Sustainability Leaders, presented by BMO, features interviews with leading sustainability practitioners from the corporate, investor, academic, and NGO communities. In each episode, we will explore how this rapidly evolving field is impacting global investment and our world. You’ll gain first-hand knowledge as hosts Michael Torrance and Manju Seal interview experts from around the world and bring the diverse perspectives to life with practical applications of sustainable concepts.
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Michael Torrance: Hi. My name is Michael Torrance. I’m Chief Sustainability Officer for BMO Financial Group from our offices in Toronto. I’m excited to share that we’re starting a podcast that we’re calling Sustainability Leaders. The purpose of the podcast is to bring together practitioners in the sustainability field who can talk about their experiences and what they’re working on to advance sustainable business practices globally. I’ll be joined by my colleagues, Manju in New York and David in London, who will assist me in hosting various episodes on topics that they are involved in a daily basis. David is the vice president for governance and sustainable investment with BMO Global Asset Management. Manju is BMO Financial Group’s Head of Sustainable Finance and BMO’s Capital Markets ESG lead. Here is a clip of a discussion that I had with Manju about sustainable finance.
Manju Seal: Traditional finance has historically looked at mostly solving problems for clients with the approach of maximizing profits. What sustainable finance is asking us to do is to create solutions for your clients with the lens of environmental, social and governance criteria. This approach essentially is expected to contribute towards developing and building a more circular and sustainable economy.
Michael Torrance: We want to learn from some of the leading thinkers in this field which is rapidly evolving and is very important to our business here at BMO. We’re going to speak to people who are experts in a wide variety of topics from integrated reporting to climate change to sustainable business practices, supply chain and procurement sustainability, human rights, environmental sustainability, and the list goes on. Here is a clip from a discussion with John Colas of Oliver Wyman during our interview in New York City on climate-related risk.
John Colas: There are also event-based scenarios which are important that are really looking at some of the closer in issues and risks associated with disruption around climate change and climate risk. Some of those could translate to opportunities for banks in terms of capital formation and lending, and some of those can also present risk to banks, so as you think about transition risks as we move toward a low-carbon economy, there could be a very smooth and orderly transition in terms of the adoption of electric vehicles, capital formation for new clean and green energy sources, and all of those actually present opportunities for the banking sector.
Michael Torrance: John led the team assisting the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative to develop a framework to assess and disclose climate-related risk factors tied to the financial stability board’s recommendations for the task force on climate-related financial disclosure. We’ll also be having Dan Krieter from BMO Capital Markets on the podcast to talk about his research around the green bond and sustainable bond markets.
Dan Krieter: So, in a lot of ways, the sustainability bond market reminds me of where green bonds was 4 years ago. There’s still more questions around what exactly is a sustainability bond is, what types of projects qualify for the proceeds of the sustainability bond, what type of disclosures are issuers expected to make, things like that, but we are seeing impressive growth in both markets. They’re just at two very different points in their maturation I guess is a good way of putting it.
Michael Torrance: We’re excited to bring you interviews from all over North America and the world. From London, we’ll talk with Nathan Fabian, rapporteur for the taxonomy group of the European Union technical expert group on sustainable finance.
Nathan Fabian: In Europe, there’s a high-level understanding by member state governments but also by citizens, I think, that there needs to be investment into their economy in a way that respects environmental issues and conditions through the growth of, say, the PRI and responsible investment generally, and it’s been growing rapidly for over a decade. Policy makers are much more confident that investors and financiers know what they’re talking about when they’re trying to link sustainability to economic development, and so this need for environmentally sensitive economic development and this recognition that markets are getting the idea encouraged the European Union to move forward with clear policies.
Michael Torrance: The first interview will launch next week, but you can subscribe right now to the podcast for free on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast app so that you’ll get the first episode delivered as soon as it is released. For more info on who we are, visit us at bmo.com/sustainability leaders. We’re excited to have you with us as we explore the rapidly evolving world of sustainability and the innovation that makes it happen.