Sustainable finance: the impact of ESG towards a better future
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Sustainable finance: the impact of ESG towards a better future


Sustainable finance: the impact of ESG towards a better future

Edward van Dooren

Strategic Advisor Worldline Financial Services

Sustainable finance: the impact of ESG towards a better future

  • Environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing alludes to a set of non-financial standards for a company’s behaviour, used by investors to consciously screen potential investments. These factors continue to gain ground in the financial industry, guiding companies towards a purpose driven organisation by leveraging their core assets to enable sustainability. But data within the ESG space is a growing challenge for companies to ensure they can meet their ambitious goals. This was the focus of one of the Sibos 2022 sessions: ‘Spotlight on Sustainable Finance: Stronger ESG, better future’, where we got to hear insightful presentations from Bill Borden (Microsoft), Erik Stadigh (Lune) and Shamina Singh (Mastercard).

    Throughout the three presentations given by the speakers in front of a packed room, it was clear that more and more companies start to understand that sustainability is a must.

    ESG, not only environment
    Although the ‘E’ of environment in ESG is most of the time highlighted – including by the Lune and Microsoft representatives at Sibos – Shamina Singh (Mastercard) pointed out the importance of the social aspect in the ESG standards. Some insights from Mastercard related to connecting philanthropy to business purpose, embedding impact across the company, not forgetting that this is about having a real impact on people's lives and measuring what matters. Furthermore, she stressed that it is more difficult to quantify inclusion than carbon emission. “The story of measuring social needs to be tackled”, said Singh.

    ESG is also a market opportunity
    Bill Borden, Corporate Vice-President of Microsoft, expressed the need for acceleration and collaboration for “this planet-sized challenge, that requires planet-scale innovation”. According to Borden, there is "a yawning gap and a growing market”. 3 to 5 trillion dollars are needed to meet the United Nation's SDG goals by 2030, as well as an acceleration of 5 to 8 times to support the transition to a low carbon economy.

    This will also create market opportunities for companies. “Organisations that are providing a sustainable vision are rewarded by investors and employees”, stated the specialist during the opening presentation of the session, adding that “64% of talent won’t take a job with a company without a sustainability policy”. Some of the sustainability challenges pointed out by Borden lay in the lack of global standards, slow manual processes, siloed data, value chain transparency, and capital investment trade-offs. Microsoft is expressing that ESG should be embedded into the strategy and culture of all companies and that they will have a laser-focus on data integration.

    Co-founder and CEO of Lune, Erik Stadigh, stressed that ESG is no longer a nice to have. There is a tidal transformation ongoing, and, in Stadigh’s opinion, climate change is your biggest commercial opportunity this decade. 74% of SMEs want to be more sustainable, but only 14% are doing something about it, said the specialist. Climate impact can lead to revenue growth.

    A resource-efficient world
    As of now, companies may feel torn between a traditional view of delivering shareholder value through financial performance or a move to a ‘post-growth’ mindset where financial returns alone might not be the top priority. We want to encourage this shift to a more resource-efficient world, where companies seek to reduce their activities to preserve our planet.
    Climate ESG emergency continues to strike and more drastic measures need to be taken. As the European leader in digital payments and payment transactions, Worldline believes that only collective change, in any domain, can be successful. For example, in 2021 we launched Trust 2025, our five-year roadmap aimed at maintaining our leadership in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and accelerating our progress in responding to our most critical and strategic challenges. In 2018, Worldline was the first company in the payment industry to neutralise its CO2 emissions. The milestone applies to the company’s activities across its data centres, offices, business travel and the lifecycle of its payment terminals. We also work with fintech ecolytiq to provide sustainable banking solutions across the European market.