Spectrum ESG panel highlights regulation and governance as ESG momentum grows

Leading the debate on key issues for financial services in Cayman, industry leaders will discuss the momentum of ESG and the important role for regulation and governance at the upcoming Spectrum 2023 conference.

Taking place on 14 September 2023 at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, the Spectrum conference looks to the future of financial services and how the Cayman Islands can thrive as a modern financial centre.

The acceleration of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues to head the agenda for financial services in just the last two years has been unprecedented. As a leading IFC and the premier international domicile for investment funds, there is now a unique opportunity for Cayman to influence the global ESG debate, while at the same time, utilising the expertise within our highly successful financial sector to position this jurisdiction as a leader in sustainability.

Moderating the ESG panel will be Arnaud van Dijk, a partner in KPMG’s ESG Practice in Cayman. He specialises in corporate sustainability and sustainable finance, with a focus on strategy, risk, climate change, reporting and disclosures.

“ESG is clearly at the forefront of global attention and as a small, low-lying island jurisdiction, issues such as climate change could have a disproportionate effect on Cayman in the future,” van Dijk said. “With the expertise we have here on Island, there is so much we can do now both from a sustainability standpoint and from implementing good governance practices which can support and drive our ESG ambitions. I’m really excited to hear the views of our panellists on these issues.”

Bringing their expertise to the discussion, which will look at the implications for Cayman of riding the wave in ESG, are Lisa-Ann Hurlston-McKenzie, Advisor, Ministry of Sustainability & Climate Resiliency and Gernel Sobers, Director of Corporate Banking at CIBC First Caribbean. Also part of the panel is Joanna Hossack, senior associate at Collas Crill who is the founder of the Cayman Lawyer ESG Project and rounding out the group is Padraig Brosnan, who is a partner in the Investment Funds Group at Maples. As the head of the Irish Cayman Islands Desk, he has experience in the application of ESG principles to investment funds and the extensive ESG regulatory framework in the European Union.

Among the key ESG themes that will be discussed at Spectrum, will be Embedding Responsible Practices into Corporate Culture. While many of us in Cayman have spent some time catching up with developments in ESG, the time has come for action. Questions must be considered how companies globally can deliver on the promises and commitments that have been made and the Cayman Islands is no exception.

At the same time, it will also be interesting to hear the panel’s views on the building backlash against ESG in the US, which has recently become a major talking point for the upcoming election and a divisive political issue.

The role of ESG governance, meanwhile, will be crucial to the development of appropriate ESG initiatives both within the Cayman financial services sector and to support any future ESG policies at the IFC level. While Cayman may have relatively limited natural resources compared with other jurisdictions, it does have significant expertise in governance. The ESG panel at Spectrum will look at examples of the positive impact of good governance in practice and the essential elements for a framework of good governance.

Cayman’s long tradition of effective collaborative between the public and private sector is brought to the next level at Spectrum. The conference brings together industry leaders, regulators and key stakeholders to debate the future shape of the financial services sector. With the first steps now taken in developing Cayman’s emerging regulatory framework for ESG, the next phase can be strategically examined, including potential measures against greenwashing, while being alive to any risks that might arise.

“We have already made some important progress in Cayman with a Ministry now focused on climate change and discussions around an ESG framework,” van Dijk said. “I also see a great deal of enthusiasm for solutions from the private sector. The ability to have an open discussion on these issues with contributions from leaders on all sides is invaluable.”

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