As countries and governments around the world are beginning to voice the dangers of climate change, drawing numerous laws and policies and launching programmes to mitigate risks, Singapore seems to be taking the lead.
Accounting for just 0.11% of the world’s carbon emissions, Singapore is one of the few countries in the world, and the only country in Asia to have introduced a broad-based carbon tax to put a price on emissions. Their Zero Waste Masterplan is all set to transform Singapore into an economy that reuses resources in a continuous loop. They have already successfully built greenery into their cityscape - a natural reserve in the middle of the city and created wetlands and mangrove swamps to absorb floodwater and cushion storm surges. All of which speaks highly of Singapore when it comes to championing environmental sustainability.
With a vision to catalyse further change and inspire others to join the fight against climate change, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced the launch of a US$2 billion green investments programme (GIP) to invest in public market investment strategies that have a strong green focus. With this move, the government aims to help the Singapore financial centre in promoting environmentally sustainable projects. The GIP is a major prong of the green finance action plan announced by Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education, Singapore, and Board Member, MAS, on November 11 at the Day 1 of SFF x SWITCH, a one-of-a-kind collaboration between Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF) and the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH).
The US$2 billion green investment is expected to foster the growth of a strong and diverse ecosystem of green financing capabilities in Singapore. MAS’ first investment under the GIP will be a US$100m placement in the Bank for International Settlements (BIS)’ Green Bond Investment Pool (GBIP). Together with other participating central banks, this initiative could help catalyse further deepening of the green bond market.
In his keynote address, Minister Ong said, “We have come a long way since we began our FinTech journey in 2015. Singapore is widely recognised as one of the leading FinTech hubs in the world. And, in this journey, we have remained true to our vision to harness the power of technology and innovation to increase efficiency, manage risks better, create new opportunities, and improve people’s lives. Our next ambition is to leverage green finance, to make the world greener.”
Answering the question on what it means to make finance green, he replied, “It means what the Paris Agreement says - ‘making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.’ In other words, it means to mobilise global capital for the green economy, channel them to new investments in green businesses, technology, and infrastructure, and reduce carbon emissions, while creating jobs and opportunities. It means a virtuous cycle that can bring about economic growth that is environmentally sustainable.”
In his keynote address, the Minister for Education expressed that it is inconceivable to tackle climate change and bring about a sustainable world by telling the developing world to give up their dreams of economic development. “For many developing countries in Asia and other regions, they are still urbanising, populations are still aspiring to catch up from lower to middle-income living standards, and energy demand is still rising. The solution cannot be to curtail their growth and dampen their hopes,” he said.
He reiterated Singapore’s commitment to mitigate climate change and stated that as a leading international financial centre, Singapore would do the right thing to help reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable development in Asia and globally. “We must dare to believe that we can bring about the growth that is sustainable. It is not a pipe dream. With technological advances, and widespread deployment of technology and green finance, we have a good shot at achieving it,” he concluded.
YourStory is the supporting media partner of SFF X SWITCH.