Leadership In Sustainable Finance: Charting A Course Through Purpose, Profit, And Politics


Despite the evidence of the hottest 5 months on record, higher than average ocean temperatures, and 6 out of 9 planetary boundaries breached, an “ESG Backlash” has emerged that threatens to delay or derail the urgent climate action required. The Triple Planetary Crisis of climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss is already significantly impacting businesses, finance, and communities worldwide, but the collective action, patient capital, and long-term solutions required to address these are often at odds with the short-term incentives driving populist politics and politicians.

An intricate web of challenges face business and financial leaders in aligning purpose and profit. How can we steer our organisations with insight, innovation, and imagination to create genuine shared, sustainable prosperity for current and future generations whilst navigating increasingly stormy political waters? In this lecture, Simon Thompson will examine the complex interplay of purpose, profit, and politics in the context of climate change, hopefully charting a course to navigate these turbulent waters.


Simon Thompson is Chief Executive of the Chartered Banker Institute. Under his leadership, the Institute has grown to become the largest professional body for bankers in the UK, with 36,000 members and students in more than 100 countries. In 2022 the Institute launched the Principles for Responsible Banking Academy in partnership with UNEP FI to support the alignment of banks’ strategies, operations and activities with the objectives of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.

Simon is the author of Green & Sustainable Finance: Principles and Practice, published by Kogan Page. He chairs the UK’s Sustainable Finance Education Charter on behalf of the Department for Net Zero and Energy Security and is a Board member of the UK’s Financial Services Skills Commission (FSSC). Simon is a former Vice President of the European Bank Training Network.

Simon is a Fellow of the Chartered Banker Institute and a Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He was awarded Honorary Doctorates by Bangor University (2022) and BPP University (2015) for his contribution to banking, business and education.