“We cannot keep using our old toolbox, we need to develop a new one for the future”

Sustainable Finance Lab sat down with SFL Partner Swedbank’s Sustainability Manager Fredrik Nilzén to talk about the future of finance and the challenges standing in the way to achieve a sustainable transition of the financial market.
A portrait of Fredrik Nilzén.

What interested you in the Sustainable Finance Lab?

– We are at the doorstep of the next big development of society. The next stage of economic development needs to take account of our planet’s condition and the circumstances related to it – to better understand and adapt to our planet’s boundaries. Given all that, we believe that the financial service industry is facing substantial changes. We believe that fundamental development is necessary, especially as it relates to finance and the banking system. We cannot keep using our old “toolbox”, and need to develop a new, better adapted, one to face these challenges. The financial service sector needs the innovation industry can bring, and research and problem-solving to adapt and meet these challenges. As the financial market has such a big role to play, greater transparency is absolutely necessary for the sector and across the industry.

We regard our collaboration with Sustainable Finance Lab as an opportunity where can connect, contribute and also benefit.

How do you want Swedbank and Sustainable Finance Lab to work together?

– I view Sustainable Finance Lab as a platform where we can connect, contribute and also benefit. In our collaboration, I want to ensure that we are engaged and understand the plan for the platform.  We believe that Swedbank can contribute by providing a practical perspective, by being a testbed for different criteria relating to risk management, the climate agenda, and social sustainability. We believe that we gain competence and research-based insight by being part of the Sustainable Finance Lab.

How does Swedbank work with sustainability?

– We have integrated sustainability into our business strategy. Instead of viewing it as something external and separate, we consider the development of a sustainable society part of our purpose. This entails, in our view, accomplishing environmental as well as social and ethical sustainability.

What sustainability challenges do you see in the future?

– The changes we are advocating for are big and fundamental. The sector as a whole is however not adapting and implementing them as fast as necessary. It increases administration, both for us and our customers. There will be cases where the climate needs to be weighed against social factors – a sustainability challenge facing us is to figure out how we navigate such a goal conflict. Navigating questions such as these is an important challenge going forward.

We cannot keep using our old toolbox, we need to develop a new one for the future

What are your hopes for 2022? What is on your wish list for 2022?

– I have 3 things on my wish list.

  1. Continued strong climate change leadership shaped by concrete actions.
  2. Price. I wish for further development and implementation of carbon pricing and for pricing of other externalities to accelerate efforts
  3. Energy efficiency in property and real estate is untapped. I want to see a re-awakening of energy efficiency initiatives. We cannot waste energy as we are doing today whilst managing change, says Fredrik Nilzén.


About SFL:s partners

Sustainable Finance Lab’s partners range from industry and civil society and include banks and institutional investors, alternative providers of capital (explicitly socially responsible investors), financial innovators and accelerators, influential business associations and market platforms, as well as regulators or providers of ratings/standards, and civil society actors with reach and influence. We also work with relevant non-financial actors in the real economy, including companies in four sectors we have identified as having a particularly important role for the economy while also experiencing an urgent need to transition to sustainable practices.

Read more about Sustainable Finance Lab and our partners. 

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