CIIPA, Rewired Earth partner to host Climate Week NYC
The Cayman Islands Institute of Professional Accountants and Rewired Earth are pleased to have partnered to participate in one of the largest climate action events on earth — Climate Week NYC.
CIIPA and Rewired Earth on 22 Sept. launched Warrior Accountants, Trailblazer Lawyers and using the financial markets as a force for good, a live webinar focused on driving sustainability through investment and the role international financial centres like the Cayman Islands play. The webinar was delivered as part of Climate Week NYC, an annual summit that brings together international business, policy and advocacy leaders to discuss issues surrounding global climate action.
Moderated by international broadcast journalist Nik Gowing, the webinar featured keynote speeches from The Lord McNicol of West Kilbride, Chancery Advisors’ Dan Harris and CIIPA Chief Executive Officer, Sheree Ebanks.
The panel featured a mix of experts across the accounting, investing and legal sectors, including St. James’s Place Director of Investments Robert Gardner, Ogier Partner Joanna Huckle, PwC Disruption and Innovation Partner and Rewired Earth Co-founder David Marriage and KPMG IMPACT Senior Manager Staci Scott.
Discussion topics ranged from the need to create consumer and investor demand for sustainable products and companies to the obstacles involved with collecting reliable sustainability data they can use.
“I do think money can be a force for good,” said Gardner, adding that SJP’s sustainable and renewable fund is the company’s fastest growing and estimated to reach to $25 billion in the next two to three years. “No company is good or bad. It’s about understanding what the issues are and how can you engage with those businesses to make them better.”
The issues, however, can be difficult to pinpoint without proper data, panellists said. Unlike a company’s financial data — which is compiled using globally accepted accounting industry practices and standards and is audited before being made public — there is no such framework for non-financial reporting.
“None of those statements is true for sustainability data,” Marriage said. “We don’t know what’s going on in the supply chain [of a company]. We don’t know whether the cobalt in my phone was mined by a small child who died the next day or was mined by an adult whose child is in school, who has access to the right healthcare, equipment and a fair wage. Until we do, we don’t know the social impact. And the same is true on carbon and biodiversity.
“While everybody’s trying to do the right things for the right reasons, there’s no consistency because there is no standard.”
With a proper standard and reporting framework in place, ESG information disclosed by companies — complete with information on its supply chain partners and plans for sustainable and inclusive hiring practices — would help paint a more accurate picture of a company’s business practices, panellists said. It also reduces the reliance on ratings providers that are often accused of issuing ratings without complete or comprehensive information.
“Investors are demanding sustainability disclosures that are just as rigorous as financial disclosures,” Scott said. “Some may argue that perhaps these sustainability disclosures are even more important given what’s at stake.”
How does Cayman come into play? As a leading international financial centre with a robust and mature financial services industry, nearly 80% of the world’s hedge funds are believed to be domiciled in Cayman.
“We do have a huge opportunity here. We have over 28,000 regulated investment funds here,” Huckle said. “So Cayman has an opportunity to really shape how ESG develops — how it evolves — and looking at what impact can we have as a jurisdiction, as an alternative investment industry, on the global fight against destructive climate change.”
View the full webinar here.
Issued by: Cayman Islands Institute of Professional Accountants (CIIPA)