While Montreal is famous for its vibrant mix of culture, sports, academics and commerce, this historic city is also establishing itself as a global centre of sustainable finance, amplified by a business and financial community in which ESG runs deep.
Today, leading participants in sustainable finance are choosing ‘La Metropole” as a nucleus for their sustainability efforts. Scotiabank’s Sustainable Finance group works closely with these clients to integrate sustainability within financing objectives to accelerate impact through the use of innovative sustainable finance products and in 2023, welcomed its first sustainable finance professional to our Montreal office.
Montreal steps into sustainability spotlight
Montreal gained considerable profile as an established sustainable finance hub in April 2022 when the IFRS Foundation, the global accounting body, selected Montreal1 vs the new home for the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) Canadian operations. The importance of this office is clear when considering the role the Foundation will play in supporting the adoption of the inaugural sustainability disclosure standards released this past June2.
Montreal’s reputation as a centre for ESG increased even more in February 2023 when the City welcomed representatives from 188 governments for the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties on Biodiversity (COP15). Just like the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, the Biodiversity Conference brings together international stakeholders to accelerate policy and corporate action towards the conservation of the planet’s nature and biodiversity.
This event made headlines when the landmark Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework3 was reached, by which nations committed to adopt four goals, and 23 sub targets, to guide global action on nature through 2030.
“This agreement, also put in motion corporate commitments on biodiversity,” observed Fanny Doucet, Managing Director and Head of Sustainable Finance at Scotiabank. “It is expected to increase the alignment of financial flows with nature and drive related financing tools such as forest bonds and blue bonds.”
Montreal also hosts an annual two-day Sustainable Finance Summit, put on by the Quebec Government’s Finance Montréal initiative, to strengthen collaboration between actors in the province’s ESG ecosystem. Jarislowsky Fraser, the institutional investment management subsidiary of Scotiabank, has been a sponsor of this annual summit, which this year included keynote addresses by global thought leaders such as Mark Carney, Chair and Head of Transition Investing for Brookfield Asset Management, as well as the UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance. Attendees also took in innovative programming, including educational workshops from the French organization Climate Fresk.
“Montreal is developing as a unique sustainability hub. Knowledge collaboration within the ecosystem, along with the Sustainable Finance Summit are large contributors in growing expertise in ESG,” says Isabelle Laprise, Quebec Lead, Sustainable Investment Strategy at Jarislowsky Fraser. “Both the private and public sectors are mobilized to make sustainability a key tenet of the way they do business.”
Quebec-based companies welcome sustainable finance instruments
All of this aligns directly with the vision of Finance Montréal to establish Montreal as a centre for sustainable finance and differentiate the province by the depth of its expertise in sustainability. In fact, many Montreal-based organizations have structured sustainability-linked loans and many of them have also issued green or sustainability use of proceeds bonds. For example, the Province of Quebec, as well as several Quebec-based financial institutions, are green bond issuers. And, on the corporate side, the business community continues to affirm its commitment to sustainability, by embracing innovative products. For example, Scotiabank was pleased to have supported one such client, Bell, on its inaugural Sustainability Linked Derivative in May of this year, one of the first transactions of its kind in Canada.
Scotiabank’s Sustainable Finance team has been at the forefront of the sustainable finance market for several years, having built a team of sustainability and finance experts with technical expertise that spans a range of sectors, sustainability issues and financial products. Today, the dedicated group provides best-in-class structuring and execution advice while bringing the newest innovation to sophisticated markets like Quebec and the locally based businesses committed to advancing sustainability. And we’re proud to have been recognized for the work we do. In 2022, Scotiabank received ten sustainable finance awards, including Best Bank in Canada for Sustainable Finance from Global Finance which we received a second time earlier this year. This recognition helps to solidify our position as a leading Bank for sustainable finance across the Americas.
To help further advance the local ESG ecosystem, Scotiabank announced a $1.5 million donation4 to create the Sustainable Development Innovation Observatory as part of a new multi-disciplinary research complex at the University of Montreal. The Michael D. Penner Institute on ESG will support in-depth research on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.
“Scotiabank commends the Montreal community for its leadership on sustainable finance,” remarked Luc Ouellet, Managing Director and Head, Global Banking and Markets Quebec. “We aim to be a partner in the transition to a carbon-neutral economy, working closely with our clients in the local Quebec market to bring a sustainability lens to clients’ financing and strategic needs.”
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