Taking place in Geneva, Switzerland from 3-6 October, the conference featured over 65 events on key sustainable finance topics and a networking village to strengthen collaboration among all relevant actors in this transition.
Featuring prominent speakers such as Al Gore (former US Vice President), Paul Polman (former CEO of Unilever) and Emmanuel Faber (former CEO of Danone), as well as representatives of leading Swiss banks, the Swiss government and international organisations, Building Bridges sent a strong message about the financial industry’s responsibilities in supporting the sustainability transition.
UBP panel explores sustainable infrastructure
During the conference, UBP hosted an event entitled “Sustainable infrastructure: new investment opportunities.” Charlotte Dewynter, Head of Infrastructure at UBP, moderated an interactive discussion with energy and transport experts including Isidora Kosta (World Economic Forum), Jesse Scott (Hertie School/DIW Berlin), Anne Hornung-Souku (TPG) and Marc Elliott (UBP).
Listen to a few excerpts from this lively discussion.
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The panel highlighted the urgent need to invest in sustainable infrastructure to help achieve global decarbonisation targets, given that the construction and operation of infrastructure is responsible for 79% of global emissions.
Marc Elliott emphasised that huge investments in solutions that enable us to extract, store and move clean energy around, as well as in energy-efficiency measures such as building insulation, are key for decarbonising our economy. He stressed that the current energy crisis has heightened the urgency of accelerating this transition, in an attempt to strengthen energy security and independence.
"Energy transition has moved from a long-term goal to a near-term imperative."
Marc Elliott, energy transition investment specialist
You can watch the replay of the panel discussion here.
Energy transition in the spotlight
In the run-up to Building Bridges, Marc Elliott took part in a webinar organised by Building Bridges entitled “Financing a secure and clean energy system”.
Speaking alongside peers from Credit Suisse, Lombard Odier and Zürcher Kantonalbank, Marc highlighted that the current energy crisis is clearly strengthening the case for renewables as a more secure, more independent and often cheaper alternative to imported fossil fuels.
However, he also warned that the path to renewables is not a linear one. As governments grapple with the challenge of potential energy shortages in the immediate future, there is a risk of locking in inefficient fossil-fuel infrastructure and power generation for longer than necessary.
Marc identified three important tasks to accelerate the transition to renewables: scaling up supply chains, reducing red tape and dealing with the rate-hike cycle.
In his closing remarks, he stressed the financial sector’s role in facilitating the large-scale switch to renewables, and highlighted the important role of industry in pushing governments to create the right policy framework for this to happen.
Nature moves centre stage
While climate change traditionally dominates sustainable finance debates, nature featured prominently at Building Bridges.
Indeed, climate change and nature are closely intertwined, and several speakers warned that we will not be able to transition to a net-zero economy without addressing biodiversity.
Some speakers argued that regulations such as the EU Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) play a key role in putting nature on the corporate agenda, by pushing investors to ask questions about biodiversity.
Sustainable finance: a multi-stakeholder effort
We believe that as a financial actor, we have an important role to play in enabling the transition to a sustainable economy. Through our investment decisions, we can support businesses that are providing solutions to tackle global challenges or that are engaged in their own transition, allowing us to have a positive impact while growing wealth over the long term.
"We have an indispensable role to play in tackling environmental and social challenges, by aligning financial flows with the needs of the new economic system."
Guy de Picciotto, UBP's Chief Executive Officer
Accordingly, UBP is continually enhancing its responsible investment expertise and offering. But the scale and complexity of the challenge require the contribution of all sectors of society, including the finance industry, companies, start-ups, governments, the UN and other international organisations, NGOs, academia and asset owners.
UBP was therefore pleased to support this four-day event as it offered a unique opportunity for cross-sector collaboration and knowledge exchange on issues ranging from climate change, energy transition and biodiversity, to sustainable finance regulations and the role of data.