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Finance for Future Awards: Demonstrating Climate Leadership

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 10 Nov 2021

In a pivotal year for combating climate change, the awards judges selected ‘climate leaders’ from this year’s finalists.

The Finance for the Future awards are about recognising and showcasing high-quality examples of financial leadership. This year’s winners included innovative cross-border, multi-sector projects that led to life-saving treatments, food-chain sustainability and renewable energy generation.

This year, a pivotal year for combating climate change, the judges were looking for examples of best practice across five different categories that could be transformational in building a sustainable organisation.

The Finance for the Future Awards were linked with the rescheduled COP26 and wanted to present additional awards to recognise Climate Leadership. The ‘climate leaders’ were selected from this year’s finalists.


At a glance: Demonstrating Climate Leadership


Salesforce, one of the biggest technology providers, was recognised by the judges to have shown Climate Leadership in the way it had embedded climate change action in its business-as-usual approach.

Its 10-K annual report, proxy statement and stakeholder impact report highlighted the advantages of incorporating ESG considerations into its processes, the judges said.

Salesforce runs its ESG priorities into its organisational alignment tool, the V2MOM (Values, Vision, Methods, Obstacles & Measures), an integrated part of its operational systems.

Every company executive has climate, diversity and inclusion metrics included in their V2MOM, which the judges commended as best practice.

Salesforce also developed a new tool, the Salesforce Sustainability Cloud, to analyse its carbon emissions. This was later developed into a customer product. The judges said that transferability from back-office to product design was extremely innovative, and a great blueprint for climate leadership.

Salesforce is also working on ESG in its supply chain. Judges praised the company’s target of having 60% of its suppliers having science-based targets by 2024. Salesforce is supporting suppliers in achieving the target.


Judges for the climate change award were impressed with the management approach by Burberry, a luxury fashion house headquartered in London. Judges also praised the board’s achievements in setting climate-based targets and agendas.

Ian Brimicombe, Senior Vice President of Group Finance, Burberry Group said: “We are thrilled to be a finalist, because of all the hard work we have done against the sustainability agenda, through a number of teams and committed to the various targets we set ourselves.

“We’ve worked really hard to embed sustainability in the work that we do, including in strategic thinking.

Burberry developed its climate change impact risk assessment, which it has reported in last year’s TCFD reporting disclosure.

“The governance of sustainability goes all the way to the top. We have got targets, and we are delivering against them.”

Burberry issued a sustainability bond last year that has links to their sustainability goals. Proceeds from the bond are allocated towards sustainable projects.

Brimicombe said the Burberry finance team has dedicated itself to sustainability, a shift from even two years ago.


The judges said Unilever demonstrated climate leadership for its efforts in embedding climate change into their internal strategy, the Unilever Compass.

The Unilever Compass, based on Unilever’s purpose-led model, drives business

performance and financial results.

Sabina Nealon, Finance Director for Sustainability, Unilever, said: “This is not just about integrated thinking in financial capital markets, but also authentic integrated thinking, and that makes Unilever’s team particularly proud.

“We demonstrate our commitment to embedded climate change action through our Compass, our commitment and through our constant communication with investors and driving that shift into climate change and fight for the climate.

Transparency is a key feature of Unilever’s dialogue with its shareholders. Recently, Unilever put its climate transition action plan, which sets out how the company plans to reduce its carbon emissions, to a non-binding advisory shareholder vote.

“We are communicating that with webinars, with our investors, with our roadshows, with annual reports and accounts, disclosures for TCFD, and through scenarios that we are building to show how we keep to 1.5C warming,” says Nealon. “The main thing is transparency and making that shift to net zero as fast as we can.”


Acciona, a family-run Spanish company, focuses on developing sustainable infrastructure. The judges were impressed with the way that it embedded climate change goals into its business practices. Its efforts to create green financial instruments and bonds for investors was seen as great climate leadership.

The company aims to identify gaps in the infrastructure that is needed to achieve the UN SDGs and work to address those gaps. All Acciona’s financing is through sustainability-linked instruments.

The financing costs of these instruments are linked to the company meeting quantifiable sustainability targets and generating a positive local impact on the environment.

These ‘double-impact’ instruments go further by guaranteeing positive impacts: if Acciona does not meet its targets, it will pay a penalty to UNEP, which will then deliver the impacts on Acciona’s behalf.

Acciona has two financial instruments, for EUR800m and EUR2.5bn, from Acciona and Acciona Energy. These sustainable instruments show that it is possible to increase the impact of sustainable finance instruments. 

Read about the award winners here: Finance for Future Award winners 2021 announced

Ready more about Finance for the Future here: Finance for the Future Awards

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