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Origins of e-campus: Certified Expert in Sustainable Finance
Sustainable World Academy / 15. August 2019
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Sustainable Finance Expert & Researcher
Menglu Zhuang is a sustainable finance expert at the Frankfurt School-UNEP Centre and a researcher at the Frankfurt School faculty. Her role is to research in sustainable financial topics and manage the content development of educational programs on the topic of sustainable finance.

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It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.

Albert Einstein

When I took over the content development function of the CESFi e-learning course, supported by a group of competent experts, I was filled with excitement. It is our responsibility, the course developers, to awaken the joy of learning. Learning is not only fun, but it is also essential to keep pace with the ever-changing scenes of the world. Many professionals who have financial backgrounds, like me, were taught in the traditional way of finance. The interaction between finance and sustainability issue is gaining importance globally, but the topic is rarely touched in a traditional finance curriculum. Ignoring sustainability issues such as climate-related risks can translate into financial risks for firms and financial institutions. In this context, we ask: are finance students fully aware of the importance of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in investment decision-making?

CESFi, as part of the Sustainable World Academy portfolio, comes into existence as a further education course to complete one of the missing puzzle pieces in the traditional finance education. The goal of the course is to immerse the participants into a wide range of sustainable finance topics. After obtaining the certified expert title, the participants should have adequate knowledge to integrate their sustainable finance knowledge in daily work or study. That means, they will be giving original opinions and developing business ideas in sustainable finance in their workplace and discovering relevant new topics for research in their study program.

Sustainable finance is relevant to a wide audience and we transfer the knowledge to you

I am, like most of you, a client of financial institutions. I have frequently wondered why my bank isn’t actively going to the clients to introduce sustainable financial products. There is a lot that needs to be changed in the current financial environment. Both client advisors and retail investors need better knowledge on integrating ESG considerations. In fact, the importance of sustainability consideration is not only evident for asset managers, but also for banks, insurance companies, etc. The knowledge of the sustainable finance experts is transferred to the participants by means of unit scripts, videos, forum discussions and on-campus training days. Frankfurt School UNEP Collaborating Centre, the key entity behind the course development is an innovative think-and-do tank. Many members, such as Prof. Dr. Ulf Moslener, are well known in the climate sustainable finance field. Quality external experts, such as Dina Lorentz and Karl H Richter, are there to cover topics but also go beyond climate and environment-related issues.

Sustainable finance is developing fast

Sustainable finance is becoming mainstream. Regulatory developments are progressing with speed, e.g. EU taxonomy. From the very beginning, the learning materials in CESFi are written combining the long-year experiences of the experts with latest discussions and literature sources. Karsten Löffler, co-head of the FS-UNEP Centre and the Green and Sustainable Finance Cluster, member of the TEG of European Commission and Chair of the German Sustainable Finance Advisory council, offers us insights on a regular basis. There is a lot going on and the pace of change is fast! However, the more challenging it is, the more I am motivated to keep up with the speed. Together with the team, I will organise an update on the key regulatory development in sustainable finance every 6 months. The information on the latest reports and workshops are also shared with our participants in the e-learning forum.

The CESFi participants form a dynamic group and we integrate your suggestions

The word “teaching” (教学) is composed of two characters in Chinese: “teach(教)” and “learn(学)”.  The diverse backgrounds, experiences and topic interests of our participants are a source of inspiration. New contents are added to the learning materials based on participant suggestions. To encourage knowledge sharing, we provide the participants the opportunity to post case studies and learning experiences in Frankfurt School blogs. Moreover, the dynamic of the group was especially apparent during the 2-day classroom training where people engage in discussions and brainstorm new ideas.

The joy of learning and teaching is mutual. It comes from a dedicated group of experts who put their heart into transferring the knowledge, interacting with a diverse intellectual audience who is ready to learn.

*Special thanks to Dr. Anne Michaels, currently Manager Sustainability Services at PwC GmbH WPG for designing and leading the development of CESFi course at the early stage.