Spainsif and the Spanish Network for the United Nations Global Compact discuss the progress of the National Sustainable Finance Plan at a conference

21 April 2022

The conference featured the participation of Pablo de Ramón-Laca, Director General of the Treasury and Financial Policy of the Spanish Government, who provided information on the progress in the drafting of the country's future Sustainable Finance Plan.

Sustainable finance has taken off in Europe and Spain, as evidenced by the fact that Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI) in our country increased by 21% in 2020 and that for the first time ESG (environmental, social and governance) assets exceeded traditional assets. This has been influenced both by increased investor awareness of sustainable criteria and by growing regulation in this field.

In fact, in addition to the European Sustainable Finance Strategy and the European taxonomy, sustainable finance is starting to gain institutional consistency also at national level in different Member States through domestic frameworks.Among them, the Spanish experience, with the elaboration of a Sustainable Finance Plan and a sovereign green bond issuance programme that will commence in the second half of the year.

In order to understand the key aspects of these latest financial developments and to clarify the future of companies in this regard, Spainsif and the Spanish Network for the United Nations Global Compact organised a conference attended in-person and online by more than 200 people at the Cecabank Auditorium in Madrid under the title "Towards a sustainable finance plan: sustainable and responsible investment, key for companies", with the participation of representatives from companies and organisations that are benchmarks in sustainability and sustainable investment.

The event was opened by Clara Arpa, Chairwoman of the Spanish Network for the United Nations Global Compact, who stated that: "eight years out from the United Nations target date for achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, a greater financing effort is required to meet these challenges. Before the pandemic, it was estimated that an increase in investment of between $3 and $5 billion per year was needed to achieve the SDGs; following the pandemic, it is estimated that this amount needs to be increased by $2 billion per year".

For his part, Joaquín Garralda, Chairman of Spainsif, emphasised “the importance of a Sustainable Finance Plan to facilitate a global understanding of an issue that is systematic, which involves many stakeholders - public and private - and which has a clear impact on citizens, both in their role as savers and as voters”.

Progress of Spain's next Sustainable Finance Plan

The conference featured the special participation of Pablo de Ramón-Laca, Director General of the Treasury and Financial Policy of the Spanish Government, who has shared information on the state of development of our country's future Sustainable Finance Plan, stating that: "this framework will be dynamically shaped and progressively implemented. With the Plan we intend to reinforce our commitment to sustainability and use it as a strategic line of action to continue to be at the forefront in this field".

During his speech, the Director General of the Treasury described the three strategic objectives of the plan: (1) Ensure the transformation of the public and private financial sector towards a new model aligned with climate neutrality; (2) Improve the competitiveness of the Spanish financial sector by taking advantage of the opportunities of sustainable finance in value creation; and (3) Redirect the flow of capital towards a low-carbon economy, in line with the Paris Agreement.

He also explained the six areas of action around which the National Sustainable Finance Plan will be articulated:

The promotion of sustainable finance at international and European level, creating new initiatives in this field.
The promotion of Spain as a benchmark in the issuance of sustainable financial instruments.
The creation of skills, knowledge and awareness of sustainable finance.
The promotion of appropriate administrative coordination.
The strengthening of the management of risks arising from climate change and the energy transition.
The provision of support to SMEs in their work in the field of sustainable finance will be pursued.

Expert panels

The session featured two panels with the participation of experts in sustainable finance. The first, moderated by Mónica Malo, Cecabank's Director of Communication, Internal Relations and Sustainability, was formed by Julián Romero, Chairman of the Spanish Observatory of Sustainable Financing; Helena Viñes, CNMV director; José Carlos García de Quevedo, Chairman of ICO; and Mario E. Sánchez, economist at CCOO and Deputy Chairman of Spainsif.

These experts analysed the challenges at national level in the field of sustainable finance, underlining the role of national financial supervision in the implementation of the European Action Plan, examples in Europe of national action plans on sustainable finance, and financial instruments and products geared towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), highlighting sustainable bond issues, occupational pension funds and financial innovation in credit products with ESG criteria for the financing of Spanish companies.

The second panel, moderated by Joaquín Garralda, featured Ana Ribero, Director of Sustainable Investment at Santander Wealth Management and Insurance; Manuel Fresno, Managing Director of Finance and Management Control at ADIF; Juan Bernal, Chairman of SpainNAB and CEO of CaixaBank AM; and Carlos López, CFO of Grupo Nueva Pescanova.

This panel examined the aspects that Spanish companies consider relevant and that should be included in the National Sustainable Finance Plan. Among them, the effects that climate regulation (Spanish Climate Change Law, EU Green Taxonomy) is currently having on bank financing and public companies in Spain; the implications of including clients' sustainability preferences in the MiFID II suitability test for the financial system; the role of the CFO in the new sustainable investment paradigm; and the alliances the generation of which would be beneficial for the Spanish ecosystem of financing based on ESG criteria.