High-level conference on sustainable finance

It's high time for sustainable finance


Richard N. Kuehnel

Representative of the European Commission in Germany

Before joining the European Commission, Mr Kuehnel worked in the national diplomatic service of Austria in 1994. He served at the Austrian Embassy in Tokyo, in charge of economic and financial relations. Between 2000 and 2003, Mr Kuehnel was Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations in New York. In 2003, he returned to Vienna, first as Advisor to the Director-General for Development Cooperation and then as Member of Cabinet of the Foreign Minister.

In 2004, Mr Kuehnel joined the European Commission as Member of Cabinet of the EU Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner. He was responsible for multilateral relations and human rights. Between 2008 and May 2014, he was Head of Representation of the European Commission in Austria. Since June 2014, he has been Representative of the European Commission in Germany.

Mr Kuehnel is a lawyer by training, with an emphasis on international and European law.

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Valdis Dombrovskis

Vice-President of the European Commission

Valdis Dombrovskis is the Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and the Capital Markets Union. Prior to that, he served three consecutive terms as Prime Minister of Latvia, becoming the longest serving elected head of government in Latvia’s history.

Before becoming European Commission Vice-President, Valdis Dombrovskis was elected for the second time as a Member of the European Parliament (first, 2004- 2009) and Head of the Latvian Delegation in the EPP Group. He served as a Member of the Saeima (Parliament) of Latvia (March 2004- June 2004; January 2014-June 2014) and was Latvia’s Minister of Finance from 2002 to 2004.

Valdis Dombrovskis was born on 5 August, 1971 in Riga, Latvia. He graduated with a degree in physics from the University of Latvia (1993) and economics from Riga University of Technology (1995). He received his master’s degree in physics in 1995 from the University of Latvia. In 1995 -1998, he worked as a research assistant at Mainz University, Germany, at the Institute of Solid-State Physics in Latvia and at the University of Maryland (USA).

Prior to joining politics, he worked as a senior economist and chief economist at the Bank of Latvia (1998-2002). Together with Anders Aslund, he co-authored the book „How Latvia came through the financial crisis” which was published in 2011. In November 2014, Valdis Dombrovskis was awarded the Order of the Three Stars (Triju Zvaigžņu ordenis), the highest State Decoration of the Republic of Latvia.

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Dr. Michael Meister

Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance

Michael Meister was born on 9 June 1961. He holds a doctorate in mathematics and has been a member of the German parliament, the Bundestag, since 1994.

From 2002 to 2004 he was chairman of the finance working group of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag. Subsequently, until the end of 2013, he served as deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, where his responsibilities included fiscal and budgetary policy. Since December 2013, Meister has held the position of Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance.


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Dr. Christian Thimann

Senior Executive, AXA Group, Paris

Christian Thimann is a Senior Executive with the AXA Group, based in Paris. He was AXA’s Group Head of Strategy, Sustainability and Public Affairs from 2014-2016 and Member of the Group Executive Committee. In this role, he coordinated the group’s global business strategy, its engagement on corporate responsibility and its public affairs positioning. He was also Member of the Board of Directors of Alliance Bernstein Investment (New York) and of AXA Investment Managers (Paris), the two asset managers belonging to the AXA Group.

He subsequently became Group Head of Regulation, Sustainability and Insurance Foresight, also overseeing the AXA Research Fund, a €200 million initiative to support insurance-relevant risk research world-wide. In 2017 he became Senior adviser to the AXA Chairman, when he was appointed by the European Commission to chair the EU High-Level Group on Sustainable Finance, tasked to provide recommendations to hardwire sustainability and foster long-term investment in the EU’s financial policy and regulatory framework. Christian Thimann is also Vice-Chair of the FSB Task force on climate-related financial disclosures (chaired by Michael Bloomberg) and chair of the United Nations’ Finance Initiative (UNEP FI).

Before joining AXA, he was Director General at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt; prior to this, he was staff member with the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C.

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Professor Marcel Fratzscher, Ph.D.

President, DIW Berlin

Marcel Fratzscher is President of DIW Berlin, one of the leading, independent economic research institutes and think tanks in Europe, Professor of Macroeconomics and Finance at Humboldt-University Berlin, and Chair of the German government expert committee on "Strenghtening investment in Germany". The work of Marcel Fratzscher focuses on topics in macroeconomics, monetary economics, financial markets and global economy. In September 2014, his book "The Germany Illusion: Why we overestimate our Economy and need Europe" was published. In his recent book "The Battle for Redistribution – Why Germany is becoming more unequal“ (March 2016) he analyses the economic and social impact of the high and rising inequality in Germany.

His prior professional experience includes work as Head of the International Policy Analysis at the European Central Bank (ECB), where he worked from 2001 to 2012; the Peterson Institute for International Economics in 2000-01; before and during the Asian financial crisis in 1996-98 at the Ministry of Finance of Indonesia for the Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID); and shorter periods at the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and in various parts of Asia and Africa.

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Professor Joachim Wuermeling

LL.M., Member of the Executive Board, Deutsche Bundesbank

Joachim Wuermeling is a Member of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank and honorary professor at the University of Potsdam.

After studying law at the Universities of Bayreuth, Erlangen and Dijon, Joachim Wuermeling earned a PhD in European Law from the University of Bayreuth and subsequently a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Comparative, European and International Laws at the European University Institute, Florence. Having completed his academic training, he worked as a ministry official at the Bavarian representative office in

Bonn, at the European Commission in Brussels and at the Bavarian State Chancellery in Munich. From 1999 to 2005 he was a Member of the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg, focusing in particular on legal and economic issues. In 2002/2003 he was also a Deputy Member of the European Constitutional Convention. Following the 2005 parliamentary election in Germany, Joachim Wuermeling was appointed State secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economics and Technology in Berlin, an office he held until 2008. After three years as a Member of the Executive Board of the German Insurance Association (GDV), he worked on the Board of Directors of the Association of Sparda-Banken in Frankfurt between 2011 and 2016. Since November 2016 he has been a Member of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank and he is currently responsible for Directorates General Information Technology and Markets.

Since 1995 Joachim Wuermeling has taught as a visiting lecturer, first at the University of Bayreuth, then at the University of Potsdam, where he was awarded an honorary professorship in 2011.

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Kristina Jeromin

Head of Group Sustainability, Deutsche Börse Group

Kristina Jeromin joined Deutsche Börse Group in 2009 and was initially responsible for the internal and external communication of the Group-wide sustainability strategy. Since 2015, she is responsible as Head of Group Sustainability for Group-wide sustainability management, covering the company’s roles as an international capital market organiser, DAX-listed company and member of society. Since September 2017, Kristina Jeromin is a member of the Executive Board of econsense – Forum Sustainable Development of German Business e. V. in Berlin. In addition, she is member in the steering committee of the Hub for Sustainable Finance (H4SF).

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Professor Karsten Neuhoff, Ph.D.

Head of Department Climate Policy, DIW Berlin

Karsten Neuhoff is head of Department Climate Policy at the German Institute for Economic Research and Professor at the Economics and Management Faculty of Technical University Berlin. He has published on Power Market design, Innovation Policy and governance, finance, and instruments of Climate Policy. He is leading research and advice projects for the EU Commission and governments of EU member states. He holds a diploma in Physics from the University of Heidelberg, an MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics, and a PhD in Economics from the University of Cambridge.

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Dr. Gerhard Schick

Member of German Parliament, Die Grünen

Gerhard Schick is Member of Parliament since 2005 and part of the green parliamentary group. He works on policies for a stable and sustainable financial system that serves the people and co-authored the book ‘Finanzwende’.

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Karsten Loeffler

Co-Head of the Frankfurt School – UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance

Karsten Loeffler is Co-Head of the Frankfurt School – UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance, a strategic cooperation between UN Environment and the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. His work focuses on support mechanisms that support to fund the transition to a low carbon economy, as well as on using insurance as an efficient risk financing tool regarding natural catastrophe risks in vulnerable countries.

Before joining the Centre Mr Loeffler worked for Allianz Group for 28 years, including 11 years for Dresdner Bank, where he was a Sales Trader in capital market products to the German Mittelstand. At Allianz Global Investors he was responsible for its mutual fund range as Head of Product Management, and for setting up the Allianz Global Sustainability Fund. In 2008 he changed to Allianz Climate Solutions to position Allianz and advance its businesses in light of climate change.

Mr Loeffler serves as vice-chair of Oikocredit’s supervisory board, a Netherlands’ based development finance cooperative, and is member of the German Wissenschaftsplattform Nachhaltigkeit 2030 that supports the implementation of the global SDGs.

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Michael Schmidt

CFA, Member of the Board of Directors, Deka Investments GmbH

Michael Schmidt is a managing director of Deka Investment and Head of Asset Servicing & Alternative Investments. He is also responsible for all activities related to sustainable investments and corporate governance. From 2009-2014, Michael was a board member at Union Investment Privatfonds GmbH and was head of the equity portfolio management division of the Union Investment Group. Prior to that, he was an equity fund manager for 14 years in the asset management division of Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt and London where he held various analyst and management positions, most recently as head of equity portfolio management for institutional clients. Michael completed a banking apprenticeship, holds a master degree in business administration and is a CFA Charterholder. He is on the board of the German Association for Financial Analysis and Asset Management (DVFA e.V.), he is a member of the sustainability advisory council of Deutsche Post DHL and a member of the High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance of the EU Commission.

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Professor Alexander Bassen, Ph.D.

Member of the German Sustainability Fund

Alexander Bassen is a full professor of capital markets and management at the University of Hamburg, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Science (Germany). He teaches courses in finance and investment, ESG and capital markets and reporting. Alex is a member of the German Council for Sustainable Development - advisory body of the German Federal Government, chair of the UN PRI Academic Network Steering Committee, Honorary Research Associate at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (University of Oxford), member of the Social & Governance Issues (CESG) of the European Association of Financial Analysts Societies (EFFAS) as well as member of several other advisory committees.

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Mirjam Wolfrum

Head of Policy, Public Affairs, CDP Europe

Mirjam is Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Communications at CDP Europe. In her role she translates CDP’s work with companies and investors into information and asks for EU policymakers.

Before starting work with CDP in 2015, Mirjam was an independent Information Professional. She did business, market and product research for European companies of the clean technology sector. Having started her career as Partnership Relationship Manager in a business consultancy, Mirjam worked three years at the Goethe Institute in Brussels, being in charge of public information and liaison with the EU institutions. Mirjam holds degrees in Information Management and Journalism.

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Dr. Steffen Schwartz-Hoefler

Senior Manager Sustainability Strategy, ThyssenKrupp AG

Steffen is a manager and expert in sustainability strategy development, sustainability & integrated reporting, climate change strategy and carbon footprinting with 10+ years experience in the field. He worked in several positions within thyssenkrupp group leading various aspects of sustainability. He has also chaired the econsense expert group on reporting & ratings for several years. Steffen holds a PhD in political science.

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Silvia Kreibiehl

Co-Head of the Frankfurt School – UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance

Silvia Kreibiehl is Co-Head of the FS – UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance, a strategic cooperation between UN Environment and the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment. Set up as a think-and-do tank, the Centre combines practice-oriented research and policy advice with implementation expertise in developing and emerging countries. Ms. Kreibiehl’s work focuses on innovative financing schemes and regulatory frameworks unlocking international and local private sector investments.

Before joining the Centre Ms. Kreibiehl had worked for Deutsche Bank for 17 years, with 10 years in corporate finance, in particular in the RE sector. She was responsible for DB’s shareholding in the Desertec Industrial Initiative and was the lead analyst for the design of the GET FiT programme.

Ms. Kreibiehl has been a contributing author to the Fifth Assessment Report prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. She serves as a member of the C3E International Ambassador Corps since 2016 and was nominated as a member of the Independent Technical Advisory Panel of the GCF in 2015.

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Katharina Latif

Head of Corporate Sustainability, Allianz SE

Katharina Latif is the Head of Corporate Responsibility at Allianz SE. In her role, she is responsible for ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) integration into operations, investments and insurance segments of Allianz Group. On top she oversees sustainability reporting, corporate citizenship programs and disaster relief efforts of Allianz.

Her previous positions included being the Managing Director of Allianz Climate Solutions, where she oversaw all aspects of the business strategy and operations of the Allianz Group’s climate change center of competence. As management consultant for European energy, chemicals and utilities companies with Accenture, Germany, she carried out project-based work on topics including market and competitor analyses, product development.

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Dr. Gerald Podobnik

Global Head of Capital Solutions & Sustainable Financing, Global Capital Markets, FSG, Deutsche Bank AG

Gerald is Global Head of Capital Solutions & Sustainable Financing as well as Co- Head of FIG EMEA in Global Capital Markets. In his Capital Solutions & Sustainable Financing role, Gerald is responsible for regulatory and rating agency optimized capital measures for banks, insurance companies and corporates as well as the emerging sustainable financing toolbox. Key products are all forms of green/social/ sustainable bonds, hybrid capital securities and regulatory capital advice in the changing environment of Basel IV, resolution regimes, Solvency II, ICS etc. In his FIG role, Gerald is responsible for debt issuance and balance sheet solutions with financial institutions in Europe, Middle East and Africa. He holds a doctorate degree in law and a Masters degree in business administration from Graz University, Austria.

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Matthias Kopp

Head of Sustainable Finance, WWF Germany

Matthias Kopp heads up the sustainable finance activities with WWF Germany and is a member of WWF’s international Finance Practice.

He holds a degree in industrial engineering and management (Berlin/London) and worked with PwC management consultants until 2005before joining WWF as Project lead energy and finance sector. For the last three years he has been leading WWFs finance sector focused activities across WWFs areas of work.

Activities included managing an international partnership with Allianz Group on a climate compliant business model, initiation and implementation of CDP Germany 2006-11. He worked with Credit Suisse, Unicredit. Mercer and others.

One focus of work lies on climate compliance in the lending, investment and insurance value chain, risks assessments and transparency (TCFD), most recently including water related risks. As such Matthias co-developed first pilots on  „margin@ risk“ assessment-approaches and was involved in the EU Horizon 2020 project SEI-M on climate performance assessments in financial portfolios. A further area of focus is financial markets’ regulation in the G20, G7, EU and Germany.

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Olivier Guersent

Director General of DG FISMA, European Commission

OLIVIER GUERSENT graduated with distinction from the “Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Bordeaux” in 1983. He joined the French Ministry of Economy and Finance in 1984, where he carried out many investigations for the French Competition Authority. He joined the European Commission in 1992, initially with the "Merger Task Force" in the Directorate-General for Competition. Since then, he has alternated between the private offices of a number of European Commissioners (Karel Van Miert, Michel Barnier and Neelie Kroes) and DG Competition (successively Deputy Head of Unit in charge of cartels, Head of Unit in charge of policy and coordination of cases, Head of Unit in charge of merger control, Acting Director “Transport, postal and other services" and, from 2009, Director responsible for the fight against cartels.

From 2010 to 2014 he was the head of the private office of Michel Barnier, Commissioner for Internal Market and Services. Having held the position of Deputy Director-General since July 2014, Olivier Guersent has been Director-General of the Directorate-General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union since 1 September 2015.

Married and a father of three children, Olivier Guersent is a member of the board of the non-profit organisation Aremis that provides medical care in the home, primarily to cancer patients in the Brussels area. He is a regular lecturer to postgraduate university students.

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Dr. Levin Holle

Director General for Financial Policy, Federal Ministry of Finance, Berlin, Germany

Levin Holle is the Head of the Financial Markets Policy Department of Germany’s Federal Ministry of Finance. His responsibilities include the formulation of policies and strategies with respect to federal credit institutions, federal debt management, financial markets as well as anti-money laundering and international financial markets policy. He is also responsible for the supervision of the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority and the Financial Market Stabilisation Authority. Additionally he is supervisory board member of the Deutsche Bahn AG since 2018.

Prior to joining the German Finance Ministry he worked 15 years for the management consultancy Boston Consulting Group, his last position being Senior Partner and Managing Director of the Berlin office. In 1996 he earned his Ph.D. at the University of Goettingen.

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Chris Barrett

Executive Director, Finance and Economics, European Climate Foundation

Chris Barrett is the Executive Director for Finance and Economics, and the Chair of the Finance Dialogue Steering Group. In these roles, he leads the international strategy on the potential and logic of the low-carbon transition from economic and finance perspectives.

Before joining the European Climate Foundation, Chris Barrett was Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for three years. Prior to this, he was Chief of Staff to the Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan from 2007 to 2010, and served in the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet from 2003 to 2007, culminating in the position of Deputy Secretary of the Policy and Cabinet Group. He began his career as a management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group in Melbourne in 1992, and has degrees in economics and public policy from the University of Melbourne and Princeton University.

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Christoph Bals

CEO,  Germanwatch 

Christoph Bals, born in 1960, is the Policy Director of the environmental and development organization Germanwatch. In 1991 he was a founding member of this NGO and has been engaged since then in the politics of climate and development. He is a board member of the "Stiftung Zukunftsfähigkeit" (Foundation for Sustainability), the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative (MCII) which is pushing for insurance for the people of developing countries against climate risks, and the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI).

Bals is also member of political coordination of the international Climate Action Network and in the speaker board of Klimaallianz. Bals has taken part as an active observer in all the UN climate summits to date. He has co-initiated many political initiatives in the area of climate and development as well as climate and economics - the European Business Council for Sustainable Energy, e-mission 55 and atmosfair, for example. Bals studied theology, economics and philosophy in Munich, Belfast, Erfurt and Bamberg.

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