Australia makes final call for applications to join ‘national HLEG’ on sustainable finance

Successful candidates will help develop country’s sustainable finance strategy

Australia’s financial sector is seeking “expressions of interest” from the market to join a steering committee to oversee the development of a national Sustainable Finance Road Map, in a bid to emulate the EU’s Action Plan on sustainable finance and the High Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance (HLEG). 
The process is being convened by National Australia Bank and Australian insurer IAG, with the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIIA) acting as secretariat.  
In an invitation put to the Australian market late last month it describes the country as being in the “perfect position” to join the growing number of countries around the world “working to establish themselves as leaders in green and sustainable finance”.
Both HLEG and the UK’s Green Finance Taskforce are cited in the invitation as “early movers”, along with references to Luxembourg and France’s recently announced sustainable finance roadmaps.
The steering committee, which is expected to have 12-16 members, will focus on developing policy recommendations to align Australia’s finance sector with the “delivery of resilient and sustainable economies” over the next year. This includes, it states, alignment with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Simmon O’Connor, CEO at RIAA, told RI: “We have been working on establishing an equivalent of HLEG for Australia since July, when we co-hosted the UNEP-FI conference, along with the PRI and IGCC”.
It was at this event that Australia’s leading associations from the banking, insurance and investment sectors – representing over A$10trn (€6.39trn) in assets – issued a joint statement calling on Australia and New Zealand to keep pace with Europe and develop their own sustainable finance roadmaps.O’Connor told RI that he anticipates that the new steering group will have “a cross section of insurers, banks, and investors, along with appropriate civil society representatives”.
He added that there has been “strong interest” from regulators and “elements of government”, too, who may participate in the process as “observers”.
In addition to the steering group, there will be an Expert Technical Working Group, a Thematic Working Group and a Stakeholder Review Group, to be appointed later.
The steering committee will provide “direction” to these other technical working groups to ensure that the “outcomes of the Roadmap development process are informed, appropriate and implementable”.
Expression of interest must be submitted by the 12 December. Successful candidates will be invited to join by 20 December and will be expected to commit to the process for 12-18 months.
They will also be expected to provide resources defined as “time, in-kind contribution and financial contributions”.
Successful applicants will be chosen against defined selection criteria, including the need for relevant sustainability experience and a role at “organisations active in sustainable finance in Australia”.
The first meeting of the steering committee, at which the recommendations for the “governance structure, resourcing, and work plan will be presented”, has been slated for February 2019.
Once established, the steering committee will seek expressions of interest from individuals to join the other working groups.
Canada has also followed the EU’s example and created a working group to advise policymakers on how to strengthen sustainable finance in the country. It launched its initial recommendations in October.