The concept of double materiality is developing rapidly, with potential implications for monetary and financial policies. Double materiality builds on the historical accounting and auditing convention of materiality and expands it by considering that non-financial and financial corporations are not only materially vulnerable to environment-related events and risks, but also materially contribute to enabling dirty activities and environmental degradation.
Three rationales that support the use of double materiality are distinguished in this paper, each with different policy implications: i) an idiosyncratic perspective – closely connected to the concept of dynamic materiality – which considers that an entity’s environmental impacts are relevant as they provide information on the institution’s own risks; ii) a systemic risk perspective – closely connected to the concept of endogeneity of financial risks – which seeks to reduce financial institutions’ contribution to negative environmental externalities because of the systemic financial risks that could result from them; and iii) a transformative perspective seeking to reshape financial and corporate practices and values in order to make them more inclusive of different stakeholders’ interests and compatible with the actions needed for an ecological transition. Each of these rationales has potential implications for monetary and financial policies, as well as possible theoretical and practical challenges.
While the adoption of a double materiality perspective remains an open question, the concept proposes the opportunity to think more comprehensively about the role of the financial system in urgently addressing the ecological challenges of our times.
This paper is part of a toolbox designed to support central bankers and financial supervisors in calibrating monetary, prudential and other instruments in accordance with sustainability goals, as they address the ramifications of climate change and other environmental challenges. The papers have been written and peer-reviewed by leading experts from academia, think tanks and central banks and are based on cutting-edge research, drawing from best practice in central banking and supervision.