5 JUNE 2018, SINGAPORE – To shift Asia’s financial flows towards sustainable economic, social and environmental outcomes, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has announced the launch of the Asia Sustainable Finance Initiative (ASFI). Based in Singapore, this multi-stakeholder platform will bring together industry, government, civil society and academia to develop and coordinate science based best practices in sustainable finance across Asia. The initiative is supported by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
This was announced by Masagos Zulkifli, Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, at the ASIFMA 2018 Green Finance Conference today. In a keynote speech, Minister Masagos highlighted the role of ASFI in aligning a common vision amongst the diverse base of stakeholders, including industry, government, NGOs and academic institutions.
Building on the strengths of all parties, ASFI addresses the need for more resilient, climate smart, and resource efficient regional economies in Asia by ensuring that capital flows support environmentally sustainable economic activity. Singapore’s asset managers face a unique opportunity in this regard with 78% of funds sourced from overseas and 66% invested in Asia Pacific. The region’s banks too, play a pivotal part in shaping business behaviour across all sectors through their lending practices.
WWF’s Head of Asia Sustainable Finance, Jeanne Stampe says, “By creating the conditions to guide financial flows towards sustainable businesses, ASFI aims to elevate the resilience and therefore competitiveness of Singapore’s economy. ASFI will cement the country’s status as a leading and innovative sustainable finance centre that plays a crucial role in developing the region by creating positive economic, environment and social impacts.”
ASFI will kick off with an online knowledge hub in 2018 to house the latest research, tools, and best practices on sustainable finance. Moving ahead, the collaboration will build capacity on sustainable finance across Asia; co-develop green financial solutions with financial institutions (FIs); support the development of regionally relevant standards and guidelines, and help FIs to engage meaningfully with portfolio companies on sustainability risks and opportunities.
ASFI will build on the strides that have been made thus far in developing an ecosystem for sustainable finance in Asia. In Singapore, these include the introduction of banking sector guidelines for responsible financing, sustainability reporting listing requirements for companies, and the announcement of MAS’s Green Bonds Scheme. Regionally, pension funds in Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia and Korea are now integrating sustainability into their investment requirements, while the rise in national stewardship codes calls for more purposeful engagement with the corporate sector.