Klaas Knot, DE
Amsterdam, De Nederlandsche Bank – “De Nederlandsche Bank believes it
can – and must – contribute to sustainable development. It follows from our
legal mandate and our mission.” Klaas Knot said in his opening speech at
the Sustainable Finance Seminar organized by the United Nations
Environmental Program and the Sustainable Finance Lab, and hosted
by De Nederlandsche Bank.
See below for the full speech:
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to welcome you to De Nederlandsche Bank at this
seminar organised by the United Nations Environment Program and the
Sustainable Finance Lab.
I am glad to see so many leaders from the banking, insurance and pension
It tells me that sustainability is given the prominent attention it deserves.
And today’s programme reflects that belief.
It features respected colleagues from around the world, who will argue in
their own way that sustainable finance is crucial to our industry and the
stakeholders we serve.
It has taken us a while.
We have been occupied by the global financial crisis and its consequences for
financial stability and economic growth. Now that the worst seems to be
over, we have to carefully consider the future.
It is evident to me that a stable financial industry and sustainable economic
growth are only possible if we integrate sustainability into our operations and
business models.
This is a complex discussion full of dilemmas and unanswered questions, and
we are still in the early stages of charting a course.
My hope is that today’s speakers and discussions will contribute to more
clarity and action.
This morning Simon Zadek from the United Nations Environment Programme
will summarise the UNEP’s inquiry into the role of the financial system in
achieving sustainable development.
Ma Jun, Chief Economist at the People’s Bank of China, will join us via video
link and share China’s expertise in the area of sustainable finance.
And eminent economist Herman Wijffels will facilitate two roundtable
You are also invited to join this afternoon’s session, which will be open to a
broader audience.
This will feature:
– Simon Zadek, Co-director of the UNEP Inquiry into the
Design of a Sustainable Financial System;
– Professor Dirk Schoenmaker from the VU University;
– James Orr, Chief Actuary for General Insurance at the
Prudential Regulation Authority, which is part of the Bank of
England Group.
– In addition, my fellow Governing Board Member Frank
Elderson will elaborate on De Nederlandsche Bank’s vision
on achieving sustainable development.
De Nederlandsche Bank is hosting today’s event because it shares the sense
of urgency that is felt across industries and territories.
Global population growth, climate change and dwindling natural resources are
threatening the wellbeing and welfare of every person on this planet over a
period of many decades.
Furthermore, the financial crisis has awoken us to the fact that many existing
approaches to business and finance are unsustainable.
Economic development cannot be considered durable when:
– natural resources are being depleted;
– growth rates do not fully reflect potential long-run costs to
– and short-term gains of a small group are achieved at the
expense of the long-term health and stability of the system as a whole.
Now, originally, sustainability was driven by the climate debate and its many
passionate stakeholders.
As a result of the recent crisis, however, the financial industry has become
fully aware that sustainability is its responsibility, too.
After all, climate change, economic growth, financial stability and social
wellbeing are inextricably and systemically linked.
The UNEP’s inquiry comes to a similar conclusion.
As Simon Zadek will discuss later, central banks and regulators are
considered key to achieving a financial system that contributes to sustainable
This potential is unfulfilled, however, in spite of many encouraging efforts by
peers from around the world.
The Bank of England is one of them.
In a recent address, Governor Mark Carney spoke about the profound and
long-term effects of climate change on issues such as property, migration,
political stability and food and water security.
In spite of the threat this poses to our financial resilience and long-term
prosperity, little is done to mitigate it.
This is because of short planning horizons related to short business cycles,
short political cycles and the mandate of central banks.
Carney called this the Tragedy of the Horizon and he argued it could be
broken by combining data, technology and expert judgment.
This, he said, can help us achieve:
– a better understanding of risks;
– better pricing for investors;
– better decisions by policymakers,
– and a smoother transition to a lower-carbon economy.
These and other concerns are being shared by the Financial Stability Board,
of which I am member and which Carney chairs.
In April, G20 Finance Ministers asked the Financial Stability Board to consider
how the financial sector could take account of the risks climate change poses
to our financial system.
In response, the FSB initiated the plan to set up an industry-led disclosure
task force on climate-relate risks in 2016.
This initiative was welcomed by the G20.
Now, as Frank Elderson will elaborate on this afternoon, De Nederlandsche
Bank believes it can – and must – contribute to sustainable development.
It follows from our legal mandate.
And it follows from our mission, which is to contribute to the sustainable
prosperity of the Netherlands by safeguarding the financial stability.
To achieve this, we have begun to incorporate sustainability into our core
We are conducting research into the carbon bubble, the energy transition and
sustainable investments in the pensions industry.
The outcomes will be used to advice policy makers and to guide financial
institutions into incorporating sustainability more fully into their business.
And we are exploring ways to integrate sustainability more fully across our
own range of instruments.
Over the coming period, we will define the exact scope and scale in close co
operation with all our stakeholders.
What we do know, however, is that we will increasingly take a forward
looking approach and assume the role of catalyst.
This way, we hope to ensure that:
– business models of financial institutions are sustainable over the long run;
– the interests of financial service clients are not subordinated to those of
the industry’s shareholders;
– the organisation of social welfare does not lead to an unintended
distribution of wealth and income among generations or groups;
– solid government finances contribute to solid economic development;
– no financial or economic disbalances occur;
– and finally, that the external effects of the economy – including the
generation and usage of energy – are adequately priced and regulated.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are at a crossroads.
The challenges to our system will have serious, long-term consequences
unless we act now. And sustainable development is key to securing the
wellbeing and welfare of this generation and the many that will follow.
De Nederlandse Bank is eager to play a catalysing role and use its
instruments to promote sustainability. I challenge you to do the same.
Thank you.