UNEP FI’s fourth Regional Roundtable on Sustainable Finance in 2019 for the Latin America and Caribbean region took place last week, with more than 330 delegates from 16 countries in attendance.

The two-day event, held in São Paulo on 14-15 October, was co-organised with the Brazilian Federation of Banks (FEBRABAN), and featured a mix of high-level plenaries and keynotes from public and private sector leaders in sustainable finance, as well as technical sessions covering approaches to sustainability in investment, insurance and banking.

The event, which featured over 60 speakers, was opened by the Murilo Portugal, President of FEBRABAN and Eric Usher, Head of UNEP FI, who stressed the importance of the financial industry in shifting financial flows towards more sustainable models of economic development.

Gema Sacristan, Chief Investment Officer of IDB Invest (the private-sector arm of the Inter-American Development Bank), delivered a keynote which highlighted the role of the UN initiatives, including the newly launched Principles for Responsible Banking, in creating a more sustainable economy in Latin America. Gema also highlighted the role of multilateral development banks (MDBs) in mobilising private sector finance for accelerating sustainable development, alongside Eric Usher and Mauricio Velasquez, Executive Director at CAF (the Development Bank of Latin America) in a high-level dialogue.

A panel on the role of regulation in creating a sustainable economy saw regulators from Brazil, Colombia and Costa Rica, who were supportive of a shift towards the development and implementation of green measures. Panelists from the Chilean Ministry of Finance, IFC, Banco Hipotecario and Santander also led discussions on integration of social and environmental risks into financial decision making.

In the afternoon, delegates attended parallel sessions on the Principles for Responsible Banking (with 22 banks from the region having signed up) as well as portfolio alignment with the Paris Agreement and climate-related disclosures. WWF led a session on the new Sustainable Blue Economy Principles and plastics in our oceans, whilst CAF led a session on sustainable infrastructure and green cities, issues important for the region.

The evening saw a celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative, a UN partnership programme of UNEP FI, UNCTAD, UN Global Compact and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). Sonia Favaretto from B3, Brazil and Olga Cantillo from Bolsa de Valores de Panama spoke about how their stock exchanges were helping achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their countries.

The opening of day 2 saw keynotes from Bradesco and Santander. Conversation in the panels of the day focused on financing the SDGs, as well as how financial institutions can encourage financial education and inclusion, topics important for the region. The main plenary panels concluded with a topic most important for the region – using finance for sustainable land use and the importance of deforestation risks .

The second day also saw several side events and workshops, including the Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) Market Event for Brazil, with the support of the Brazilian Insurance Confederation (CNSeg) and the Brazilian Superintendence for Private Insurance (SUSEP). The PSI market event saw the launch of the of the PSI-WWF-UNESCO Global Guide to protect World Heritage Sites. The main aim of the Guide is to provide practical guidance to insurers on how to prevent or reduce the risk of insuring and investing in companies or projects whose activities could damage World Heritage Sites, particularly in relation to sectors such as oil and gas, mining, and large-scale hydropower. Other relevant sectors include logging, fishing, agriculture, plantations, and large-scale infrastructure such as pipelines, roads and mega-ports. Further discussions focused around integration of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) risks in non-life insurance business as well as evolving market and supervisory practices such as implementing the Taskforce for Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) Recommendations for insurers. Following this event and discussions, a national insurance roadmap will be developed by PSI and relevant stakeholders in Brazil.

The day also saw a side-event hosted by UNEP Brazil on sustainable business opportunities in the Amazon, a topic becoming more important for the region by the day. This event was opened by the UNEP Brazil representative, Denise Hamu as well as the Forest Stewardship Council Executive Director, Aline Tristao. The event focused on concessions for public forests and how sustainable development is necessary for business opportunities in the region and sustainable forest management. Next steps included discussions with stakeholders to design tailored mechanisms that would meet the specificities of native forest management in the concessions of public forests in the Amazon.

A highlight for day 2 was also a workshop on the implementation of the Principles for the Responsible Banking. The Principles, which launched 3 weeks ago by the UN Secretary General in New York, are now in the implementation stage for all signatory banks (22 from the Latin America region).

On day 3, FEBRABAN hosted a workshop about TCFD implementation with over 45 delegates in attendance. The content focused on case studies from financial institutions already working on the initiative and built upon the Brazilian Roadmap for TCFD developed by FEBRABAN for banks. UNEP FI is also currently working on a pilot-project for banks on the implementation of TCFD.

You can view photos from the events here.

UNEP FI would like to thank all speakers, delegates, partners and sponsors for making the event a huge success.