Finance & Sustainability: A Panel Discussion

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As the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon once said, “Sustainable development is a complex challenge, with urgent requirements which have resulted in enormous financing needs.”

It was with this thought in mind that some of us in the BSM Scandinavia 2015 class attended a panel discussion on 25 February 2015 regarding sustainability in relation to finance, and how a sustainable financial system has the potential to revolutionize the world. As one of the themes for our BSM is sustainability, we were keen to hear what the panelists had to share with us on the matter.

Photo-5Hosted by SMU’s Master of Tri-Sector Collaboration (MTSC), the panel was led by two of the region’s foremost experts in designing sustainability within the finance sector and its systems. Mr Simon Zadek, Co-Director of the UNEP Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System, and Mr Calvin Quek, Head of the Sustainable Finance Program at Greenpeace East Asia, joined us here at SMU alongside Professor Ann Florini, Professor of Public Policy at SMU’s School of Social Sciences and Academic Director of the MTSC, who moderated the discussion.

Both Mr Zadek and Mr Quek opined that by designing agendas for the future rather than the past, 2015 could be the year when plans for financial reforms and sustainable development finally come together to change the financial landscape of the world.

They expressed disappointment in the fact that despite the modern global economy’s abundant assets, not enough is being channeled into long-term investments targeted at sustainable development. However, to combat this, they mentioned that governments from all over the world are searching for ways to better align savings and investments with long-term innovation and infrastructure.

Photo-29According to them, this much sought-after alignment can be, in short, achieved through the developing and scaling of these four key aspects:

  1. Purpose
  2. Asset Pools
  3. Alignment Tools
  4. Pathways for Change

Going back to what UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said, considering the rising need for sustainable financial development, the finding of innovative and fresh ways to organize more efficient and effective long-term investments that will help create a sustainable financial system should be a key focus in the world of financial development.

*All photographs courtesy of SMU’s MTSC Programme Office.

– Zachary, Eldora

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