Growing interest seen in sustainable finance, says Asean capital market regulators

Growing interest seen in sustainable finance, says Asean capital market regulators
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KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 3): There have been US$2.6 billion worth of green and sustainable bonds issued carrying the Asean Green or Sustainable Bond labels in the past two years, according to capital market regulators in Asean.

This comes in less than two years after the launch of the Asean Green Bond Standards in November 2017 and the Asean Social Bond Standards and Asean Sustainable Bond Standards in 2018, the Asean Capital Markets Forum (ACMF) noted in a statement today.

“The issuances, which originated from Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand to fund green buildings, renewable energy and other sustainable projects, demonstrate the growing interest in sustainable finance by issuers and intermediaries throughout the region to finance development projects.

"This encouraging progress is a validation of the ACMF’s efforts to promote the sustainable finance agenda in the broader capital market, through the Roadmap for ASEAN Sustainable Capital Markets," the ACMF said.

The ACMF is a high-level grouping of capital market regulators from 10 ASEAN countries, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The group just had its 31st meeting in Phuket yesterday to discuss the progress of their initiatives on sustainability, connectivity and resilience, and to reiterate a strong path towards sustainable capital markets, as well as reaffirm their direction to promote sustainability, connectivity and resilience in the region's capital markets.

Among topics discussed were the proposed Roadmap for ASEAN Sustainable Capital Markets, whereby members agreed it should address key areas like environmental, social and governance (ESG) information standards, analytical tools, and stakeholder awareness and engagement.

The initiative to develop the roadmap was endorsed by the ASEAN Finance Ministers’ and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting (AFMGM) in April 2019. It seeks to promote a common vision and comprehensive direction towards an ecosystem for sustainable capital market development, as well as an ASEAN asset class for sustainable investment.

Meanwhile, the ACMF said it also welcomed feedback from institutional investors at its Phuket meeting, through the ACMF Industry Consultative Panels, and gathered comments on and recommendations for the roadmap.

"A representative from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) also shared insights on the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The principles cover a key aspect of ESG responsibility/investment and echo the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The roadmap, industry consultation and sharing on the principles, demonstrate the ACMF’s commitment to advance the sustainability agenda in the regional capital markets," it added.