Dr. Simon Zadek was a co-Director of the UN Environment Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System (2014-2018); and is now the Principal of Project Catalyst at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Visiting Professor and Senior Fellow at the Singapore Management University. This article draws from the Inquiry’s fourth and final global report, ‘Making Waves: Aligning the Financial System with Sustainable Development’,
Aligning global finance with sustainable development1
The UN Environment Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System was launched in January 2014 with a mandate to advance options for improving the financial system’s effectiveness in mobilising capital towards a green and inclusive economy. In its early stages, there was some disbelief that it was possible to systematically insert sustainable development as a design criterion into the heartland of the US$ 300 trillion global financial system. A typical view came from one seasoned climate finance negotiator, who when hearing of the Inquiry’s ambition exclaimed, ‘surely you cannot touch the financial system: it’s sacred’.