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"The finance sector is somewhere I can make a difference"

January 10, 2024

Meet Caitlin Pallett, part of the Sustainability Strategy team at Mizuho EMEA. We spoke to her to find out more about her role, why sustainability is important to her and how her team is supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“I’ve always been interested in conservation,” explains Caitlin. “I grew up with multiple pets, visiting local nature reserves or going to the zoo. I think the turning point from a passion into a career was after a very fortunate trip to the Galapagos Islands before my A-levels. I came so close to some of the weirdest and most beautiful places and animals on the planet and that’s what pushed me into taking my interest more seriously – to try and protect and preserve what I had seen.”

Caitlin, who graduated with a First Class BSc in Zoology from the University of Leeds in 2022, joined Mizuho as part of the 10-week internship programme in 2021.

“I originally planned to do some voluntary conservation work internationally, but due to the COVID pandemic, I had to look for alternatives,” says Caitlin. “Given that a significant amount of financing is needed from the private sector, I thought the finance sector was somewhere I could make a difference.”

After completing the internship, Caitlin was offered a role in the 2022 graduate programme. As somebody with a non-financial degree, Caitlin felt that she had a lot more to learn than other graduates and, in the beginning, suffered from imposter syndrome.

“I quickly realised that Mizuho really values diversity of thought and that I had a range of transferable skills from my degree. The culture here made me comfortable and valued for bringing my ideas and experience to the table when it came to sustainability-related knowledge.”

“The culture here made me comfortable and valued for bringing my ideas and experience to the table when it came to sustainability-related knowledge.”

Caitlin Pallett,
Sustainability Strategy

When asked what she would say to her younger self now that she works in the finance sector, Caitlin responds, “if we are going to make the transition happen, you have to tackle the problems head on. It isn’t going to be easy, but it will be worth it”

Sustainability in the finance sector

According to Mckinsey, the average annual universal spend needs to reach over $9 trillion for energy, transport, industry, buildings, agriculture, forestry, and land use to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

“It’s such an exciting time to be working in the sector. Sentiment has shifted massively which means the sustainable finance markets are now booming, and sustainability and climate change mitigation and adaptation is now being viewed as an opportunity, as well as a risk,” explains Caitlin. “So, by working at Mizuho, I feel that I am accelerating that real economy transition.”

“I’d make little 16 year old me in the Galapagos really, really proud knowing that I’ve made it here and I’m utilising my potential to make a difference”

On a personal note, Caitlin is also especially excited about the more recent emergence of nature positive projects and transitions, which according to the World Economic Forum could generate up to $10.1 trillion in annual business value as well as the creation of 395 million jobs.

“In Ecuador for example, they’ve recently refinanced around $1.6 billion of its commercial debt at a discount in exchange for a consistent revenue stream for conservation around the Galápagos Islands.” explains Caitlin. “These debt-for-nature swaps essentially allow developing countries to reduce their debt in exchange for guaranteed conservation finance.”

In 2021 Mizuho became the first financial services group in Japan to publish a TCFD report, an initiative by the Financial Stability Board to improve and increase reporting of climate-related financial information.

“One of the main evolutions we’ve seen is sustainability moving from its risk driven origins, to encompass both risk and opportunity,” says Caitlin. “So, even things like carbon markets which have had their controversies, have seen dramatic improvements and now they’re seen as important because they fund things like reforestation or mangrove forests, which sequester carbon from the atmosphere, and we need that in the short term.”

As reporting continues to improve, Caitlin is more certain than ever that her move into the finance sector was the right move in making a difference.

“In 2023 a report was published that found that 55% of global GDP (approximately $58 trillion) is moderately or highly dependent on nature,” she explains. “There’s a stronger, data-driven link, now, more than ever before between climate, nature and financial risks and the ability to connect those dots is helping us to achieve a nature-positive low-carbon transition in a timely manner.”

A day in the life

As part of her role in the Sustainability Strategy team, Caitlin is responsible for a range of work, from keeping on top of regulations and disclosure frameworks, to making sure that Mizuho EMEA stays transparent with clients via risk analysis, developing sustainability education materials and monitoring Mizuho EMEA’s own in-house sustainability practices.

“There’s a stronger, data-driven link, now, more than ever before between climate, nature and financial risks and the ability to connect those dots is helping us to achieve a nature-positive low-carbon transition in a timely manner.”

Caitlin Pallett,
Sustainability Strategy

“On the client side, we often receive and respond to due diligence questionnaires that generally relate to our own in-house practices and strategic ambitions, including reaching net zero by 2050 and mobilising ¥100 trillion in sustainable finance by 2030.”

When it comes to colleagues, a large part of Caitlin’s role is focused on upskilling and educating them around sustainability.

“We think this is really important in helping to achieve our Group sustainability transformation, as we want each individual to be able to understand the role that they can play.”

Since joining, Caitlin has rolled out colleague training across the EMEA region, ranging from intern and graduate training on day one, all the way through to collaborating with external learning platforms to create a comprehensive sustainability training curriculum.

Making a difference

As well as her day job, Caitlin is also heavily involved in Mizuho’s employee networks and committees, becoming the Charity Committee Secretary after six months with Mizuho.

“This role has grown and considerably evolved into supporting the Chair of the committee,” she says. “We organise fundraising events for our charity partner, Little Village as well as Mizuho’s annual volunteer day and participating in the Lord Mayor’s Show in the City of London.”

In her spare time Caitlin still keeps up on her scientific knowledge around zoology as well as sponsoring animals around the globe.

“I sponsor a polar bear and a pangolin, as well as a Hawaiian (nēnē) goose which is particularly special because there was less than 30 of this species left in the 1950’s and there’s now around 4,000 in existence because of significant conservation efforts and sponsorships.”

When asked if she feels that she’s making a difference at Mizuho, Caitlin responds, “one of the big transferable skills that I have is passion, and being able to funnel that into conversations to drive change and make a difference is really rewarding.”

“Since I’ve joined, and through initiatives that I’m leading on, I’ve seen real valuable change across Mizuho – and that’s down to the way that me and my team are funnelling our passion,” she summarises.

 

 

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