Singapore Sustainable Finance Forum Targets Best Practice

The Singapore Sustainable Finance Association aims to support low-carbon transition and sustainable economic growth in the APAC region. 

In a move to promote collaboration between the financial industry and other sectors in driving sustainability initiatives, Singapore has launched a new cross-sectoral industry body called the Singapore Sustainable Finance Association (SSFA). 

The association, which is the first of its kind, includes members from financial services, non-financial sector corporates, academia, non-governmental organisations and other industry bodies. 

During the launch event, Chia Der Jiun, the newly appointed managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), emphasised that the SSFA is a key platform in fostering collaboration between the financial sector and industry by leveraging the deep expertise inherent in each domain and supporting the region’s low carbon transition. 

“In setting standards, SSFA can lead in developing industry best practices in areas such as carbon credits trading and transition finance. It will have a crucial role in channelling the industry’s perspectives and standards continue to evolve,” he added. 

The SSFA will be able to improve the bankability of projects by combining financing solutions from different asset classes including risk mitigation tools, highlighted Chia. This extends beyond climate mitigation to encompass the financing of less viable projects associated with climate adaptation and biodiversity preservation. 

He elaborated further, indicating that the SSFA can play a role in supporting upskilling and capacity-building initiatives by providing guidance on the relevance of sustainable finance courses. This involves aligning training programmes offered by institutes of higher learning and other providers. 

At the same time, the SSFA can encourage the adoption of IBF’s skills certification schemes and organise capacity-building workshops in areas not readily covered by existing training providers, such as carbon markets, taxonomy application and blended finance. 

“I look forward to the SSFA playing a key role in galvanising partnerships and collective efforts to shape the future sustainable finance landscape for years to come,” Chia added. 

Focus areas 

During the launch event, the first SSFA co-chairs – Deborah Ho, BlackRock’s Head of Singapore and South-east Asia, and Wong Kee Joo, Chief Executive, HSBC Singapore – said that the association had formalised its governance structure and outlined a workplan for the upcoming year at its inaugural Executive Committee (EXCO) meeting held earlier in the day. 

They said that this includes the establishment of workstreams to focus on five key areas – carbon markets, transition finance, blended finance, natural capital and biodiversity, and taxonomy. 

SSFA members can actively participate in these workstreams, gaining access to sustainable finance events and forums. Additionally, they will be kept informed about the latest developments in government policies and initiatives at local, regional, and global levels. 

To support these initiatives, the SSFA will be backed by a dedicated secretariat team, led by its director, Kavitha Menon. 

The association will be governed by the EXCO comprising C-Suite representatives from financial institutions (banks, insurance and investment management firms), non-financial sector corporates and academia. The EXCO will also provide strategic guidance on SSFA’s mandate and initiatives. 

Gillian Tan, MAS Assistant Managing Director (Development and International) and Chief Sustainability Officer and The Association of Banks Director Ong-Ang Ai Boon will be standing members of the EXCO. 

The SSFA stated it will work towards the following four strategic objectives. These include galvanising the development of sustainable finance ecosystem and promote best sustainable finance practices in Singapore and facilitating sustainable finance collaboration between the financial and non-financial sectors to support the country’s low carbon transition and sustainable economic growth. 

It also aims to bolster Singapore as an international thought leader in sustainable finance and support the deepening of sustainable finance capabilities for the industry in Singapore. 

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