In order to redefine Asia’s economic growth and sustainable development models, the finance industry must play a “formative role”, according to the Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia (ASrIA).
Jessica Robinson, chief executive of ASrIA, said, “We know that the challenges we face in Asia are huge – but the simple yet worrying fact is that sustainability issues in finance are not front-of-mind and this urgently needs to change.”
As with many emerging areas, Asia is struggling to maintain its fast pace of economic growth and improving prosperity for its population, whilst balancing the needs of the planet. Responsible investment can help the region achieve sustainable growth by supporting a variety of projects, such as renewables and infrastructures, and aiding job creation.
Robinson adds, “We are witnessing rapid changes in the economic, political and social agenda in Asia. Much of this change is driven by an increasing awareness of the risk of climate change, resource constraints and environmental degradation.
“A much better understanding of Asia’s natural capital is needed and our economic growth and sustainable development models must evolve to reflect this.”
The organisation argues that in light of the changing dynamics in the markets, sustainable private capital will needs to “play a leading role in financing the transition to a low carbon, resource efficient and equitable future”.
It added that, in order to achieve this future financial institutions, industry, policymakers, regulators and non-governmental organisations will need to collaborate and think innovatively about how to leverage the resources of the capital markets. As a result, ASrIA is shifting its focus to facilitate this.
The latest figures from ASrIA found that during 2012, around $74 billion (£43.8bn) was invested sustainably across the continent, with over 130 investment managers adopting sustainable investment approaches. The growth was linked to investors seeking to capitalise on emerging markets.
Robinson concludes, “Our primary focus must be on solving Asia’s greatest developmental challenge – how to foster economic growth and poverty alleviation, while managing the environmental consequences that could accompany them.”
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