Policy makers, corporate leaders at ESG symposium to drive Malaysia's sustainability agenda

KUALA LUMPUR: Members of Parliament, policymakers, bankers and corporate leaders recently convened at the "GO ESG 2023: Sustainable Finance Symposium" to discuss the potential of finance and collaboration to propel sustainability forward and foster a more resilient and inclusive Malaysia.

The half-day symposium explored the challenges and opportunities in the intersection of finance and sustainability and encouraged continuous commitment to prioritising sustainability in financial decision making and driving collective progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The event, co-organised by UN Global Compact Network Malaysia & Brunei (UNGCMYB) and Parliament of Malaysia, also examined the wider repercussions of financial decisions, to ensure the interests and well-being of all stakeholders are considered.

Tan Sri Johari Abdul, the Dewan Rakyat speaker, reflected on the current state of commitment and action towards sustainable development and green financing initiatives by policymakers.

While acknowledging positive strides made in ensuring an inclusive transition to a more sustainable future, he underscored that commitment alone is insufficient and called for tangible action and collaboration across all sectors.

"While the clock ticks to merely six years left, the pursuit of the SDGs by the 2030 deadline is significantly off course. Thus, we must make sure that 2024 will be a year where we implement coordinated endeavours to realign the SDGs.

"There are no two ways about it, this can only happen when ambitious national commitments are materialised and interventions geared toward reducing poverty and inequality by 2027 and 2030."

He stressed that all stakeholders must work together to draw up explicit policies, investment strategies, and partnerships to propel progress in the significant transitions outlined by the SDGs.

UNGCMYB executive director Faroze Nadar said even as the world grappled with multifaceted challenges such as the climate crisis, geopolitical conflicts and inflationary pressures, there existed significant opportunities for sustainable finance and collective action.

"These global challenges create a unique environment for positive change. Sustainable finance is poised to be a needed catalyst for collective action, providing a framework for addressing these challenges while simultaneously creating opportunities for investment in projects that promote environmental sustainability and social well-being.

"The combined potential of finance and collaborations in Malaysia's context involves aligning financial decisions with sustainability goals, fostering partnerships, engaging communities, leveraging technology, and ensuring that regulatory frameworks promote responsible inclusive practices," he added.

The symposium brought together 16 speakers and 400 participants from government ministries and agencies as well as C-suite and senior leaders from the private sector.

It featured two panels to discuss the crucial role of multi-stakeholder collaboration to bridge finance, SDGs and growth as well as inclusive financing to empower all for a sustainable tomorrow.

The panels were preceded by a 30-minute Fireside Chat by Finance Ministry secretariat of the special advisory body co-chairperson Nurul Izzah Anwar.

Separately, UNGCMYB and Alliance Bank Malaysia Bhd signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to expand their partnership for the next three years.

The MoU is to assist small and medium enterprises (SMEs) nationwide with their ESG transition by offering a combination of capacity building workshops, enhanced tools, and financing support.

Under the partnership, the bank will extend RM2 billion through the Sustainability Development and Climate Inclusive Programme to be delivered via series of nationwide roadshows in 2024. 

Both parties have collaborated closely over the past two years.

Partners of the event were Alliance Bank, Bank Pembangunan Malaysia Bhd, Bursa Malaysia Bhd, Capital Markets Malaysia, Kenanga Investment Bank Bhd, Menteri Besar Selangor Incorporated and Sarawak Energy Bhd

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