la Caixa

Supported by:

Deutsche Bank

,Finance, Environment and Sustainable Development
Qualitative Risk | Microfinance | Climate Change
19 May 2005 | Barcelona, Spain

“…the overall [corporate] strategy has to work for the CSR approach to be viable; and conversely for the corporate strategy to be viable in the medium term, decisions need to be made on CSR issues as the strategy is put together, rather than waiting until “potential CSR liabilities” start to emerge.”

– Western European Forum participant

Convened to build on previous events in the region, such as the European Seminar on Finance, Environment and Sustainable Development (Paris, 2003), the first Western European Forum provided European Signatories, a key section of UNEP FI’s membership, an opportunity to obtain and exchange information on a number of key sustainability issues specific to the finance and insurance sectors.

Key Ideas

The forum brought together Signatory organisations from a total of 12 European countries and generated some lively debates. A number of ideas particularly marked the event, namely:
  • There is a clear business case both for responsible investment products such as microfinance and for generally identifying and addressing qualitative risks; demand is on the rise and markets are largely untapped.
  • Environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations cannot be dealt with as a separate issue; financial institutions need to involve these directly into their mainstream activities. This may involve a complete revision of companies’ business models
  • There remains a significant amount of awareness building and training to be done in order to convince investors to mainstream sustainability issues in their work.
  • A key obstacle in taking ESG considerations on board is how to reconcile the long-term vision that this requires with the predominantly short-term approach implemented by financial analysts and managers

Looking Ahead

The first Western European forum proved a means for bringing together Signatories and partners from the region and responded to the need for exchanges on the regional level. UNEP FI will endeavour to maintain the forum as a yearly occurrence that would travel within Europe. Meetings and exchanges taking place on a sub-regional and national level would be geared to feed into the overall, region-wide forum.



SESSION 1: Microfinance and Sustainability

SESSION 2: Climate Change

SESSION 3: Qualitative Risks and Investment Performance

SESSION 4: Latin American Case Study


Signatory Relations Team
Email: signatory [at] unepfi.org