Building a Climate Resilient Future with Sustainable Finance

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The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26, that was held in Glasgow in 2021, highlighted the need to mobilise public and private sector finance to support global net-zero emissions targets and to protect communities and habitats.

Sustainable Finance and Green Bonds present opportunities for lenders, investors, and borrowers. It allows borrowers to obtain funding at decreased and competitive costs. And as investor demands continue to rise, Government institutions have expressed keen interest in issuing green bonds to support ecologically beneficial initiatives. 

Here are some recent global announcements.

  • France announces the issuance of USD 4 billion green bond sale.
  • Germany raises USD 4 billion in green bonds to finance green expenditures and investments.
  • Singapore sets a roadmap for its first sovereign green bond with the Singapore Green Bond Framework.
  • Austria launches its first green bond.
  • The UK launches an inquiry into the role of the financial sector in the country’s net zero transition.
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Aligning Innovation and Regulation in a DeFi World

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It’s been a while since I lived in Zurich. It was about this time of year when I first visited the city that I instantly fell in love with. Beautiful blue skies and if you’re lucky enough, you can see the snow-capped mountains from Lake Zurich. It’s hard not to be instantly drawn to this small city of approximately 1.4 million people, which punches well above its weight class. One out of every eleven jobs in Switzerland is in Zurich. The financial sector generates around a quarter of the city’s economic output and provides approximately 59,000 full time equivalent jobs – accounting for 16% of all employment in the city.

Between 21-23 June, Zurich will also be home to the Point Zero Forum – an exclusive invite-only, in-person gathering of select global leaders, founders and investors with the purpose of developing new ideas on emerging concepts such as decentralised finance (DeFi), Web 3.0, embedded finance and sustainable finance; driving investment activity; and bringing together public and private sector leaders to brainstorm on regulatory requirements.

The Future of DeFi

Zug is a little canton outside of Zurich and is famously known as “Crypto Valley”. When I lived in Zurich, Zug was the home of many of the country’s leading hedge funds as Zug’s low tax, business friendly environment and fantastic quality of life attracted many of the world’s leading fund managers and companies. Today the same can be said about crypto companies setting up shop in Zug. And crypto ecosystems are expanding exponentially.

However, with the increase in the global adoption of cryptocurrency, what role will the regulators play in aligning regulation without stifling innovation? How can Crypto Valley and Singapore play a role in defining the role regulation will play in a DeFi world?

DeFi is moving fast and we are seeing an explosion of new ideas and positive outcomes. So, what can we expect from all of this? Well, that is what I will discuss with a group of regulators and industry players in a round table discussion on How an Adaptive and Centralised Regulatory Approach can Shape a Protected Future of Finance at the Point Zero Forum. We will explore the role of regulators in a fast-moving industry that has recently seen some horror stories and how industry participants are willing to work with regulators to meet in the middle to build an exciting and sometimes unpredictable future. How do we regulate something in the future? I am personally looking forward to the knowledge sharing.

For the industry to strive and innovate, we need both regulators and industry players to work together and agree to a working framework that helps deliver innovation and growth by creating new technology and jobs. But we also need to keep an eye out on the increasing number of scams in the industry. It is true to say that we have seen our fair share of them in recent months. The total collapse of TerraUSD and Luna and the collapse of the wider crypto market that saw an estimated loss of USD 500 billion has really spooked global markets.

So is cryptocurrency here for good and will it be widely adopted globally? How will regulators see the recent collapse of Luna and view regulations moving forward? We have reached an interesting point with cryptocurrencies and digital assets in general. Is it time to reflect on the current market or should we push forward and try to find a workable middle ground?

Let’s find out. Watch this space for my follow-up post after the Point Zero Forum event!

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The Future of Sustainability: Singapore’s Commitment to Green Plan 2030

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Innovation is at the core of Singapore’s ethos. The country has perfected the art of ‘structured innovation’ where pilots and proof of concepts are introduced and the successful ones scaled up by recalibrating technology, delivery systems, legislation, and business models. The country has adopted a similar approach to achieving its sustainability goals.  

The Singapore Green Plan 2030 outlines the strategies to become a sustainable nation. It is driven by five ministries: Education, National Development, Sustainability and the Environment, Trade and Industry, and Transport, and includes five key pillars: City in Nature, Sustainable Living, Energy Reset, Green Economy, and Resilient Future. We will see a slew of new programs and initiatives in green finance, sustainability, solar energy, electric vehicles (EVs), and innovation, in the next couple of years.

Singapore’s Intentions of Becoming a Green Finance Leader

Singapore is serious about becoming a world leader in green finance. The Green Bonds Programme Office was set up last year, to work with statutory boards to develop a framework along with industry and investor stakeholders. We have seen a number of sustainable finance initiatives last year, such as the National Environment Agency (NEA) collaborating with DBS to raise USD 1.23 billion from its first green bond issuance. The proceeds will fund new and ongoing sustainable waste management initiatives. Temasek collaborated with HSBC for a USD 110 million debt financing platform for sustainable projects and Sembcorp issued sustainability bonds worth USD 490 million.

Building an Ecosystm of Sustainable Organisations

Sustainability has to be a collective goal that will require governments to work with enterprises, investors and consumers. To ensure that enterprises are focusing on Sustainability, governments have to keep in mind what drives these initiatives and the challenges organisations face in achieving their goals.

There are several reasons driving organisations in Singapore to adopt sustainability goals and ESG responsibilities (Figure 1)

Key Drivers of Building a Sustainable Organisation in Singapore

It is equally important to address organisations’ challenges in building sustainability in their business processes. Last week, the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) set out 12 Sustainable Finance Technical Skills and Competencies (SF TSCs) required by people in various roles in sustainable finance. This addresses the growing demand for sustainable finance talent in Singapore; and covers knowledge areas such as climate change policy developments, natural capital, green taxonomies, carbon markets and decarbonisation strategies. There are Financial Services related competencies as well, such as sustainability risk management, sustainability reporting, sustainable investment management, and sustainable insurance and reinsurance solutions. The SF TSCs are part of the IBF Skills Framework for Financial Services.

Sustainable Resources Initiatives

Singapore is not only focused on Sustainable Finance. If we look at NEA’s Green Bonds, there are specific criteria that projects must satisfy in order to qualify, including a focus on sustainable waste management.

Last week the Government announced that the National Research Fund (NRF) will allocate around USD 160 million to drive new initiatives in water, reuse and recycling technologies, as part of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 plan (RIE2025). Part of the fund will be allocated to the Closing the Resource Loop (CTRL) initiative, administered by the NEA that will fund sustainable resource recovery solutions.  

Singapore faces severe resource constraints, and water security is not a new challenge for the country. The NRF funding will also be used partially for R&D in 3 water technology focus areas: desalination and water reuse; used water treatment; and waste reduction and resource recovery.

The Government is Leading the Way

The Government’s concerted efforts to make the Singapore Green Plan 2030 a success is seeing corporate participation in the vision. In February, Shell started supplying sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to customers such as SIA Engineering Company and the Singapore Air Force in Singapore. Shell has also upgraded their Singapore facility to blend SAF at multiple, key locations. Last week, Atlas announced their commitment to Web 3.0 technologies and “tech for good”. They aim to increase their green energy use to 75% by 2022; 90% by 2023; and 100% by 2024. ESG consciousness is percolating down from the Government.

The success of Singapore’s Sustainability strategies will depend on innovation, the Government’s ongoing commitment, and the support provided to enterprises, investors, and consumers. The Singapore Government is poised to lead from the front in building a Sustainable Ecosystem.

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Ecosystm Red: Global Digital Futures Awards for FinTech

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Recognising FinTechs that are changing lives, creating impact, demonstrating innovation, and building ecosystems to shape the Digital Future.

CATEGORIES:

Global Platform. Organisations that provide a platform to bring together industry stakeholders such as financial services institutions and FinTechs to drive ease of collaboration and innovation by accelerating proof of concept deployments

Financial Inclusion Impact. Organisations that promote financial inclusion in the unbanked and the underbanked with a focus on bridging the economic divide

Sustainable Finance Impact. Organisations that promote sustainable finance and have ESG values

Global Banking. Banks and financial services organisations that embrace digital technology for excellence in customer experience, process efficiency and/or compliance

Global Payments. Innovative use of technology and business models in payment areas

Global Lending. Innovation in alternative finance in areas such as microfinance for individuals and small & medium enterprises, P2P lending and crowdfunding

Customer Experience. Organisations that are driving an exceptional experience for their customers and setting new benchmarks within the industry

Global InsureTech. Excellence and innovation in InsureTech in areas such as micro-insurance, usage-based pricing, process optimisation and underwriting efficiency 

To find out about the winners, read on.

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To download Ecosystm Red: Global Digital Futures Awards for FinTech Awards Winners as a PDF, please click here.

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