Sustainable finance is here to stay
28 July 2021 at 11:35 am
“[ASFI] is…an important part of holding everyone to account to deliver against the road map recommendations”
The Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative (ASFI) is set to become a permanent fixture, paving the way for a more sustainable future for the country’s finance system.
In what marks the next stage of the project’s development, the ASFI announced last week it was establishing a permanent body to be known as the Australian Sustainable Finance Institute.
The Institute will drive and coordinate the delivery of its 2019 Roadmap report, which calls on financial organisations to embed sustainability into their practices, help the transition to net zero, and support Australia to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
The establishment of a permanent ASFI was one of the key recommendations of the Roadmap.
The initiative was first launched in 2019, bringing together leaders and executives from major banks, insurance companies, super funds, financial sector peak bodies, civil society groups and academia in a bid to create a finance sector that supported better social, environmental and economic outcomes for Australia.
Founding members include the big four banks, CBus, KPMG, Allianz, and AMP Capital.
The steering committee currently leading ASFI will be dissolved, with existing co-chairs Jackie Johnson and Simon O’Connor stepping down to make way for the new directors of the Institute – Katharine Tapley, Michelle McPherson and Kristian Fok.
Johnson told Pro Bono News that ASFI had allowed the sector to come together in a way it hadn’t previously, so it was “momentous” that it would now be a permanent fixture of the finance scene.
“There’s no other forum that allows for parts of the finance sector to come together to look at what’s required for a future transition, both on social goals and environmental goals,” Johnson said.
“It’s also an important part of holding everyone to account to deliver against the road map recommendations and to be a convener that connects us to other work happening in Australia and the rest of the world.”
A report released by ASFI in June found that while Australia’s finance sector has made good early progress aligning the nation’s financial system with a more sustainable future, work was needed to better serve the needs of financially vulnerable groups like First Nations peoples.
Johnson said that making sure all Australians could access the right financial products was at the top of the ASFI Institute’s to-do list, as well as nailing down definitions of what a socially responsible finance instrument actually is.
“We need to make sure we have agreed on a taxonomy here that works in Australia and internationally, because as we all appreciate, the capital markets are global and we need to stay connected,” she said.