Insights from SSFF 2024

Publication Date: 30/05/2024

Transforming South Africa’s Financial Landscape: Insights from the Scaling Sustainable Finance Forum

Bongiwe Kunene

MD of the Banking Association South Africa

The Scaling Sustainable Finance Forum, held from May 27-28, 2024, at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, marked a significant milestone in South Africa’s journey towards a greener and more resilient financial future. Organised by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Banking Association South Africa (BASA), this high-level event gathered thought leaders, policymakers, and industry experts to explore and address the pressing challenges and immense opportunities within sustainable finance.

A Collaborative Effort for Sustainable Progress

The forum highlighted the collaborative efforts between BASA and IFC under the auspices of the 30by30 Zero Program. This initiative, funded by the Federal Republic of Germany, aims to bolster climate risk assessment, mitigation, and adaptation practices among financial institutions in South Africa. The primary goal is to promote investments in green and climate-friendly sectors, thereby aiding South Africa in fulfilling its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement and the National Development Plan.

Key Highlights and Insights

  1. Raising Awareness and Exploring Challenges:
    The event served as a platform to raise awareness and delve into the common challenges and opportunities sustainable finance presents in South Africa. Keynote speakers and panellists shared their insights on various aspects of sustainable finance, from climate risk management to innovative financial instruments like blue bonds and green loans.
  2. Showcasing Achievements:
    The IFC-World Bank 30by30 Zero Program’s achievements were showcased as a beacon of successful collaborations in South Africa, Egypt, Mexico, and the Philippines. These case studies demonstrated the potential of sustainable finance to drive positive environmental and social outcomes and inspired the audience about the transformative power of collective action.
  3. Vision for the Financial Sector:
    Day 1 of the forum was dedicated to shaping a new vision for the financial sector through sustainable finance. The high-level discussions centred on national policies, private sector initiatives, and the role of financial institutions in supporting a low-carbon economy painted an optimistic picture of the future. Thematic workshops on Day 2 provided more profound insights into specific areas such as climate-smart agriculture, green buildings, and carbon markets, further reinforcing this positive outlook.
  4. Networking and Collaboration:
    The event emphasised the importance of building robust partnerships across various sectors. By fostering collaboration among stakeholders from the public and private sectors, academia, and civil society, the forum laid the groundwork for a more integrated approach to sustainable finance.

Concrete Actions for a Sustainable Future

In her opening remarks, BASA’s Managing Director, Bongi Kunene, expressed a profound sense of accomplishment and a shared purpose. The forum was not just about sharing information but also about catalysing collaboration and concrete actions. The energy and engagement throughout the event underscored a collective commitment to transforming discussions into real-world impacts.

The workshops offered valuable insights into critical topics such as climate risk management, blue finance, and innovations in sustainable finance. These sessions were enriched by all attendees’ active participation and notable contributions, reflecting a strong commitment to driving sustainable finance forward.

Looking Ahead: Continuing the Momentum

The knowledge and networks established during the forum are essential for a sustainable future. As Ms. Kunene emphasised, the critical conversations initiated here should continue on platforms like the Sustainable Finance Initiative and the upcoming G20 Summit. South Africa, under the leadership of BASA and IFC, has a unique opportunity to spearhead the global push for sustainable finance.

Acknowledgements

On behalf of BASA and IFC, Thabang Chiloane, BASA’s Head of Financial Inclusion and Public Policy, extended heartfelt gratitude to all participants, including the IFC, the World Bank, the German Government through the International Climate Initiative (IKI), the National Treasury, and the Sustainable Finance Initiative Steering Committee Members. The forum’s success was a testament to the collective effort and dedication of all involved.

Conclusion

The Scaling Sustainable Finance Forum 2024 was a pivotal event that underscored the critical role of sustainable finance in shaping a resilient and equitable future. By fostering collaboration, sharing knowledge, and committing to concrete actions, South Africa is poised to lead the way in sustainable finance, ensuring a prosperous future for future generations.

For more information, visit the Sustainable Finance Initiative and IFC.