May 4, 2022
European development finance institutions’ (EDFI) E&S and Impact Spring meeting brought both environmental & social sustainability and impact specialists together on 25-27 April in Helsinki.
The meeting consisted of three days full of discussions and knowledge sharing on climate change policies and practices in mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity, human rights, impact management, and so forth.
“For many, this was the first face-to-face meeting after a long time after the travel restrictions caused by COVID-19. We have close cooperation both on an investment and thematic level, but it has simply been amazing to meet and discuss in person after such a long time. We are very glad to have so many old and new colleagues to join us in Helsinki,” said Kaisa Alavuotunki, Director for Impact and Sustainability at Finnfund.
Some thoughts from the meeting:
“For us, the most interesting topics have been related, in particular, to climate change. It has been great to share experiences on climate risk assessments and discuss how we as development financiers can and should focus not only on risk mitigation but finding opportunities to enhance adaptation and resilience to climate change.” – Karoline Teien Blystad, Senior Development Economist, and Signe Kolbye Sørensen, Senior Economist, Norfund
“It is wonderful to be here in person. It is not the same as seeing people on the screen! We have had some really interesting discussions, for instance, on harmonisation, impact measurement, and data analytics. It is not only about what new technologies can bring to the table but how to make the best out of it. Complexity is rising, but you must have reliable data for decision-making. It is great to hear how people are dealing with the same issues.
I have also found the discussions on harmonisation very important. Despite the fact that we have different priorities and legacies, harmonisation is definitely needed. We just have to be careful on the level of details and how to do it in practice.” – Jonathan Kingwill, Senior Impact and Sustainability Manager, IFU
“It is just great to have this chance to get together! You get a much clear and concrete picture of what everyone is actually doing and what is happening in their organisation. It is also much easier to reach out once you have met in person.
Topic-wise I found the discussions on adaptation probably most interesting; for example, what type of investments we should make – and the same goes with biodiversity – not only do no harm principle but also looking for opportunities to make a positive impact.” – Amanda Koppang Willfors, Impact Manager, Swedfund
“Indeed, it is much easier to reach out once you have once dipped into the icy cold sea together!
I have found the Tour de tables particularly interesting as they give you an opportunity to hear what people are actually doing. These discussions have also made me understand that we are very different in terms of resources, number of people etc.” – Jurgen Vermeulen, Evaluation Officer, FMO
“It has been great to see how open people are and how much they are sharing their experiences. It has also been very eye-opening to see how much European development finance institutions actually work together: there are so many working groups and other means of collaboration.” – Charles Benoit, Impact and Climate Manager, FinDev Canada
“I would also say that the best thing is to see people face-to-face after such a long time. There are many new colleagues, and in person, people tend to be more candid, and you have a chance to hear much more of the context, too. I particularly enjoyed tour de table to hear what is going on in different organisations.” – Georg Weiers, EIB
“It has been such a pleasure to have colleagues from so many development finance institutions here in Helsinki, discussing face-to-face the latest trends and developments, and sharing best practices and challenges.
It has also been interesting to see that ESG (environmental and social sustainability, good governance) and impact are becoming not only interlinked but the line between the two is disappearing – which is really good! That is also a reason why we wanted to invite both environmental and social sustainability as well as impact specialists to Helsinki at the same time. I have found the presentations and discussions extremely interesting, and I want to thank you everyone who attended the meeting. I am definitely looking forward to continuing these discussions very soon!” – Kaisa Alavuotunki, Director of Impact and Sustainability, Finnfund (in picture below, the 3rd from the right)