DigitalCFO Newsroom | 4 January 2022
For ASEAN to accelerate and meet the requirements by its global partners for greater sustainable trade and commerce, leaders must adopt a mega shift in behaviour and mindset. They must recognise that sustainability will require fundings and it should be accepted as an investment to the business; not a cost to doing business.
This needs to refocus sustainability impact to a social dimension as core in doing business, together with an acceptable pace to enable a just transition, will address the concerns and pressure from major trade partners such as the United States, European Union, and China for more sustainable commitments by ASEAN.
To drive the region and nation towards this change, the recently concluded GO ESG ASEAN 2021, an annual summit organized by UN Global Compact Network Malaysia & Brunei (UNGCMYB) and themed ‘Achieving a Sustainable ASEAN: Raising Business SDG Ambitions and Mainstreaming Sustainable Financing’ highlighted several solutions and steps that can be taken to address existing shortcomings.
i) Corporations should be built on humanity centric values that will ride out the challenges of generations and always remain future proof.
ii) Sustainability should be a major pillar to guide businesses but would require a significant amount of investment and funding to be effective.
iii) ASEAN cannot act on its own. Regulators should come together to work on policies incentivising sustainability to ensure consistency in the region.
iv) Investors in the region need to support and increase change to accelerate sustainability actions in their investee companies.
v) Chief Financial Officers play an important role in advancing the sustainable finance landscape. Financial support is required in closing the SDG financing gap in the ASEAN region, to ensure a sustainable recovery from the pandemic and to rebuild resilience.
GO ESG ASEAN aims to provide deeper insights and showcase best practice actions from ASEAN and global leaders on raising SDG ambition and pathways of achieving them. This year’s virtual conference and exhibition had over 1,800 registrants from ASEAN and beyond.
“As the global economy recovers from the pandemic, there is opportunity to institutionalise sustainable actions that will enable ASEAN to play a leadership role in sustainable development especially with the growing ESG conscious behaviour demanded of businesses. These business actors must realise the potential USD1 trillion green economy for ASEAN, with sustainable financing being a key value differentiator,” said Faroze Nadar, Executive Director of UNGCMYB.
“ASEAN’s pathway towards a sustainable future, differs from its global counterparts, considering the differing social and economic development factors, which present an opportunity for ASEAN businesses to reshape the future of corporate finance and investment as a catalyst for growth, value creation and social impact,” he added.