Zurich – Concentrating on sustainability is crucial for the competitiveness of the Swiss financial center, says the organization Swiss Sustainable Finance (SSF). At SSF’s annual conference, financial experts explained the growing global importance of sustainable investment. At 82 per cent the Swiss market for sustainable investments also grew significantly in 2017.
The SSF’s third annual conference discussed current issues in the area of sustainable finance, including the current EU action plan, the Swiss Association for Sustainable Finance announced in a statement. The goal of poverty reduction cannot be achieved with state development cooperation alone, Philippe Le Houérou, CEO of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), said in his presentation at the conference. “Private actors will play a key role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by providing the capital and innovative solutions to address the most complex development issues.”
Simon Zadek, head of Project Catalyst and former co-director of a UN environmental program, pointed out that “the players in the Swiss financial sector must remain innovative in order to keep up with the rapid development”. For Switzerland, in particular, the new EU action plan is important, “which proposes concrete regulatory changes to strengthen sustainability in the financial sector”.
The Swiss Association for Sustainable Development also welcomed its 100th member this year. SSF sees this as a sign of increased interest from financial players in sustainable investment. “It is only through the commitment and activities of our members that SSF can achieve its goal of making Switzerland a leading financial center for sustainable finance,” said SSF director Sabine Döbeli.
These efforts are mirrored in the market. The Swiss market for sustainable investments grew significantly in 2017 at 82 per cent to 390.6 billion Swiss francs. Sustainable investments already account for 16 per cent of the assets held by pension funds and insurance companies. Growth is driven by industry self-regulation and laws in Europe. SSF’s report “Swiss Sustainable Investment Market Study 2018” said that most of the growth can be attributed to institutional investors, in particular to pension funds and insurance companies. Their sustainable investments increased by 128 per cent to 238.2 billion Swiss francs. Sustainable assets already account for 16 per cent of the assets held by Swiss institutional investors. Sustainable investments in mutual funds increased by 47 per cent to 94.4 billion Swiss francs. The sustainable funds now account for 8.7 per cent of the Swiss fund market. The volume of sustainable investments held in mandates increased by 25 per cent to 57.9 billion Swiss francs.
Image credit: Swiss Sustainable Investment Market Study 2018, SSF