ASEAN was established in 1967 to advance regional cooperation, particularly economic, security and social.
Ong Bo Yang
Its member countries have a combined population of 650 million and GDP of more than $2.5 trillion.
Its large population, comparative advantage and geographical location have made the bloc one of the fastest growing markets globally.
The interdependent Southeast Asia region is increasingly threatened by environmental degradation and climate change, which will impose large financial costs and reduce living standards in the region.
There are many booming cities in ASEAN, with Jakarta expected to become the largest city in the world by 2030 and Manila the fourth.Megalopolises with high population density will require large amounts of energy, which will push up greenhouse gas emissions.
ASEAN cities such as Jakarta and Bangkok are particularly vulnerable to climate change, with both rapidly sinking cities regularly experiencing severe flooding.
According to U.K.Lloyd's Cities Risk Index, ASEAN countries will bear $22.5 billion GDP loss over the next decade due to the effects of flooding.By the end of the 21st century, floods will reduce ASEAN's GDP by 11%.
In developing cities, there are rural areas that lack facilities, even necessities.Governments have to build infrastructure for travel and also water, electricity, sanitation and other things.
ASEAN member states have started sustainable development projects: Indonesia is producing eco-friendly vehicles while Vietnam and Myanmar are building huge solar power plants.
Solar panels at a plant in Ninh Thuan Province in south central Vietnam, August 2019.VnExpress / Quynh Tran's photo.
Collectively, the Smart Green Cities program in collaboration with the European Union seeks to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable development in Southeast Asia.
The Asian Development Bank estimates that $210 billion will be needed for infrastructure in ASEAN by 2030, which will also help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The SDGs were established in 2015 out of an urgent need to tackle climate change and environmental degradation.
Currently, the public sector contributes 75% of the investment required for sustainable infrastructure and the private sector contributes 25%.
Clearly, NGOs and governments cannot provide all the funding needed for sustainable infrastructure projects.The Monetary Authority of Singapore estimates that 60% of required sustainable infrastructure investment must come from the private sector.
In the private sector, banks play the most important role.
However, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Sustainability Bank Assessment found that 35 ASEAN banks failed to adequately address environmental crises.
More than half of banks meet less than 25% of the ESG criteria.A meager 9% of banks have carried out a climate change risk assessment and taken measures.
Regrettably, banks are continuing to invest in unsustainable and environmentally unfriendly business ventures.
This has resulted in shareholders and their environmentalists raising concerns about lending to companies with unethical or unsustainable practices.
Because banks facilitate economic activities with capital, they can curb undesirable business activities that can be detrimental to the environment.For starters, they can limit funding to non-environmentally friendly activities and offer more favorable terms for sustainable practices.
OCBC, UOB and DBS have set an example for the banking industry by restricting lending to coal-fired power projects.
More Southeast Asian banks can embark on green and sustainable financing as there is a $3 trillion market potential for green and sustainable infrastructure investment between 2016 and 2030.
Sustainable investment is an increasing trend among banks as they invest responsibly according to ESG guidelines, contributing to social welfare.
In 2019, ASEAN inaugurated the ASEAN Center for Dialogue and Research on Sustainable Development (ACSDSD), which supports regional and international discussions and cooperation in sustainability activities to promote a complete Southeast Asia. into the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
However, the 2019 Asia and Pacific SDG Progress Report highlights the fact that current progress is insufficient to achieve the 17 SDGs by 2030.There is a need to accelerate ongoing and future sustainable development projects.
It remains to be seen whether ACSDSD is effective in supporting international cooperation in sustainability activities.However, ASEAN can use its past experience and leadership in committees such as the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management, to work well with external partners. ASEAN.
ASEAN population is expected to grow to 749 million by 2030 and GDP to $6.6 trillion.With the potential for significant population growth, it becomes even more imperative to make future-oriented and meticulous sustainable development planning to ensure that resources are sufficient to meet the needs of all people and to protect the environment. natural field.
* Ong Bo Yang is a final year student majoring in Banking and Finance at the University of London.The opinions expressed are their own.
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