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Minister Harris today launched the International Sustainable Finance Centre of Excellence, to deliver the skills necessary for the financial services community to finance a net-zero future.

The Centre will be an international hub from which the Irish-located finance community will develop its response to sustainability demands. Launched on the opening day of Climate Finance Week Ireland, the International Sustainable Finance Centre of Excellence is a key output of the Sustainable Finance Roadmap, which has been developed by Sustainable Finance Ireland in partnership with Skillnet Ireland, and in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Department of Finance and international partners. The Centre will lead on research, talent development and leadership activities to support the design and implementation of innovative financial mechanisms to facilitate the transition to a net zero economy in Ireland and internationally. The Centre will play a critical role in delivering the Sustainable Finance Roadmap and ‘Ireland for Finance Strategy 2025’ which aims to position Ireland as a global centre of sustainable finance by 2025.

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris said: “Sustainable finance is critical for Ireland’s future growth in financial services ensuring the industry has the skills needed to meet our climate objectives. This centre of excellence will help the planet, but it is essential to the future proofing of the economy. This centre will work with customers, colleagues and communities to support their transition to a resilient, net zero economy by 2050. The collaboration that has developed the centre is key. Those partnerships will support the sector’s future talent development needs and inspire new people to enter this relatively new area of work.”

Commenting on the launch, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohue said, “The reorientation of the financial system towards sustainability is only beginning but has a clear trajectory with real opportunities for countries, companies and communities that show leadership. The moment is right for leading financial centres to take a quantum leap to transition in this direction; in doing so, serve the needs of the real economy and support efforts at limiting climate change and biodiversity loss. Today’s launch of the International Sustainable Finance Centre of Excellence is a touchstone of the progress being made here in Ireland on this agenda and the implementation of the actions outlined in the 2021 Sustainable Finance Roadmap. Serving as a vital forum for public-private stakeholders to work together on this important agenda, not least supporting innovative product development, I welcome today’s launch.”

Marcos Netto, Director, UNDP Sustainable Finance Hub said: “The world now desperately needs an economic governance architecture which is deliberately designed to support governments, development agencies, civil society and the private sector to make decisions that prioritize investment in the Sustainable Development Goals. The International Sustainable Finance Centre of Excellence will help in addressing the challenge of the current finance model not working for both the people and the planet. In advance of the upcoming climate talks – COP27, its establishment is to be welcomed.”

Paul Healy, Chief Executive, Skillnet Ireland, said: “The establishment of the International Sustainable Finance Centre of Excellence will help position Ireland as a world leader in sustainable finance by developing the talent, knowledge and expertise needed by businesses. It is a key part of the Government’s Ireland for Finance Strategy 2025. Skillnet Ireland is committed to delivering initiatives that support industries to adopt sustainable practices and this launch is also a key step in achieving Ireland’s climate goals. We look forward to further research and international collaboration in the future to build on this vital step.”

Working with key stakeholders, it is planned the Centre will be fully operational by mid-January 2023. The Centre is among several activities being delivered throughout Ireland’s fifth Climate Finance Week; including supporting the launch of Ireland’s first sustainable finance fintech strategy; going live with the world’s first Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainable Finance for Compliance Professionals in partnership with Sustainable Finance Skillnet; and IFS Skillnet supporting the development of Ireland’s Sustainable Finance Roadmap Action Plan 2023. Alongside Skillnet Ireland, some of the firms that are supporting the work of Centre include AIB, Bank of Ireland, Deloitte, Eirgrid, FD, Goodbody, IDA Ireland, Irish Life Investment Managers, KPMG, Maples Group, Mazars, PTSB, PwC and TD Securities.

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