Representatives from eight of Canada’s largest pension funds — known as the Maple Eight — participated in the first meeting of the Sustainable Finance Action Council last week.

On June 11, representatives of the Alberta Investment Management Corp., the British Columbia Investment Management Corp., the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, the Public Sector Pension Investment Board and the University Pension Plan participated in a meeting with senior executives from Canada’s largest banking, asset management and insurance companies.

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The group was joined by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson. It was chaired by Kathy Bardswick, the former president and chief investment officer of the Co-operators Group Ltd.

During the meeting, Freeland and Wilkinson both discussed the importance of accelerating the shift toward a low-carbon economy. They also encouraged the members of the SFAC to work together to create a made-in-Canada strategy to expedite the shift. Then, representatives discussed the development of a financial framework that takes climate risks and opportunities into account in both the public and private sectors.

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The creation of a body similar to the SFAC, announced last month, had been recommended by in the 2019 final report of the expert panel on sustainable finance. The report also set out a mandate for the organization to mobilize the private sector, facilitate and assess the progress of public-private working groups focused on carbon reduction and to advise the federal government.

“The private sector is the government’s best source of industry and market insight when formulating finance-oriented sustainability policy and strategy agendas, to ensure that proposed directions are as practical and effective as possible. The private sector will also play a fundamental role in delivering the financing ingenuity and capital flows required to execute Canada’s sustainable growth objectives,” the report’s authors wrote.

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