FIR Annual Conference 2023

Sustainability in Finance: How to Make Decarbonisation Happen?


The Faculty of International Relations, Prague University of Economics and Business has been organizing an annual conference dedicated to discussing the Czech Republic’s competitiveness and its future in the changing global environment since 2014.

This year´s topic was Sustainability in Finance: How to make decarbonisation happen?

Watch a recording of the FIR Annual Conference 2023:

Transformation of the economy towards ‘net zero’ is inevitable. This will include a number of sectors including energy, mobility and many others, necessitating a critical shift from traditional production and consumption. This crucial shift goes hand in hand with public and private financing. The volume required will be enormous and the financial sector will play a crucial role in delivering the carbon neutral economy in the EU by 2050. The European Commission estimates that approximately €350 billion of additional investment is required in the energy system alone each year up to 2030 in order to meet the 55% emission reduction target. Across all of the sustainability objectives, the yearly investment gap is estimated at € 630 billion. 

Sustainable finance refers to investment that take the ‘ESG’ considerations into account when decision about investment is being made. Even though the EU has made a significant effort to offer the actors and stakeholders guidance that will bring the sustainability to everyday life, some concerns remain.

How can governments and policymakers assist in improving a market uptake of sustainability initiatives? 

Should state-owned or state-controlled enterprises be the first to adopt Taxonomy alignment and ‘transition finance’? 

Which sectors in Czechia still lack investments for a swift decarbonization and how can a government help? 

The working language of the conference is English.

Our annual event took place on October 18, 2023, at Academic Club, VŠE.



Welcome and opening remarks

Josef Taušer, Dean, Faculty of International Relations, Prague University of Economics and Business



Sustainability in Finance: Bringing transformation to real life

Martin Špolc, Head of the Sustainable Finance, Directorate General for Financial Services, European Commission

Ota Melcher, Head of Economic Transformation Unit, Ministry of Finance, Czechia

Linda Zeilina, CEO and Founder, International Sustainable Finance Centre

Moderator: Daniel Houska, Vice-Dean for Study Affairs, FIR Prague University of Economics and Business, Member of EU Platform for Sustainable Finance


16:30 – 17:00 Coffee Break



Decarbonization: Public finance and private financing

What scenarios for Czechia?

Hélène Lanier, Managing Director of 2DII France

Richard Juřík, Deputy Director of the Department of Environmental Policy and Sustainable Development, Ministry of the Environment, Czechia

Raúl García-Rodríguez, Deloitte Sustainability and ESG advisory team Leader

Moderator: Jarolím Antal, Director, Centre for European Studies, Faculty of International Relations, Prague University of Economics and Business





Josef Taušer, Dean of the Faculty of International Relations, VŠE
Josef Taušer, Dean of the Faculty of International Relations, VŠE

Josef Taušer graduated in International Trade at Faculty of International Relations, Prague University of Economics and Business. Since 2003 he works at the Department of International Trade. Currently, he is guarantor of the Master’s degree in International Trade and Deputy Head of the Department. In 2008 he was appointed associate professor and in 2012-2013 he served as vice-dean for science and as legal representative of the dean. Josef Taušer regularly lectures at universities in France (AUDENCIA School of Management, Nantes, Lyon IAE) and Austria (WU Wien), where he teaches international financial management, in English and German.

He is author of numerous papers in journals with impact factor, co-author of 3 books, and of another 17 peer-reviewed articles. He participated in international and national scientific projects and is a member of the executive boards 5 academic journals. Josef is also member of the Board at the Academy of Business, CEE Chapter (AIB-CEE).


Daniel Houska
Daniel Houska

Daniel Houska is a member of the EU Platform on Sustainable Finance and a Vice Dean at the Faculty of International Relations, at the Prague University of Economics and Business. Daniel has been engaged in sustainable finance framework in the EU since 2019 and teaches Sustainability Reporting aligned to the upcoming European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) and Taxonomy. Apart from that, he is also a lecturer at the Czech Chamber of Auditors and a member of the expert groups at the Czech Chamber of Commerce.

Jarolím Antal
Jarolím Antal

Jarolím Antal holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Political Science from UCM University in Trnava, Slovakia. During his studies, he spent one year at the Institute for Intercultural and International Studies, University of Bremen. In 2010, he took part in the International Parliamentary Scholarship Program where he worked as a Fellow of the German Parliament for five months in Berlin in the Office of MP Frank Schäffler. From 2010 to 2011 and later in 2013, Mr. Antal was a Research Fellow for the Faculty of International Relations at the Prague University of Economics and Business, where he helped with the faculty’s Research Plan called “Governance in Context of Globalized Economy and Society.” Concurrent with his work in the Faculty of  International Relations, Mr. Antal also worked as a Project Manager at the Center for European Studies at the same university. In 2012 he was a visiting fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, SAIS, John Hopkins University in Washington DC.  Between February and April 2022 he was on a research stay at the St. Antonys College, University of Oxford. Since 2014 he has served as the director of CES. His research includes: EU-US economic relations, EU trade policy, EU institutions


Linda Zeilina-Cross
Linda Zeilina-Cross
Linda is the Founder & CEO of ISFC, where she oversees its work on sustainability strategies, sustainable investing, and international ESG standardisation efforts. In 2023, Linda was selected as the 2023 Obama Europe Leader, and she joined the EU’s Platform on Sustainable Finance to advise on the usability of the EU Taxonomy and the wider sustainable finance framework.
Linda is a Fellow at the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) in London, a non-executive director at a London-based logistics startup, Pedal Me, and a Member of the Agora Energiewende Council for Europe. She is also an advisory board member at the Romanian Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (RoSIF) and the Czech Sustainable Investing Forum (CzechSIF).
Linda is an alumna of the University of Glasgow, McGill University and the London School of Economics.
Martin Špolc
Martin Špolc

Martin Spolc is the Head of the Sustainable Finance unit in the European Commission’s Directorate General for Financial Services.

Prior to his current role, he was the Head of the Capital Markets Union unit, the Economic analysis unit, Deputy Head of the Banking unit and Assistant to the Director General, directly involved in developing the Banking Union and other key projects in the area of financial services aiming at restoring financial stability since the crisis. Before joining the Commission, he had worked at risk management consultancy and the banking sector.

He is the holder of the CFA and FRM designations and member of the CFA Institute and Global Association of Risk Professionals. He hold MA from Faculty of International Relations, Prague University of Economics and Business.

Ota Melcher
Ota Melcher

Ota leads the Economic Transformation unit at the Ministry of Finance of the Czech Republic. The unit primarily manages the public sector’s work on sustainable finance and supports its role in facilitating a transition to a low-carbon economy.

Prior to his current position, Ota worked at the Czech Mission to the OECD as an Economic and Financial Counsellor covering a wide spectrum of policy areas and interactions. Before that, he spent a number of years in macroeconomic forecasting and structural policy design teams at the Ministry of Finance.

Ota graduated from Prague University of Economics and Business with a degree in International Trade and from the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies, with a degree in Development Studies. He also holds a Ph.D. degree in international trade from the Prague University of Economics and Business.

Hélène Lanier
Hélène Lanier

Hélène is the Managing Director of 2° Investing Initiative France. Hélène has 15 years of experience in the financial industry and regulation. She leads sustainable finance projects in Europe and abroad on topics related to greening the financial sector, transition plans, and sustainability disclosure. She is a member of the European Platform on Sustainable Finance.

Raúl García Rodriguéz
Raúl García Rodriguéz

Raul leads the sustainability and climate advisory team at Deloitte CZ & SK. He is also the leader of Deloitte’s sustainable real estate working group in CE Region and is part of the EMEA sustainability strategy steering committee; also being a member of the CE business development leadership for the Region. He is passionate about land remediation, creating and preserving value through efficient, circular use of resources.

With more than 25 years of International appointments in Public Institutions & Private Corporations currently leads a team of 10 sustainability practitioners in CZSK coordinating local and international engagements and sourcing delivery teams from within a team of around 200 professionals in Deloitte’s CE sustainability practice.

At Deloitte Raul works actively in creating comprehensive ESG strategies with a variety of solutions and compulsory ESG-related measures and has gained further insights through engagements in various industries: energy, FMCG, automotive and finance at local and regional engagements.

Richard Juřík
Richard Juřík

Richard serves as Deputy Director of the Department of Environmental Policy and Sustainable Development at the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic.
Richard has long been dedicated to the development of evidence-based policy and the integration of environmental and economic policies within the Czech state administration. He took part in the preparation of the Adaptation Strategy of the Czech Republic, leads the impact assessment of the EU climate and energy policies on the Czech Republic, and elaboration methodological guidelines for the implementation of the „do no significant (environmental) harm“ principle and climate proofing of infrastructure with respect to EU funds in the Czech Republic. He is among the Czech negotiators for the EU taxonomy for sustainable investments and continues to focus on the topic of sustainable finance. Richard’s university background includes the Faculty of International Relations, Prague University of Economics and Business, and the Faculty of Law, Charles University.



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