Deutsche Bank, Moody’s and BlackRock join Germany’s sustainable finance advisory body

Members warn social factors must not be forgotten and call for a strong German voice on the EU stage.

Experts from across the finance industry, the real economy, NGOs and academia have been appointed to the German government’s sustainable finance advisory body as it plans a strategy refresh.

Of the 34 members of the body, known in German as the Sustainable Finance Beirat, 13 served on its previous iteration. These include Kristina Jeromin, managing director of the Green and Sustainable Finance Cluster Germany, who stood as a candidate for the Green Party in Germany’s federal election last year; and social taxonomy rapporteur Antje Schneeweiß.

New appointees include Julia Haake, managing director of market strategy at Moody’s ESG; Birgit Ludwig, COO for Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe at BlackRock; and Michael Diederich, spokesman of the management board of HypoVereinsbank – UniCredit.

Silke Stremlau, a director at Hanoverian pension fund Hannoversche Kassen, has been nominated as chair by the government, and her appointment is due to be voted on at a meeting on Friday.

Stremlau said she welcomed the diversity and high level of expertise among the newly appointed members. “In recent years, the EU has introduced a lot of regulation in the areas of ESG and sustainable finance, which now needs further implementation and fine tuning,” she added. “I would like a strong voice for consistent sustainability to come out of the financial market in Germany. The yardstick for all activities must be whether they help solve our global ecological and social challenges, and whether we respect and preserve the planet.”

Germany’s sustainable finance industry body FNG is notable for its absence from the government’s new list. Its head, Angela McClellan, was a member of the previous board but departed in February to join PwC and her replacement is not among the new members. Other departures include Clara Mokry from Germany’s nuclear decommissioning investment fund KENFO and Petra Pflaum, CIO for responsible investments and EMEA co-head of Equities at DWS.

The body, which is responsible for advising the German government on its ambition to turn the country into a “leading centre for sustainable finance”, came to blows with the previous “grand coalition” administration after its sustainable finance strategy failed to take into account many of the group’s recommendations. Its previous vice chairs – Jeromin and Stremlau – called the strategy “disappointing” and “not too ambitious”, respectively.

However, the new government has taken a reconciliatory tone, with sustainable finance making its first ever appearance in a coalition agreement, which promises to implement “a credible sustainable finance strategy”.

Gerald Podobnik, CFO of Deutsche Bank’s corporate bank, said that his experiences during the first iteration of the body had shown “how effective such a diverse group of experts can be in advancing sustainable finance”.

Podobnik, who has been reappointed, said the group would “aim to advise on creating the building blocks for sustainable finance: policy frameworks, research and knowledge building, company reporting, development of sustainable financial products and monitoring bodies”.

HypoVereinsbank’s Diederich also stressed the need to look beyond environmental considerations. “It will be important for us not to forget the ‘S’ component of ESG, as the social aspect of sustainability grows increasingly prominent”, he said. “It is the S part that allows us to support impactful projects and people while we build towards a more sustainable and equitable future.”