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NUS, MAS form new green finance institute, ready by end-2021

Jovi Ho
Jovi Ho9/8/2021 11:18 AM GMT+08  • 4 min read
NUS, MAS form new green finance institute, ready by end-2021
The Sustainable and Green Finance Institute (SGFIN) plans to recruit more than a dozen researchers to explore financial solutions.
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Singapore will gain a new research institute by the end of the year, one focused on green finance and sustainability in Asia.

Established by the National University of Singapore (NUS), the Sustainable and Green Finance Institute (SGFIN) is supported by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), announced the university on Sept 8.

SGFIN will provide thought leadership and shape sustainability outcomes and policymaking, and the institute is expected to be fully operational before 2021 ends.

The institute will be helmed by NUS Business School faculty members Professor Sumit Agarwal, who will be the Institute’s managing director; Associate Professor Johan Sulaeman as its director and Associate Professor Zhang Weina as its deputy director.

In collaboration with various faculties at NUS, including the NUS Business School, SGFIN hopes to develop academic modules in sustainable and green finance, along with “degree and non-degree programmes”.

In addition, SGFIN plans to recruit more than a dozen researchers to explore financial solutions to climate and social challenges worldwide.

See: ESG: Doing good, and we’ve been doing it a while

Prof Sumit Agarwal said: “We are excited to kickstart the Institute and look forward to providing thought leadership in Asia on the increasingly important issue of sustainable and green finance. The Institute will develop a robust set of policy recommendations for regulators that are grounded in rigorous research, build a sustainability and green scorecard for businesses in Asia that is transparent using modern statistical and advanced machine learning tools, and develop educational degree and non-degree programmes to help train the current and next generations of business executives and leaders.”

Impact measurement

A key focus of SGFIN is to develop a framework that measures sustainability, says NUS in a press release.

This will address the lack of consistent and standardised environmental and social data on Singapore and Asian firms and allow for more transparent measurement of companies’ environmental and social performance.

SGFIN also hopes to facilitate more efficient capital flow to business entities with a focus on social and environmental values, while offering better data analytics solutions for companies on their sustainability journey.

“The framework will seek to determine the monetary value of companies’ environmental and social performance,” says Ravi Menon, MAS’ managing director, in his keynote speech at Financial Times’ “Investing for Good Asia Digital Conference” on Sept 8.

“It aims to address the lack of consistent and standardised ESG [environmental, social and governance] data in Asia by utilising modern statistical and advanced machine learning tools to capture environmental and social data on Asian firms,” adds Menon.

See: Sustainability reporting key to mobilise global capital, accelerate climate action: CDL

See also: SGX RegCo proposes mandatory climate-related disclosures in sustainability reports, wants board diversity disclosures

Professor Chen Tsuhan, NUS deputy president (research and technology), said: “There is a global push to develop sustainable outcomes as the growing impact of environmental challenges such as climate change becomes increasingly impossible to ignore. Green finance influences sustainable outcomes and is making a significant impact on financial services worldwide.

“NUS is thus deeply honoured to partner MAS to nurture thought leaders in this field and develop scientifically backed insights through data-driven research. The Institute plays a critical part in helping Singapore move towards making green finance a defining feature of its role as an international financial centre.”

Earlier this week, MAS announced the formation of a new sustainability group and a new chief sustainability officer.

Under the baton of Dr Darian McBain, the new group will coordinate MAS’ green finance and sustainability agenda, said MAS on Sept 7.

See also: MAS sets up sustainability group, appoints chief sustainability officer

McBain joins MAS from Thai Union Group, a leading seafood supplier conglomerate, where she served as chief sustainability officer.

She will report to Ho Hern Shin, deputy managing director (financial supervision) and Leong Sing Chiong, deputy managing director (markets and development). McBain will set the agenda for MAS’ Green Finance Steering Committee, chaired by Menon.

“The formation of the Sustainability Group reflects MAS’ commitment to embed climate change and environmental sustainability across its roles as a financial regulator, as a promoter of the financial sector, and as an organisation,” said Menon.

“Green finance and climate resilience are growing areas of priority for MAS and we are pleased to have Darian join us and lead our efforts in these areas.”

Photos: Bloomberg and MAS

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