Past SSF Events 2019

Building Bridges Summit

Geneva, 10 October 2019

The Building Bridges Summit, organised jointly by Sustainable Finance Geneva, Swiss Sustainable Finance and the Geneva Financial Center, was a huge success bringing together around 900 delegates and having a strong media echo. Organised during the week of the annual meeting of the International Network of Financial Centers for Sustainability (FC4S) the event was able to benefit from the presence of some thirty members of the FC4S network.

With the aim to maximize our collective impact by building bridges between Swiss experts from finance and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the event covered many current topics relevant for the sustainable finance industry and attracted high-level speakers, such as Ueli Maurer (President of the Swiss Confederation), Tatiana Valovaya (Director-General, UN Geneva Office) and Sergio Ermotti (CEO, UBS group). It was a perfect platform to learn, exchange and develop ideas.

The Summit also served as a platform for SSF to launch the brochure Switzerland for Sustainable Finance – Transforming finance for a better world, produced by SSF in a joint project with Swiss Bankers Association (SBA), Swiss Funds & Asset Management Association (SFAMA) and Swiss Insurance Association (SIA), which provides a comprehensive overview of Switzerland’s unique strengths in sustainable finance.

This Summit is both an incentive and a genuine call to each individual and institution: “Are you a bridge builder?”

View full programme

Morning event gallery


Afternoon event gallery


Finanza sostenibile, una questione solo etica?

Vezia, 25 September 2019

Ticino for Finance, in collaboration with Swiss Sustainable Finance (SSF), organized a public conference on the topic of sustainable finance, welcoming around 70 participants at Villa Negroni in Vezia. Experts and SSF members Stefano Montobbio (Research Director & Global Head of Research Governance, EFG Asset Management) Vincent Kaufmann (Director, Ethos Foundation) and Alberto Stival (Director PR & Communications, SSF) not only discussed the environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues behind sustainable finance, but also highlighted the profitability and market logic behind sustainable investments as well as the findings from SSF's recent market study.


To download the presentations click on the names of the speakers:

Slides Alberto Stival (Italian)

Slides Stefano Montobbio (Italian)

Slides Vincent Kaufmann (French)

SSF Annual Conference 2019: Transformation towards a future-proof financial system

BERN, 19 June

The SSF Annual Conference 2019, where SSF also celebrated its 5-year anniversary, attracted a record number of 200 participants from different industries and backgrounds. The highlight of the day was the opening keynote by Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation, who spoke about what he considers key approaches on the road to a sustainable and competitive Swiss financial sector. While it is the industry’s responsibility to develop and implement high-quality sustainable finance solutions in Switzerland, he highlighted that this requires clear definitions and supportive framework conditions, which the government can help facilitate.

Moderator Amanda Ammann then invited three start-ups to the stage. Mobility optimization by Bestmile, Yova AG’s digital sustainable investing platform, and renewable high-altitude wind energy by Skypull represent three promising innovations for a sustainable future. A panel with Kristen Dunlop (CEO EIT Climate-Kic), Annalise Eggimann( CEO Innosuisse) and Ralph Mogicato (Entrepeneur and Angel Investor, Vice President SICTIC), discussed specific barriers for start-ups when trying to establish themselves in markets and society. The panellist agreed there are still considerable misalignments today when it comes to investor expectations for the growth and exit phase of start-ups, and that certain larger systemic issues must also be addressed in order to foster an ecosystem that can generate the solutions necessary to meet sustainability goals.


After a short coffee break, the focus of the conference turned to the current regulatory developments on the EU level. Sven Gentner (Head of Asset Management Unit at the European Commission's DG FISMA) provided the most recent news from Brussels and gave detailed insights into the latest reports on three legislative measures. With this input, panellists Claudia Emele (CEO Avadis Anlagestiftung and CIO Avadis Vorsorge), Markus Fuchs (Managing Director SFAMA) and Pascal Zbinden (Co-Head SAA & Markets Swiss Re) joined Sven Gentner on stage and looked into what these fast-paced regulatory developments mean for Switzerland. The Swiss players first explained their own experiences in sustainable finance and then proceeded to discuss the implications of the different elements of EU regulation in detail. Questions stemming from moderator Sabine Döbeli as well as from an active audience addressed differences in Swiss and EU approaches and the challenges seen by the industry. In the end, it became evident that the environment for Swiss financial players is changing, but that players are working together to make sure the Swiss Financial Centre remains competitive in this changing environment.

The event was closed by illustrator Roland Siegenthaler, who creatively and whimsically summarized the event with caricature images and concise remarks (download illustrations).

Recordings of the sessions can be accessed on our YouTube channel.


Market Study Launch Events in Zurich and Geneva

Zurich, 3 June & Geneva, 4 june

On June 3 and 4, SSF presented the results of the Swiss Sustainable Investment Market Study 2019 to 200 professionals at back-to-back events in Zurich and Geneva. In Zurich, Jean-Daniel Gerber (President, SSF) opened the event with a few welcome remarks and then handed over to Sabine Döbeli (CEO, SSF), who gave a few words on the powerful images by Swiss photographers found in the study. With these images, SSF aimed to highlight the human dimension behind the pressing climate challenges and encourage better-informed investment decisions to help alleviate these challenges. In Geneva, Angela de Wolff (Vice President, SSF) and Jean Laville (Deputy CEO, SSF) provided the welcome notes.

At both events, Timo Busch, (Prof. at the University of Zurich), presented the findings of the market survey, showing not just how Swiss SI had reached CHF 716.6 billion by the end 2019 and become more widespread, but also giving insights into the different SI approaches and market perceptions. Subsequently, Kelly Hess (Director Projects, SSF) gave an overview of the regulatory developments in the past year, where a strong acceleration of various initiatives, such as EU Action Plan and Swiss parliamentary initiatives, became increasingly visible.

Each event closed with a panel of experts. In Zurich, the panel convened under the title of “Wachtstum mit Wirkung?” and consisted of Esther Peiner (Managing Director, Partners Group), Jacqueline Oh (Director, SVVK), Andreas Knörzer (Vice Chairman, Vontobel Asset Management) and Rolf Helbling (Co-Founder and Portfolio Manager, Carnot Capital). The panelists agreed that SI has now entered mainstream and considered it positive that the market is finally scaling up sustainable investing. However, even though this positions the Swiss SI industry in the right direction, the impact of the investments was discussed more critically. The speakers explained their processes and SI approaches such as ESG integration, ESG engagement or thematic funds, and debated if and how these different approaches have an impact in the real economy.  


In Geneva, Jean Laville welcomed Fiona Frick (CEO, Unigestion), Emmanuelle Javoy (Head Impact Measurement, Symbiotics) and Vincent Kaufmann (CEO, Ethos Foundation) to the podium discussion. The panelist portrayed the main SI approaches of their companies, ESG integration, impact investing and ESG engagement, and gave practical examples of their companies’ products and strategies. In engaging discussions with the audience, they also debated the impact of the growth of the different SI approaches, as well as the implications of these approaches on performance.

What became apparent from both discussions was that with climate dominating the impact discussions, the financial industry needs to demonstrate not only the sustainability of their portfolio, but also how investors can actually contribute concrete solutions in response to the climate crisis.


To conclude the events, with thanks conveyed to the respondents, sponsors, SSF workgroup members and research partners of the study, discussions continued during the subsequent networking apéros.

The full Swiss Sustainable Investment Market Study 2019 is available in English (full version), French (summary) and German (summary).

Download event presentation, Zurich (German)

Download event presentation, Geneva (English)


Sustainability and technological development – two trends, one opportunity for the Zurich financial sector?

Zurich, 13 May

With its strong financial sector and Switzerland's generally high level of sustainability awareness, the Zurich economic area offers ideal prerequisites for sustainable finance. At the same time, Zurich is developing into a dynamic Fintech hub. How can sustainable finance and technology be successfully combined?

Over 150 participants joined the public event organized by the Stadtentwicklung Zürich, in cooperation with Swiss Sustainable Finance and the Zürcher Bankenverband, to discuss this question. After a welcome note by Corine Mauch, Mayor of the City of Zurich, Manuel Rybach, Global Head of Public Affairs and Policy at Credit Suisse and Tillman Lang, CEO and Co-Founder at Start-up Yova, presented real-life business cases where fintech and sustainable finance are already combined.

Subsequently, Cornelis van der Lugt, Senior Associate, BSD Consulting, presented the results of the United Nations Environment Programm study Green Digital Finance – Mapping Current Practice and Potential in Switzerland and Beyond, showing Switzerland’s strengths but also identifying a gap in the current application of digital innovations to sustainable finance.


In a podium moderated by Sabine Döbeli, CEO, SSF, four experts consequently debated the challenges and experiences they encounter when bringing technology and sustainable finance together. The different perspectives included the government’s position presented by David Gerber, Head Market Policy and Deputy Head National Coordination, State Secretariat for International Finance (SIF), and a view on the framework conditions and entrepreneurship culture in Switzerland by Andreas Iten, Co-Founder & Board Member, F10 FinTech Incubator and Accelerator. Martin Weymann, Head Sustainability, Emerging & Political Risk Management at Swiss Re and Philipp Aeby, CEO of RepRisk each gave examples of applications developed in the corporate world that already use technology, such as machine learning or satellite imagery. The participants agreed that Zurich and Switzerland in general provide fertile ground for leveraging technology into sustainable finance, but also highlighted the need to increase the interfaces between the two areas.

With a call to connect and innovate in this still nascent intersection, the panel handed the word to Anna Schindler, Director, Stadtentwicklung Zürich, who closed the event stating that the City of Zurich is looking forward to laying the groundwork for vibrant a digital sustainable finance community in Zurich. The event was rounded out by a network apéro.

Download presentation Manuel Rybach

Download presentation Tillmann Lang

Download presentation Cornelis van der Lugt


ESG integration in investment management

Geneva, 21 March

At this joint CFA & SSF event in Geneva, 90 participants were present for the launch of the regional report ESG integration in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa: Markets, practices and data and in-depth discussions about how companies are defining and implementing ESG Integration approaches. Jean Laville (Deputy CEO, SSF) and Christian Dreyer (CEO, CFA Society) opened the event with welcome notes from both organisations.

Matt Orsagh (Director Capital Markets Policy, CFA Institute) followed with a presentation of the key findings of the regional study. The study, based on extensive interviews, surveys, workshops and data from the PRI reporting framework, showed regional differences in the level of understanding and implementation of ESG integration, as well as on perceived key drivers and barriers. While risk management was listed as one key driver over most regions, other drivers such as client demand, regulation and generation of alpha varied from region to region.

After this overview, a specific case study of ESG integration in Fixed income was presented by Christopher Greenwald (Head of Research Sustainable and Impact Investing, UBS). The UBS case study can be found in the CFA/PRI publication Guidance and case studies for ESG integration: equities and fixed income. In his presentation, Christopher discussed how ESG integration, originally exclusively used for equity research, is now also an important topic for fixed income investments. When showing correlations between credit ratings and ESG ratings and methods to look for opportunities to generate alpha, he explained how important it is for teams looking at traditional credit analysis to work together with dedicated ESG specialists.


To gain even more practical insights, Eric Borremans (Head of ESG, Pictet AM) and Nicolas Jamet (Senior Quantitative Analyst, RAM Active Investments) joined Christopher on a panel moderated by Kelly Hess (Senior Project Manager, SSF). The panelists emphasized the importance that a company’s ESG Integration approach should be systematic and focus on material ESG factors.

They also agreed that over the years, there has been a shift in the interactions with clients, who are becoming ever more sophisticated on the topic. In this contexts, it is particularly useful to have specific examples to share. A big challenge in the industry is the terminology within Sustainable Finance that can potentially confuse clients. With regard to data availability, there was clear consensus that although the ESG data may not yet be perfect or “investment-ready”, there is already a lot that can be done with the data. It is up to asset managers to have a solid process that identifies the relevant information.

The event ended with a networking lunch where participants continued discussions.

Launch of natural capital risk framework for financial institutions

zurich, 16 january

Together with the Natural Capital Finance Alliance (NCFA), SSF co-organised a launch event for the newly available guide “Integrating Natural Capital in Risk Assessments”, the first step-by-step guide to help financial institutions conduct a rapid natural capital risk assessment. At the fully-booked event, hosted by UBS, 80 professionals gathered to learn more about the guide and the online tool ENCORE, a project funded by SECO and MAVA Foundation. These tools enable practitioners to better understand and assess their natural capital exposures.

After opening notes from Liliana de Sà Kirchknopf (Head of Private Sector Development Division, SECO), Sabine Döbeli (CEO, SSF) and Christian Leitz (Head of Corporate Responsibility management, UBS), event chair Anders Nordheim (Programme Leader, Ecosystems and Sustainable land use, UNEP FI) kicked-off the presentations and introduced the speakers.

Katie Leach (Senior Programme Officer, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre) presented an in-depth look into the ENCORE tool and the vast knowledgebase behind it. She showed how users can apply the tool to visualise economic dependencies on nature and how environmental change creates risks for businesses. The tool covers 167 economic sectors on a global scale, and helps banks better analyse, measure and report on their exposure to natural capital (i.e. water, forests and clean air) and related risks and opportunities.

To give an overview of the new guide, Jon Williams (Partner, Sustainability & Climate Change, PwC), took the floor, explaining PwC’s work with pilot banks in preparing the report. Collaborating with banks located in areas heavily affected by environmental stresses, such as South America and South Africa, was a success factor to define key elements of the report.


Following these two input presentations, in a panel moderated by Eric Usher (Head of UNEP FI), first-hand experiences and insights from practitioners were presented. Liselotte Arni (Head of Environmental and Social Risk, UBS) and Madeleine Ronquest (Head of Environmental and Social Risk, FirstRand) joined Jon Williams on the panel. Madeleine pointed out how important the topic is for their bank, as South African banks generally have substantial exposure to agriculture and mining. When lending to such industries, banks must be fully aware of the natural capital risks to avoid financial losses should clients default and return unusable land/assets to the bank. The panel also agreed that artificial intelligence and smart data collection will be key to make the process more efficient, considering that we have yet to leverage on alternative sources of data. Additionally, the panel discussed how the language used when addressing this issue must focus on strategic risks, in order to sensitise management to the fact that natural capital risks are indeed to be looked at on a corporate level and not only in niche products.

The event closed with a networking lunch, during which many participants could continue their discussions and connect with the experts and their peers.

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