Toitū Tahua, the Centre for Sustainable Finance launches to deliver 2030 roadmap

Toitū Tahua, the Centre for Sustainable Finance, was launched today to implement the Sustainable Finance Forum’s 2030 roadmap for a sustainable financial system.  

Comprising representatives from banks, insurance companies, industry, Māori businesses and iwi, professional services, civil society, academia, and Government, the Sustainable Finance Forum (SFF) is an initiative of The Aotearoa Circle, a unique partnership of public and private sector leaders committed to restoring New Zealand’s natural capital.   

Toitū Tahua co-chair Bridget Coates said the SFF’s vision is to transform the current financial system into one that enables an inclusive, fair society that operates within planetary boundaries.  

The name, Toitū Tahua, was chosen by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei te reo and cultural experts.  It underscores sustainability and protection of the environment, and acknowledges the importance of financial investment, new thinking and collective action required for a robust and resilient financial system and planet.

The SFF roadmap, released in November 2020, sets out clear recommendations for achieving this vision under three themes, ‘changing mindsets’, ‘transforming finance’ and ‘financing the transformation’. A key component for the transformation to a sustainable finance system is the mainstream incorporation of environmental, social and economic considerations in financial decisions. 

Ms Coates said US$42 trillion of assets globally are now being managed sustainably. “That is an extraordinary development in a very short space of time. There is an undeniable momentum worldwide for financiers and businesses to be sustainable. This is the new normal.” 

She said Toitū Tahua followed in the footsteps of the Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative (ASFI) and the UK Centre for Greening Finance and Investment (CGFI) among similar national bodies around the world. 

“We acknowledge the years of work other organisations in New Zealand, such as the Sustainable Business Council, Sustainable Business Network and Mindful Money have put into this agenda. We see the role of the Toitū Tahua as further enabling these organisations.  Through our founding partners and strong relationships, we are uniquely positioned to move sustainable finance forward.” 

Ms Coates said the unique contribution of Toitū Tahua is to be a trusted resource, honest broker and credible voice for sustainable finance. “We will provide an independent interface between the public and private sectors, especially with respect to banking. Mindset change is our single biggest challenge.” 

Toitū Tahua has committed to developing a momentum tracker to transparently report progress on the implementation of the roadmap. 

Early focus has been placed on three workstreams: 

  • Inclusive finance, to support disadvantaged groups, particularly those vulnerable to high-rate lending
  • Sustainability standards and guidance, the first of which is the Sustainable Agricultural Finance Initiative, a tool to help ensure environmental and social factors are included into decision-making for agricultural finance (see separate news release)
  • Sustainable finance capability building initiatives including developing with EY a sustainability 101 micro-credentials programme for New Zealand businesses, and developing with the Sustainable Business Council and Deloitte a survey to establish a baseline understanding of the issues facing CFOs with respect to climate change and sustainable finance.

Also announced today was an extension to Chapman Tripp’s legal opinion, first announced with the SFF roadmap last year, on the responsibilities of company directors with respect to climate to now include the responsibilities of trustees.

Toitū Tahua funders include ASB, ANZ, BNZ, HSBC, Westpac, EY, IAG, Kāinga Ora, NZ Super Fund and The Tindall Foundation.  Ms Coates said Toitū Tahua would be governed by directors who were independent of the funding organisations.

The SFF roadmap covers three themes – changing mindsets, transforming the financial system and financing the transformation. Under these themes are 11 priority areas with recommendations. 

Changing mindsets 

  • Responsibility: Explicitly require financial system actors to consider, manage and account for environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities (ESG) and real-world impacts
  • Capability: Raise capability in sustainable finance through education and training
  • Governance: Improve public and private sector governance for sustainability

Transforming the financial system 

  • Data: Improve data and information quality and availability, including through the use of fintech 
  • Disclosure: Improve and extend external reporting and disclosures
  • Co-ordination: Establish and fund an agile and independent Centre for Sustainable Finance to oversee and coordinate implementation of the Roadmap 
  • Account and value: Integrate environmental, social and cultural outcomes into investment decisions to ensure we operate within planetary and societal boundaries
  • Inclusiveness: Recognise that financial services and products are a utility and create an inclusive financial system
  • Government leadership: Develop a Whole of Government sustainable finance strategy

Financing the transformation 

  • Resiliency: Improve prudential regulation over environmental risks
  • Standards and pathways: Develop standards and pathways that encourage investments which deliver positive environmental, social and economic outcomes

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