Press release 2 March 2020

New products awarded the ‘Towards Sustainability’ -label

 

  • With 410 sustainably labelled financial products, Belgium has the largest offer in the EU
  • In total, more than EUR 175 billion is managed in line with the Towards Sustainability quality standard, of which EUR 50 billion for the Belgian market.
  • The Towards Sustainability label is at the stricter end of the spectrum and continues to evolve
  • A number of financial institutions are committed to selling only labelled products as sustainable in Belgium

Towards Sustainability, the Belgian label for sustainable and socially responsible financial products, have published the updated list of labelled products on its website www.towardssustainability.be on 2 March 2020. With 410 investment, insurance and savings products, 311 awarded in November 2019 and 99 in February 2020, Towards Sustainability is the most comprehensive label in the EU by product offering. It is also the largest in terms of assets under management, according to the French sustainable finance portal Novéthic. Internationally, a total of more than EUR 175 billion is managed in accordance with the requirements of the Towards Sustainability quality standard. More than 50 billion of this comes from Belgian savers and investors.

Towards Sustainability scores good points not only quantitatively but also qualitatively. A study by the same Novéthic positions Towards Sustainability on the stricter side of the spectrum of European sustainable financial labels.

Olivier Marquet, president of the CLA labelling agency that manages Towards Sustainability, is satisfied: "The Towards Sustainability label brings clarity to investors in a sea of sustainable funds. We can already see that it is moving the market towards more sustainability. Moreover, the label is evolutionary. It is already demanding, but will be further refined in the future, including after consultation of a multi-stakeholder advisory panel in the second half of this year".

Widely supported

Thanks to Febelfin's support, it was clear from the launch in November 2019 that Towards Sustainability is a sector-wide label. With more than 60 asset managers, banks and insurance companies on board, the majority of the Belgian financial market is now covered. It should be noted that the products that are allowed to carry the Towards Sustainability label are certainly not an exclusively Belgian matter. Approximately 25% are offered by mainly Belgian producers. The other products come from players from other EU countries. At the product level, 60% of the labelled products are specifically aimed at the Belgian market. The remaining 40% have a rather European or international character. In other words, there is a wide sustainable choice for every type of investor.

Karel Van Eetvelt, CEO Febelfin, states: "Febelfin and its members are convinced of the importance of clarity, coherence and ambition in making the financial sector more sustainable. The Towards Sustainability initiative contributes to this in a concrete way. It is a step in a joint process in which we would like to involve all types of institutions and all types of investors".

More clarity

Clarity for the individual investor remains one of the main drivers of the label. When a financial product carries the Towards Sustainability label, the investor can be confident that it meets a number of well-defined minimum sustainable criteria. There are also sustainable investment products on the market that do not carry the label, which may lead to confusion among non-professional investors. To avoid this, a number of financial institutions have commited themselves to only include products that have received the label in their sustainable offer on the Belgian market. The first of these signatories can be found here.  Other institutions will join them in the future.

Future

Towards Sustainability will continue to evolve, closely keeping in mind its objectives and the relevant European framework. Towards Sustainability aims to mainstream sustainability principles in all financial products and to contribute to the structural integration of sustainability in all financing decisions of the financial sector. All this is done in line with future European regulations on disclosure and taxonomy. The Towards Sustainability quality standard is evaluated every two years. The first and current version was published in February 2019. The next revisions will be published in January 2021 and January 2023.