Sustainability issues in finance are not front-of-mind

21 May 2014   Category: News, Asia, Global   By David Macfarlane

The Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia (ASrIA) is calling on Asia’s finance industry to play a formative role in redefining the region’s economic growth and sustainable development models.

ASrIA’s Chief Executive Jessica Robinson said: “We know that the challenges we face in Asia are huge – but the simple yet worrying fact is that sustainability issues in finance are not front-of-mind and this urgently needs to change. ASrIA’s role as a regional thought leader is to facilitate this change and we are renewing our efforts in how we go about this.”

Ms. Robinson went on to address the following questions:

Q: What are the challenges that Asia faces?

A: We are witnessing rapid changes and developments in the economic, political and social agenda in Asia. Much of this change is driven by an increasing awareness of the risk of climate change, resource constraints and environmental degradation. A much better understanding of Asia’s natural capital is needed and our economic growth and sustainable development models must evolve to reflect this.

Q: What role can ASrIA play in this?

A: There is a broad consensus that ASrIA can be a driving force in the promotion of environmental, social and governance issues as material to the finance industry. In light of this and the changing dynamics of the market, our renewed focus will be on highlighting the need for private capital to play a leading role in financing the transition to a low carbon, resource efficient and equitable future. 

In the next chapter of our evolution, our goal is to encourage thoughtful participation by governments, multilateral bodies, corporates, NGOs and financial institutions in addressing the challenges that Asia will face in the years ahead. 

Q: Where next?

A: With so much required, we need to work collaboratively – industry, policy-makers, regulators, academics, NGOs – to think innovatively about how we can leverage the resources of the capital markets.

Our primary focus must be on solving Asia’s greatest developmental challenge – how to foster economic growth and poverty alleviation, while managing the environmental consequences that could accompany them.