AICB-GEFI Convene ASEAN Financial Leaders to Tackle ESG Issues

This year’s theme, “ESG in a Volatile World: Profit, Purpose or Politics?”, focused on the crucial role of the ASEAN region in the current global ESG agenda

AICB-GEFI Convene ASEAN Financial Leaders to Tackle ESG Issues

Kuala Lumpur (5 July 2022): The Asian Institute of Chartered Bankers (AICB) and UK-based Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) jointly organised the inaugural Ethical Finance ASEAN 2022 (EF2022) summit virtually on 29 June, featuring financial leaders from Southeast Asia, the wider APAC region and beyond.

This year’s theme, “ESG in a Volatile World: Profit, Purpose or Politics?”, focused on the crucial role of the ASEAN region in the current global ESG agenda, and the financial industry’s role as a key player in advancing sustainability, responsible banking and the wider ESG agenda in the region. EF ASEAN 2022 attracted over 1,000 delegates from over 90 countries.

AICB Chairman Tan Sri Azman Hashim says, “Achieving the goal of climate neutrality is a collective responsibility and to that end, the financial sector has an enormous influence on the outcome of climate action. It is therefore imperative that we do our part to facilitate the provision of climate finance and accelerate the pace of adoption of responsible banking practices in the ASEAN region.”

The esteemed line-up of speakers comprised, among others, leading financial and corporate leaders, academicians, analysts and policymakers from various institutions, including abrdn, Standard Chartered, United Nations, Sime Darby Plantation, BNP Paribas, HSBC, United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative  (UNEP FI), Space Intelligence, SME Bank, UOB, Maybank, Bank Negara Malaysia, CIMB Group, the University of Edinburgh and more, which gave their views on how to finance the vital transition to a just, sustainable economy in one of the most biodiverse regions in the world.

Additionally, the summit saw the launch of the Guide for Malaysian Banks Supporting SMEs in the Sustainable Recovery from Covid-19, produced by organisers GEFI on behalf of UNEP FI. The Guide provides actionable steps for banks in Malaysia — and other countries — to finance SMEs and enable them to transition towards sustainability.

AICB and ESG

AICB Chief Executive Edward Ling says, “Financial institutions across the region have prioritised climate change initiatives, evidenced through the progressive integration of ESG considerations into their organisational strategies, frameworks, and standards in lending and investment.

"However, there is still much to do especially in the area of capacity building. AICB is committed to further developing the capacity of finance professionals to advance the responsible and sustainable banking agenda through our professional qualifications and will continue providing various thought leadership platforms such at this Summit for these crucial discussions to continue."

The final keynote was delivered by Mahmoud Mohieldin, United Nations Special Envoy on Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and ex-Minister of Investment for Egypt, who called for a holistic approach in dealing with climate change and invited the ASEAN countries to contribute their valuable perspectives to the upcoming COP27 climate summit, to be held in Egypt.