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The State of Sustainability Training in the Financial Sector

Updated: Feb 4

Only 5% of institutions managing over $13.1 trillion in assets offer enterprise wide sustainability training.


Authors : Matt Orsagh, Nawar Alsaadi, Maria Maisuradze

Montreal, September 12, 2023


Advancing the role of sustainability in the financial sector presents a significant operational, cultural, and strategic challenge to numerous financial institutions.


To shed light on how the financial sector is leveraging sustainability training to address this challenge, the ED4S team carried out sustainability training consultation aimed at the financial sector.


The consultation involved thirty-nine sustainability leaders from institutions spread across the globe, representing over $13.1 trillion in assets.


To shed light on how the financial sector is leveraging sustainability training to address this challenge, the ED4S team carried out sustainability training consultation aimed at the financial sector. The consultation involved thirty-nine sustainability leaders from institutions spread across the globe, representing over $13.1 trillion in assets.



The findings revealed a diverse range of sustainability training practices, including different training methods, techniques, and resources.

Key findings

  • Close to two-thirds (64%) of those surveyed say that their organizations provide some kind of sustainability training to employees.

  • Nearly half of those surveyed (45%) stated that sustainability training should be provided to the whole firm. Interviews conducted with survey participants echoed this sentiment, noting that if a company sees sustainability as a top priority, training should include all staff.

  • Foundational Sustainability, Climate Risks, and ESG integration were the most prominent sustainability training topics offered to employees, chosen by 85%, 48%, and 37% of those surveyed respectively.

  • Climate change, ESG integration, Sustainability risks, and opportunities were the most sought out topics for sustainability training by those surveyed.

  • Budget and time constraints, lack of sustainability prioritization, and lack of sustainability/ESG expertise were the most cited challenges to sustainability training.


  • Training was most often provided to portfolio managers (70% of the time), executives (63%), the sustainability team (63%) and analysts (59%).

  • The vast majority of surveyed firms pursue a “surgical” sustainability training approach focused on certain functions and departments, rather than pursue a firm-wide sustainability training approach.

The report also provides examples of best-in-class sustainability training practices and cites the most common sustainability certifications/programs made available to staff within the surveyed financial institutions.


Maria Maisuradze, CEO and Founder of ED4S noted, "The sustainability teams alone do not have sufficient capacity nor a clear blueprint to drive sustainability training in a systematic way at financial firms. At ED4S, we believe effective, learner-focused sustainability training can unite employees from different departments, align them with sustainability goals, and accelerate organizational progress. Through this research, we hope to accelerate and improve sustainability training across the financial sector, both through our own offering and by helping financial institutions identify the best sustainability capacity-building topics and practices”.


“I am deeply encouraged by the findings of the report, the fact that two-thirds of the financial institutions surveyed offer a degree of sustainability training speaks to the growing recognition within the financial industry as to the central role of sustainability in value creation, risk mitigation, and opportunity identification," added, Nawar Alsaadi, Strategic Advisor to ED4S.


Matt Orsagh, Chief Content Officer at ED4S, reflected, "What stood out from this consultation is the strong desire exhibited by all participants for more comprehensive and impactful sustainability training. The overarching message from this report is abundantly clear – we are merely at the initial stages of an extensive sustainability transformation within the financial sector."


A full version of the report can be downloaded for free by clicking below:



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