2018 Willis & White Thought Leadership Event: Can sustainable finance hubs mobilize the vast sums of capital needed to meet global climate targets?

November 26, 2018 by Kiran Champatsingh

Keynote Speaker: Andy Chisholm, member of Canada’s Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance and the Board of Directors of the Royal Bank of Canada.

Below: Andy Chisholm

On November 20, 2018, the School of the Environment hosted the Willis and White Thought Leadership event at the Faculty Club. Around the world the importance of directing capital to support the creation of a sustainable economy has become clear. Many finance centres are moving to capture the opportunity to participate in satisfying that need, thereby securing the benefits that will come from the new forms of financial products and services (e.g., green bonds, emissions trading, and sustainability directed lending), and to preserve the competitiveness of their existing finance businesses. The Canadian government-appointed Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance is working hard to make the connections for Canada, and Toronto Finance International is actively engaged to represent and organize the Toronto financial community to benefit from the growth opportunities in this emerging space. Representatives from these two organizations will be joined by a world-renowned leading authority on green finance from China and the Canadian director of a new (to Canada) bank, promising for an insightful discussion of international perspectives on the challenges and potential pathways for our city and wider national economy.

Panel Discussion with:


  • Win Bear, Managing Director, Silicon Valley Bank (Canada);
  • Jennifer Reynolds, President and CEO, Toronto Finance International;
  • Yao Wang, Professor and Director General, International Institute of Green Finance, Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing;
  • Toby Heaps (Moderator), CEO and co-founder of Corporate Knights Inc., and publisher of Corporate Knights


Closing Remarks: Hugh O’ReillyPresident and CEO of OPTrust.


The panel discussion was followed by the presentation of the Skip Willis and Rodney White undergraduate scholarships by Scott Willis and Susan White. 

Skip Willis Undergraduate Scholarship 

Farida Abdelmeguied is a fourth-year student pursuing an Honors Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Environmental Studies, and English at the University of Toronto (UofT). Inspired by the intersections between policy and sustainability, Farida has interned at the Canadian Urban Institute as well as Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s Renewable Energy and Sustainability Company, and is currently a Compliance Analyst for the G20 Research Group. Aware of the importance of journalism in a politically volatile world, she has worked with Sky News Arabia off campus as well as The Varsity and The Medium on campus, and is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Amnesty International UofT’s online journal, Candlelight. She is additionally the Co-President of the Environmental Students’ Union as well as being on the Secretariat of North American Model United Nations. She is currently working on a senior thesis on the dynamics of mass protest, revolutions, and counter-revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, but her academic and professional interests extend beyond that. They include urban sustainability, the geopolitical implications of climate change, food security, public policy, climate refugeeship, and press censorship.


Rodney White Environmental Studies Scholarship

Emily Neeson is a fourth-year student, pursuing a double major in Environmental Studies and Political Science at the University of Toronto. Through opportunities such as an internship at The Nature Conservancy in DC and a research trip to study sustainability in Belize, she became passionate about issues related to urban sustainability, climate policy, and international development. Emily has served both as the President of the Trinity College Volunteer Society, and as the Vice-President of the Trinity College Environmental Society. She hopes to pursue a career in environmental policy after graduating this year.

L to R: Susan White, Emily Neeson, Farida Abdelmeguied, and Scott Willis.


All photos courtesy of Dan Weaver.

This event was organized by the Environmental Finance Advisory Committee of the School of the Environment, at the University of Toronto; Sponsorship by RBC.