Making the Money Flow - Unlocking finance for circular and green economies in Asia

Friday 25 January 2019, Marine Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Singapore – “Making the Money Flow” the side event to the third session of Asia Pacific Ministerial Forum, jointly organized by PAGE, UN Environment Finance Initiative and the government of Korea, explored best practices of innovative financing to tackle environmental challenges and support sustainable consumption and production.

His excellency Cho Myung-rae, Minister of Environment, Republic of Korea, opened the floor with a keynote speech highlighting PAGE’s novel approach in bringing expertise from across UN agencies to support countries with their ambitions for lower carbon, more sustainable and more inclusive economic growth. Underlining Korea’s commitment to PAGE as a founding member since 2013, the Minister noted with satisfaction the growing regional engagement with countries across Asia and more widely across the globe.

Since its origins PAGE has functioned as a partnership of equals that work together across disciplines to deliver strong analytics, policy advice and capacity development for more sustainable economies. UN Environment, providing an overview of PAGE, looked at the tremendous opportunities to further align the Partnership with the sustainable development goals in the period beyond 2020. PAGE and other partnerships are indeed essential instruments to unlock finance needed to make the 2030 Agenda a reality.

Following the keynote speech and PAGE presentation, the event featured a lively discussion moderated by the CEO of Eco-Business, and included the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the Association of Bankers in Singapore, and other distinguished panelists.

Highlights included:

  • Recent innovations in unlocking private finance for sustainable development abound in Asia, which has become a center of gravity for sustainable finance. The Monetary Authority of Singapore pointed to new requirements for sustainability reporting and a growing prevalence of green bonds as indicators of this new momentum, underscoring the need for partnerships between public and private sectors to reach full effectiveness.

  • Although the task of financing the sustainable development goals and reducing climate risk can seem daunting, the rate and pace of progress in new financial vehicles for green finance is encouraging.  Noted in particular was a growing ability to raise project finance for renewables and green infrastructure, as well as advances in data and technology to better understand and measure the sustainability impacts of investing.

  • Nonetheless, much ground remains to be covered including better definition of regulatory framework for “transition risks” due to uncertainty surrounding national policies, particularly with regard to carbon pricing.   Promising steps such as the Network for Greening the Financial System, led by the Central Bank of France, were also noted.

  • Ultimately, progress in making the money flow will depend on a strong alignment between national policy and investment planning frameworks of the type promoted by PAGE, and engagement of the private sector in backing them up with sound investment.   A systemic approach to greening finance while desirable and probably inevitable need not delay the strong efforts already underway in Asia and beyond to make finance a driver of sustainability.

Watch the whole session here