Abu Dhabi, October 20, 2023 — The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) successfully organized the biannual World Investment Forum (WIF), which convened from October 16 to 20, bringing together global leaders, experts, and innovators to address critical issues surrounding sustainable investments.
On the final day of this prestigious event, SynTao Green Finance and China SIF organized the Asia Sustainable Finance Roundtable, with Friends of the Earth Hong Kong and ClimateWorks Foundation co-organizers and AXA SPDB Asset Management and China Southern Asset Managers as strategic partners. Distinguished speakers and leaders in the field of sustainable finance participated, offering profound insights into the future of responsible investments.
The Roundtable is opened by Mr. Guo Peiyuan, Chairman of SynTao Green Finance and Chairman of China SIF, with the statement that "Asian region assumes a pivotal role in global transition finance. Regulatory bodies, financial institutions, corporations and civil society organizations shall proactively engage in concerted efforts, bolster communication, and foster collaboration to facilitate orderly transition in the Asian region." Followed by an opening speech by Mr. Anthony Miller, Chief Coordinator of Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative, UNCTAD. Mr. Plato Yip, Chairperson of Friends of the Earth (HK), emphasized in his speech about Hong Kong's role in spearheading green and sustainable finance and the potential for Hong Kong to become a global hub in areas such as the Voluntary Carbon Market. He underscored the importance of collaboration and Hong Kong's unique position within the Greater Bay Area for advancing sustainable finance, ultimately shaping the future of investments and finance in the 21st century. The last person to deliver an opening speech was Ms. Surabi Menon, COP28 Exec. Director Partnerships.
Ms. Margarita Pirovska, Head of Policy at PRI, delivered the first keynote speech on transition finance. She stated that “despite increasing action by governments to reach sustainability goals, macro-level indicators of environmental and social sustainability continue to move in the wrong direction”. Only a whole-of-government approach that mobilises all sectors of the economy and society at the relevant level will allow us to achieve a sustainable and equitable economy that benefits both economic growth and natural and social systems. Followed by Ms. Noran Bakr, Head of Risk at the Sovereign Fund of Egypt. She stated in her keynote speech that "Egypt is keen to expand the production and usage of green hydrogen as a clean energy source and to be one of the largest exporters of clean hydrogen in the region." The last keynote in this session is delivered by Ms. Clémence Humeau, Head of Sustainability Coordination and Governance, AXA IM. She underlined that “As a global asset manager committed to Net Zero, we continuously look at ways to support real-world decarbonization by investing in companies which have robust transition strategies to support their transformation, investing in green solutions and engaging with investing companies on their climate ambition. Working with peers, investee companies and policy-makers to pursue those efforts in Asia is a key priority for us, and we are thrilled to participate to the Asia Sustainable Finance Roundtable.”
A panel discussion on transition finance followed and was moderated by Ms. Nirnita Talukdar, Regional Coordinator for Asia Pacific, UNEP FI. She said that, "Transition finance holds the key towards a sustainable future by reshaping how we invest, ensuring that our financial strategies align with the pressing climate imperatives. Asia, as a pivotal player in the global economy, has a unique opportunity to drive this change. The dialogue on Asia's sustainable finance landscape on October 20, 2023 at WIF2023 is an exciting opportunity for us to hear from experts, each with a unique vantage point, to guide us through the intricate landscape of climate transition finance in the Asian region. Its urgent that the power of finance is harnessed towards a sustainable, resilient and low-carbon future."
Panelists of this session are:
Mr. Yang Yuebin, Fund Manager of Equity Investment, AXA SPDB Investment Managers, stated, "Within the framework we endorse, wherein the integration of value investing and ESG principles is paramount, ESG represents the conduit, the "Tao", if you will. It is a system of values, as it champions the noble concept of sustainable human development and serves as an essential prerequisite for the practice of long-term value investing. Value investing, on the other hand, serves as the craft, a methodological approach that boasts a well-articulated logical structure and draws strength from extensive empirical validation. The symbiotic union of these two elements embodies the notion advocated by Nobel laureate Mr. Jean Tirole – that one should endeavor to do good while also doing well."
Ms. Michelle Leung, ESG Analyst at Bloomberg LP stated, "Despite the world's rapid growth in renewable development in the past decade, we need more. G20 countries, which account for 81% of global emissions, agreed to triple renewable energy capacity globally by 2030."
Ms. Suhana Dewi Selamat, Executive Director, Head, Governance, Risk & Compliance, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, stated, "To secure a whole-of-the-world response, we must collaborate, advocate, and lead by example. We must recognize that the responsibility to address climate change transcends borders and requires a global commitment."
And finally, Mr. Chinmay Joshi, Chief Financial Officer at Tiqmo, concluded the first panel discussion with his statement, saying, "Sustainability is the bedrock of responsible finance, and engagement is the key to a prosperous, purpose-driven future".
In conjunction with the Asia Sustainable Finance Roundtable, SynTao Green Finance unveiled the second installment of its ESG Survey Report series, which focuses on the attitudes of asset owners toward responsible investments in China. The report provides a comprehensive and insightful analysis of the perspectives and strategies adopted by asset owners in the rapidly evolving landscape of responsible investments.
This report series aims to contribute to the ongoing dialogue on responsible finance and to facilitate informed decision-making among industry stakeholders. It builds upon SynTao Green Finance's commitment to advancing sustainable and socially responsible investment practices in the region.
The second half of the session started with two keynote speeches on engagement for transition. First to deliver her speech was Ms. Michelle Xian, Senior Vice President of ESG research and investment and Co-head of sustainable investment in Southern Asset Management. She believes that the transition from traditional energy to new energy source needs to be based on the energy safety and reliability, in order to minimize the negative impacts to economic development and social stability. Rather than simply conduct divestment from carbon-intensive companies as a solution, Southern Asset Management leverages our systems' ESG indicators to gear towards the pain points of the company, to suggest to them how to transit more smoothly, to adapt to the gradual downward trend of fossil energy consumption in the future. Mr. Benjamin McCarron, Managing Director, Asia Research and Engagement (ARE) then followed and underlined in his keynote speech that "The investors we collaborate with want companies to produce transition pathways with clear short and medium-term actions. The investors both support companies in this process and escalate engagement where companies fail to act."
The second panel discussion on engagement for transition was moderated by Ms. Valerie Kwan, Director of Stewardship and Corporate Engagement and she said, "Moderating the panel of diverse expertise on climate transition has brought interesting insights as we explore the multiple levers of engagement at a corporate and policy level. The panel's further definition of climate transition and ways to overcome gaps and barriers in Asian markets also suggests that investors will benefit from engaging in different markets tailored approaches across different Asian markets." Mr. Gabriel Wilson-Otto, Director of Sustainable Investing, Fidelity International, said in this panel that "Fragmented and inconsistent definitions of 'green' or 'transition' can constrain the willingness, or in some cases ability, of financial sector participants to support issuers in their journey towards decarbonization. Addressing this challenge will be a key step towards accelerating the transition in the Asia Pacific region."
Ms. Tanya Xu, Lead ESG Analyst, Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management, said "In SMDAM, we strive to meaningfully bridge the gap between global investor expectations and Asia's transition reality through multiple channels to make Asia's transition happen in an active and long-term oriented way."
Mr. Mishal Al Ismail, Head of Compliance & AML, Albilad Capital, stated, "Sustainability development is a must to be among the top economies. Financial Institutions must adopt the change and face the challenges to keep up with the world Sustainability development."
Ms. Ralitza Germanova, Lead of Sustainability Disclosure and Transparency Program, IFC, said, "Making green investment an engine of growth and job creation in emerging markets is not a luxury, it is a necessity. The new climate disclosure standards help increase transparency and enable standardization of material climate issues and data, ultimately empowering investors and other stakeholders to constructively consider and engage on sustainability-related matters. All hands must be on deck to build capacity and help developing countries through their energy transition and journey to net zero."
Mr. Zhang Xiaohua, China Country Director of ClimateWorks Foundation, believes that "Transition finance plays a pivotal role in bolstering the energy transition of developing nations, particularly Asian countries. China, in particular, is actively scaling up transition finance to expedite clean energy transition. By leveraging international collaboration platforms such as South-South cooperation, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and the Global Development Initiative, China's transition finance practices can significantly contribute to the clean energy transition of Asian nations."
The whole Roundtable was concluded by Mr. Paul Clements-Hunt, Founder of The Blended Capital Group and Director, Mishcon Purpose, at UK law firm, Mishcon de Reya LLP. He said: "Asia will be at the epicentre of global efforts to deliver the UN SDGs and if the region succeeds in that it will light a path for countries worldwide."
The UNCTAD, SynTao Green Finance and China SIF, AXA SPDB Asset Management, China Southern Asset Managers, Friends of the Earth and ClimateWorks Foundation are proud to have collaborated in the creation of this significant event, further advancing the mission of sustainable finance in the Asian region.
For more information on the Asia Sustainable Finance Roundtable or to access the ESG Survey Report for Asset Owners, please visit www.syntaogf.com. For media inquiries and interview requests, please contact Mr. Liu Xiao at firstname.lastname@example.org or +86 10 5907 1078/79.
About SynTao Green Finance and China SIF
SynTao Green Finance (STGF) is one of the first Chinese organizations to provide green finance and ESG responsible investment services, starting ESG data collection and research as early as 2009. STGF ESG ratings (SynTaoGF-ESG) has been onboarding on Bloomberg Intelligence, making it the first Chinese ESG rating agency to have its data displayed on Bloomberg.
China Sustainable Investment Forum (China SIF) is dedicated to promoting responsible investment and providing an internationalized platform for exchanging and sharing ideas on issues concerning sustainable development, with focus on facilitating Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) integration, advocating green finance, and contributing to a responsible capital market in China as well as its sustainability.