United Church Funds (UCF) has been a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investing (PRI) since 2006. Recently, UCF President and CEO, Charles Buck, and Director of Responsible Investing, Matthew Illian, traveled to Tokyo to attend “PRI in Person,” a gathering of leaders and investors from around the globe, to discuss and deliberate critical issues surrounding climate change, the environment and responsible investing.

PRI in Person conferences are held annually in cities around the world, and UCF chose to attend this year as a demonstration of our commitment to collaborating with global investors around the evolving landscape of responsible investing and sustainability.

This year’s PRI in Person was highlighted by keynote speeches from distinguished Japanese leaders Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan, and Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo. But most of the work took place in a packed schedule of panels, plenaries and presentations. UCF’s attendees were informed and inspired by much of them, and these are a few of the more significant takeaways:

  1. In the current global context, addressing climate change is an economic and moral imperative. Responsible investors and public policy are converging in their efforts to combat the pressing issue of climate change. Japan has taken a significant step forward, Prime Minister Kishida said, and he seized the moment at PRI to announce programs dedicated to promoting investments in sustainable finance, including new “Climate Transition Bonds.” These actions highlight and undergird the international effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
  2. A prominent theme at PRI in Person was the renewed and intensified effort to protect nature, forests and biodiversity. This builds upon the foundation laid at the Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. Preserving biodiversity and natural ecosystems is not just an ethical concern but a matter of global significance. Shared at PRI in Person was research from the World Wildlife Foundation showing a 69% decline in wildlife populations from 1970 to 2018. Biodiversity is critical for the health of our planet and plays a pivotal role in regulating climate, sustaining food production and providing resources for human well-being. The international community is recognizing the urgency of safeguarding the earth’s ecosystems, and the conference provided a global platform to address these concerns holistically.
  3. Amidst the myriad conversations and initiatives discussed at PRI in Person, a common thread emerged: the need for collaborative action on a systemic level. The challenges posed by climate change, the conservation of nature and the need to invest responsibly cannot be adequately addressed through isolated, individual actions. Instead, the solutions require a coordinated, global effort that transcends geographical and sectoral boundaries. This perspective only strengthens UCF’s resolve to continue working collaboratively with like-minded entities in the public and private sectors to tackle these pressing issues head-on.

As we face the increasingly complex challenges of our time, responsible investment and sustainability principles stand as a guide in our collective efforts to create a more just world for all. This year’s PRI in Person underscored the critical role of the global community toward realizing that sustainable and equitable future.