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Revolutionizing ESG education: Biodiversity and Natural Capital Markets micro-certificate

“Like climate change, to some it’ll be a cliff, and to others a tremendous opportunity to innovate and create financial value,” says sustainable finance leader Jason Taylor about the current biodiversity landscape.
April 2, 2024

Carbon markets

Concordia's committment to spearheading innovation is the driving force behind the introduction of groundbreaking micro-certificates in sustainable finance and ESG communications, marking a significant stride in fostering growth in these vital fields.

Jason Taylor, a sustainable finance expert and the instructor of the micro-certificates in carbon and biodiversity, helped develop the programs. Here's how they will address a widening skills gap in the sustainability sector and provide professionals with insights to confidently tackle new professional challenges.

How does your background position you to guide students looking to gain the sustainability knowledge they need to advance their careers?

Jason Taylor: After starting my career in finance, I ventured into sustainable finance in 2018 during my MBA to find a way to reconcile the power of finance in influencing behavioural change and contributing to what has been and still is considered today a large funding gap for environmental and sustainability objectives. 

I'm very passionate about using the power of capital to mobilize positive outcomes, and I returned to school to do this in a more informed and technical manner. Since then, I've continued, never really stopping learning because, the more I venture into the area, I realize how complex it is.

I love finance, and I love sustainability, and I find that bringing those two things together can contribute to truly positive outcomes. That's really what inspires me, and I love working with students, uncovering their passion, and helping them nourish that passion so that they can go on and forge their own success. 

How do you envision this micro-certificate making a meaningful impact on the professionals working in the rapidly evolving landscape of sustainable finance?

JT: Having led the sustainable finance buildout for two banks and worked with a wide variety of clients across different geographies, it becomes apparent that those who invest time in developing their skills and abilities are significantly more valuable to their employers, clients, and transactions. This is why we wanted this course rigorously focused on the practical application of sustainable finance. Ultimately, we want our students to walk away with a toolkit of resources they can use to generate tangible value within organizations.

I've had a lot of pleasure witnessing the progression of former employees—seeing them advance, get promoted, increase their salaries substantially, find meaning in their work, be challenged, get close to their values, and find inspiration in their psychological space. So intellectually speaking, it's very stimulating, and I don’t think there’s an investment in this space that goes unrewarded. Every book, every paper, every course, every project, and every transaction all contribute to making a financial professional that much more effective. 

Similar to the early days of carbon, biodiversity and nature-based solutions are set to follow a similar mainstreaming trajectory, but albeit at a much more rapid pace due to the ability to leverage the same decision making frameworks (TCFD/TNFD, SBTI/SBTN, PCAF/PBAF) despite biodiversity being much less linear. The Global Biodiversity Framework announced at COP15 in Montreal, what many are calling the ‘Paris moment for nature’, and has since created a huge ground swell of corporations and investors beginning to mobilize around the area. When you look at the staggering percentage of the global economy dependent on it, the estimated million species at risk of extinction, and the $700 billion funding gap, you quickly realize this is an area in desperate need of attention. Like climate change, to some it’ll be a cliff, and to others a tremendous opportunity to innovate and create financial value. Although it may seem like an insurmountable challenge, humans have demonstrated their ability to regenerate and innovate throughout history when faced with considerable constraints. Let’s hope this time will be no different and we’ll all work together to protect and preserve our most valuable financial assets, nature!

How does effective sustainable finance education contribute to mitigating the challenges posed by the climate crisis?

JT: I've had a chance to witness, on multiple occasions, the shortage of industry capacity. Presently, there's a high amount of science-based targets, voluntary commitments, and desire and intent to transition. However, that requires a significant number of people to mainstream these activities at the desk level. Given how little time there is to decarbonize the economy, the only way forward, in my opinion, is to accelerate capacity building. 

This micro-certificate is an opportunity to leverage professional abilities to their fullest extent and help accelerate and double down on the speed and implementation. There's a real cost to delaying; the cost of inaction is is far higher than the investment that goes into greening the economy. 


Learn more from Taylor during the micro-certificate in Economics of Biodiversity and Natural Capital Markets starting April 24.

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