underpinned by the announcement in the National Development Plan of €22 billion to fund measures that will turn Ireland into a low-carbon economy by 2050.
This year also saw the NTMA’s roll-out of the Ireland’s first-ever Green Bond. At €3 billion Sustainable Nation Ireland was pleased to be namechecked within the roadshow deck as a key player in the Irish eco-system.
On the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) front, it has been a year of major activity advancing this agenda across all asset classes in Ireland. SIF Ireland produced two major pieces of work, in June a 21st Century Fiduciary Roadmap for Ireland in partnership with the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, making Ireland only the 10th country in the world to do so. Later in November, SIF Ireland undertook a major piece of work analysing the degree of ESG integration across Irish located asset managers. Of 16 respondents managing €77BN AUM, I am pleased to report that 81% had ESG practices in place.
Supported by Skillnet Ireland, the Sustainability Skillnet goes from strength to strength with nearly 600 private sector representatives taking advantage of our skills programmes across the year.
On an international level, I was this year honoured to be named Strategic Advisor to the new UN Environment Financial Centres for Sustainability (FC4S) global network, whose European node will be based in Dublin. This result would not have been possible without the support of the Department of Finance and both Minister Donohue and Minister D’Arcy. And of course, EU Climate-KIC!
Supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Sustainable Nation Ireland also continued to develop and strengthen international links in the UK and France, and also in Asia, where in October we signed a “memorandum of understanding” with Hong Kong’s Green Finance Association (HKGFA), meaning closer collaboration on green finance and matters of mutual interest.
As 2018 draws to a close, it is fitting that we can look ahead to 2019 with huge optimism – the European Commission have just adopted a strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy by 2050 – a clean planet for all.
Under our role in Government’s International Financial Services (IFS) 2020 Strategy, we will continue to help Ireland move towards its future as a low-carbon economy by unlocking the capital required to do so.

Finally, a sincere thank you for your support this year.

From our Committee members to private sector funding partners, none of the above would have been possible. As always, your tremendous efforts are greatly appreciated.

Stephen Nolan
CEO Sustainable Nation Ireland

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