Newly launched Romanian sustainable finance body bolsters green investments
Founded by Theodor Cojoianu, Assistant Professor in Finance, Queen's University Belfast and Member, EU Platform for Sustainable Finance, Ioana Subasu, Senior Associate, Impact-Cubed Analytics and Investments and Vasile Alecsandru Strat, Dean, Bucharest Business School, the association in Romania will focus on providing expert knowledge on responsible investing, financing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and seek solutions to the climate crisis. Ioana Subasu, one of the co-founders of the association, said the association will fill a large gap in terms of knowledge on the opportunities in responsible investments for the country.
Subasu said, “Our main goal is to be an open-minded, apolitical engagement platform, providing research and working with the European Union to bring more visibility to Eastern Europe. Currently, there is not a lot of research happening in Romania and we plan to start off by having an event to introduce us, gathering market sentiment, and doing a state-of-the-market research on the country. We would like to create a dialogue on sustainability among the industry players such as legislators, investors such as asset owners and asset managers and associations such as NGOs in Romania and Central Eastern Europe, right down to retail investors.”
The association’s board advisors comprise experts in the sustainable investment domain: Linda Zeilina, founder and CEO, International Sustainable Finance Centre, Sean Kidney, CEO, Climate Bonds Initiative and Member of the EU Platform for Sustainable Finance, Martina MacPherson, head of ESG strategy at ODDO BHF Asset Management, Andreas Hoepner, professor of operational risk, University College Dublin and an academic member of the EU Platform for Sustainable Finance and Antti Savilaakso, partner and head of research at Impact-Cubed Analytics and Investments.
Subasu pointed out that there has been some interest from institutional investors in Romania, but mostly from a project finance perspective. “There are commendable efforts being made but it needs to be more centralised and focused. In terms of sustainability, there has been an effort to increase company reporting, where companies with a staff of 500+ people are mandated to report on non-financial aspects, mostly pertaining to their governance. Romania is a small financial market, where the government is the biggest investor, since a big part of the population comprises of civil servants with public pensions. There are multiple pension tiers, and it is outsourced to international asset managers like NN Investment Partners and a few smaller national ones. Private pensions are not popular yet and there is a distrust among the public in investments,” she told Asset News.
The association looks forward to the challenge of convincing investors to shift away from fossil fuels for energy and prepare policies and actions to align to the EU Green Deal and report on Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), issue climate bonds and generally generate a conceptual switch in how we are thinking about sustainability in finance, said Subasu. “There is definitely more accountability and transparency needed, especially when large corporations illegally and unknowingly occupy forests throughout their supply chain. We want to look at how capital allocation can change the course of forest preservation,” added the co-founder of the association.
The association will initially focus on Romania but will also look at working together with likeminded organisations from other Central Easter European countries such as Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary and perhaps, the Baltic countries.