GEFI & UNDP release Guide to Help Malaysian Banks Support SMEs on Sustainability

On Wednesday 29th June 2022 United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), in partnership with Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI), published a Guide for Malaysian Banks supporting SMEs in the Sustainable Recovery from Covid.

The Guide, launched at the inaugural Ethical Finance ASEAN 2022 summit, aims to assist Malaysian banks in helping Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to embed sustainability / ESG practices as business-as-usual and suggests practical steps and examples.

The findings presented in the Guide, as well as the development of a new Framework for banks, are based on the findings of a desk-based review and interviews with 13 Malaysian and international banks that took place earlier this year.

SMEs play a vital role in the Malaysian economy and, as has been the case across the globe, the research found that Malaysian SMEs have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 (covid) pandemic. As Governments commit to ‘building back better’ the recovery from covid provides an opportunity to align spending and initiatives towards creating a more sustainable future and taking action to combat pressing issues such as climate change.

The Guide found that SMEs in Malaysia are at an early stage of embedding sustainability as, for many, the focus has been on survival during the covid pandemic. While many corporates have made headway on sustainability initiatives, especially around net zero commitments, there is a risk that SMEs are left behind.

Banks are uniquely positioned to support SMEs in taking action on sustainability, both through finance related activities (such as developing sustainability products) and broader activities (such as capacity building). The research found that during the covid pandemic, Malaysian banks primarily supported SMEs through the disbursement of Government funding and ensuring continuity of business through digitalisation. There has been some wider activity to date but, as we recover from the covid pandemic, momentum is building amongst Malaysian banks to further support SMEs on their sustainability journey and further develop areas such as product development, capacity building, offering a one-stop-shop for sustainability initiatives and accelerator programmes.

The Guide provides a Framework for action that Malaysian banks can take in supporting SMEs in the sustainable recovery from the covid pandemic in three key areas:

  • Bank Wide Approach;
  • Supporting SMEs; and
  • Product Development.

The Framework - which is intended to supplement existing sustainability tools, frameworks and initiatives rather than replace them - identifies 19 key suggestions for bank wide approach, supporting SMEs and provides a step-by-step guide for product development. Each of these areas is supported by several practical steps augmented with of work already being undertaken by Malaysian and international banks.

Banks can play a significant role in supporting SMEs on their sustainability journey and the Guide highlights the appetite amongst Malaysian banks to further assist SMEs in progressing their sustainability journey. Further support could be through assisting SMEs in measuring greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, educating internal staff, capacity building for SMEs, further development of sustainability products and a greater consideration of the social and governance aspects of sustainability.

The Guide concludes that responsibility for assisting SMEs on sustainability should not lie with banks alone and support is also required from Government and other industry players to incentivise action.

Click Here to visit the UNEP FI page to access the Guide.


GEFI founder appears on Real Leaders podcast

GEFI founder Omar Shaikh joined Kevin Edwards for Episode 108 of the Real Leaders podcast to to interpret Milton Friedman’s essay on the Social Responsibility of Business, explore Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and how it applies to unchecked capitalism today, and ultimately discuss the humbleness and bravery that is needed to rethink today’s GDP construct and enter into the world of the unknown.

Listen now on Apple Podcasts or your favourite podcast provider!


Global action on climate adaptation

This article originally appeared on the CharteredBanker.com blog at https://www.charteredbanker.com/resource_listing/cpd-resources/global-action-on-climate-adaptation.html

Road surfaces that don’t melt during hot summers and drought-resistant seeds are the kind of solutions needed as the world adapts to climate change, according to the Global Commission on Adaptation.

The Commission, which is backed by more than 20 countries, including the UK, Germany and China, is running a Year of Action ahead of its Climate Adaption Summit in the Netherlands in October 2020.

Patrick Verkooijen, CEO, the Global Center on Adaptation, and Co-managing Partner of the Global Commission on Adaptation, said the initiative was about “implementing real solutions around the world which show that adaptation is not just the right thing to do but the smart thing to do.”

“Adaptation not only has economic benefits, but it is also essential if we are to avoid climate apartheid — a world in which the wealthy pay to escape from the worst impacts of climate change, while the poor are left to suffer,” Verkooijen added

International support

More than 75 governments, institutions, civil society organisations, and private sector players are helping to advance eight ‘Action Tracks’. These are focused on: finance and investment, food security and agriculture, nature-based solutions, water, cities, locally-led action, infrastructure, and preventing disasters.

As part of the finance and investment stream, the private-sector led Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment has been launched by London-based insurance broker and advisory business Willis Towers Watson in partnership with the governments of the UK and Jamaica, the Global Commission on Adaptation and the World Economic Forum.

It will focus on developing data and analytical tools to better understand the risks posed by climate change and to align investment flows towards infrastructure capable of withstanding a changing climate.

Resilient infrastructure

John Haley, CEO of Willis Towers Watson, said: “Pricing the risks posed by climate change will create opportunities to build a network of resilient infrastructure in high, medium and low-income countries, enabling us to better prevent future human and financial disasters.”

A report on climate resilient infrastructure from the OECD lists a range of impacts to infrastructure from temperature changes, rising sea levels, changing rainfall patterns and storms. These include melting road surfaces and buckling railway lines; damage to bridges; port and airport disruption and disruption of energy supply due to flooding.

The Global Commission on Adaptation is based in the Netherlands and led by Ban Ki-moon, 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank. It is guided by 33 commissioners and 19 convening countries, representing all regions of the globe, and co-managed by the Global Center on Adaptation and World Resources Institute.

The Chartered Banker Institute’s Green Finance Certificate™ is the first global, benchmark qualification for the growing Green Finance sector.


A new dawn for green bonds

This article originally appeared on the CharteredBanker.com blog at https://www.charteredbanker.com/resource_listing/cpd-resources/a-new-dawn-for-green-bonds.html

The green bonds market is expected to reach new highs this year after more than $200bn in green bonds and loans were issued in 2019 – a new global record.

Green bonds – also known as climate bonds – are fixed-income investments issued by governments and corporations as debt capital to fund climate and environmental projects.

“Green bonds are those where the proceeds raised are allocated to environmental projects or uses,” explained Simon Thompson, Chief Executive, Chartered Banker Institute. “They might be used to raise capital for a wide variety of purposes, including renewable energy projects, clean transport infrastructure, sustainable buildings, flood defences, or sustainable forestry and agriculture.”

The Climate Bonds Initiative – which promotes and tracks the green bond market internationally – reported in October that $202.2bn in green bonds and loans had been issued in 2019 – an all-time high for the green market.

The US issued the most bonds, followed by France, China, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden. Energy dominates overall use of proceeds at 33%, followed by low carbon buildings on 29%, low carbon transport 20%, water 9%, with waste and land use each at 3%.

Green trillions

In 2020, the initiative forecasts global annual green bond issuances to hit between $350-400bn. But to make a real impact, ‘green trillions’ is the goal.

“New sovereigns are entering the market and pioneers like France, Poland and Nigeria are now repeat green issuers,” said Sean Kidney, CEO and co-founder of the Climate Bonds Initiative.

“Bond size and diversity of issuers is increasing, and noteworthy is the presence of leading European and Chinese banks amongst the largest issuers.

“But $200bn or $400bn a year is not enough to address the climate emergency and provide the capital at the scale urgently required for large scale transition, adaptation and resilience.

“Generating that first $1tn in annual green investment by 2021/22 is now critical. It’s the benchmark from which to measure year on year growth in climate-based investment towards 2030.”

Critical role

In the UK, there are more than 100 green bonds from 16 countries listed on the London Stock Exchange, with the amount raised more than doubling since 2017 from $10.5bn to $26bn.

Globally, green bond issuance has climbed from $45bn in 2015 and $168bn in 2018.

The Institute’s Simon Thompson predicts that debt capital through green bonds will play an increasingly important role in financing the world’s shift to a low carbon economy.

“The scale of investment needed to finance the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon world – $6tn per year – will exceed both the capabilities of the post- financial crisis banking sector and the constrained balance sheets of utility companies,” Thompson said. “This is why the debt capital markets will be significant in facilitating the continued operation of existing projects via refinancing, and the development and construction of a wide range of new projects supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation.”