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Climate Finance Week 2023

The 20th to the 24th of November, saw the 6th annual Climate Finance Week (CFWI23) take place in Dublin, with many events taking place, across the five days.

The theme this year was “Exploring a Sustainable and Just Economic Transition”, which reflects the ongoing commitment to ESG principles and the need to propel the sustainable agenda in years to come. It also highlighted biodiversity as a new strategic imperative.

The event saw an impressive list of speakers such as European Commissioner Mairead McGuinness, Michael Bloomberg, Mark Carney, Mary Schapiro, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, Paschal Donohoe, T.D, and more.

Our Senior ESG & Sustainability Consultant Darina Heavey attended several of the events and will here give some extracts from them.

Monday 20th November

The week was kicked off with the highly anticipated ‘It’s time to act’ – AIB 7th Sustainability Conference featuring Trevor Noah (Comedian, Best-selling Author, Producers and Philanthropist) and The Rt. Hon. Dame Jacinda Ardern (Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Senior Fellow, Harvard University). An event available to attend both in person and online.

Two very personal conversations hosted and moderated by Dearbhail McDonald.

Trevor gave a frank and honest account of his childhood and how comedy can break barriers and unite people.

Dame Jacinda Ardern gave us a fascinating insight into how her road to politics and subsequent election as Prime Minister for New Zealand wasn’t an obvious or straight one.

Both spoke of the good and the bad and what they have planned for the future.

Tuesday 21st November

100 Women in Finance ‘Early Career Dublin: The Rise of Female Entrepreneurs in Sustainability’.

In the morning we attended the 100 Women in Finance ‘Early Career Dublin: The Rise of Female Entrepreneurs in Sustainability’ event hosted by ISFCOE – International Sustainable Finance Centre of Excellence. It offered a great and lively discussion between panelists Cathy Bryce (AIB), Sandra Healy (Inclusio), Mamobo Ogoro (GORM), Ann Shiels (FinLexSus), and Aisling McCaffrey (Moderator, Grant Thornton).

Participants were treated to insights from all four entrepreneurs who have focused their businesses on addressing the challenges under ESG and got to listen to their journeys to entrepreneurship, lessons they learnt along the way and what they hope to achieve through their organisations.

How to Transition Finance will make or break our Net-zero future.

Interesting conversation between Patrick Burke (Managing Director, Irish Life Investment Management), Jan-Hein van den Akker (Head of Equity & ESG Integration, Europe & AMEA, Mercer), and Colin Hunt (CEO, AIB), discussing the critical role of transition finance in shaping our journey toward a sustainable, Net-Zero future.

Colin Hunt spoke of how ‘Sustainability Financing’ is at the centre of AIB Group strategy and said that “sustainability financing is the single biggest opportunity for banking for the future, with a 70% green lending target by 2030”.

Significantly, he also stated that “businesses not taking sustainability seriously will not be in business in ten years’ time” and how “the future challenge is talent search. Securing talent such as Data Analytics, Auditors, and climate experts”.

Patrick Burke spoke of how ILIM has transitioned 100% of its Discretionary fund into Level 8. Comprising of €50b of their AUM. He also stated that climate action is both necessary and an opportunity for capital growth, and how pensions and savings need to be aligned with climate transition.

Wednesday 22nd November 29, 2023

Financing the Climate Action Plan

This live stream event, held in partnership with the National Treasury Management Agency, was split up into two panel sessions:

  • Panel 1 – ISIF – Financing the energy transition.
  • Panel 2 – NewERA – Sustainable Mobility.

Both very interesting and insightful, looking at what contributions have been made to date across the energy and climate tech sectors. Also, what progress has been made within the transport industry to keep up with the broader Climate Action Plan,

Navigating the S & G of ESG

On Wednesday evening we attended the exclusive Waystone and Green Team Network event ‘Navigating the S & G of ESG’. It saw panelists Philip Lovegrove (Partner, Matheson), Andrew Kehoe (CEO, Waystone Ireland Management Company Solutions), Catherine Smith McKiernan (Owner, CSM Consulting & Group HR Director EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum), and Ann Shiels (Founder, FinLexSus) delve into a number of topics linked to climate finance, and the broader sustainable finance, agenda.


  • “Staff are now asking “what is my company doing for sustainability now”.
  • “Keeping diversity in your business, not only offers gender balance, but it will also help to retain good talent”.
  • “If we have strategic thinkers for sustainability on the board, then this will pass through the executives into the business”.
  • “Governance and Social are intertwined and must be linked to the strategic direction of the company”.

A great conversation on how they deal with governance structures and how they aim to support environmental and social issues.

Thursday 23rd November

Nature as a Stakeholder in Financial Decision-Making (William Fry)

The morning session hosted by William Fry in partnership with CDP Ireland, looked at the importance of biodiversity, and what it means for investors and companies in general. A very interesting discussion urging companies to recognize its impact and how early adoption could prove essential.

Great discussion between Dorian Fougères (Senior Nature Lead for Europe, CDP), Brian O’Kennedy (CEO, Clearstream Solutions), Nessa Joyce (Consultant, William Fry), Katie Heston (Biodiversity Lead, Cleastream Solutions), and Lucy Gaffney (Platform Development Lead, Business For Biodiversity Ireland)

Lucy Gaffney from Business for Biodiversity Ireland said that “companies need to carry on even if their data is not perfect”. She also advocated that “sustainability teams need space to create a strategy, and that it requires a fundamental mindset shift”.

Friday 24th November

CSRD Sandbox S Deep Dive (KPMG Platform X)

Our attendance at this year’s CFWI23 was rounded off at the last morning session of the week, featuring a focused conversation between KPMG Participants Kristina Kouros (EMA Human Rights Lead, KPMG Finland), Liudmila Chambers (KPMG UK), and Sarah Moran.

It aimed at giving participants a better understanding of the ‘S’ in CSRD, the social criteria and how companies can refine their approach to the social components of their organisational sustainability reporting.

What a week! Many thanks to all the speakers and congratulations to everyone involved in making this event such a success.

CFWI23 was organised by the International Sustainable Finance Centre of Excellence in association with the Department of Finance and supported by Skillnet Ireland and sponsored by AIB.

If you wish to speak to us about your ESG and Sustainability recruitment requirements, contact Darina Heavey at today.