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Largest Green Finance Training Event in Asia will Take Place in Hong Kong, Drawing 300 Attendees



Largest Green Finance Training Event in Asia will Take Place in Hong Kong, Drawing 300 Attendees

The largest sustainable finance event in the city focused on talent development in emerging Asian economies, will take place in Hong Kong next week, bringing together 300 finance executives and international speakers.

Strengthening Sustainability Prosperity in Asia, with a focus on Southeast, central, and East Asia, seeks to promote cooperation and knowledge sharing on the low-carbon transition in the region.

The University of Hong Kong (HKU) will host the event on Monday and Tuesday. It will feature seminars and discussions on sustainable finance policies, sustainability disclosures, the low-carbon transition, and financing of biodiversity and ocean conservation.

“Hong Kong, an international finance center, is also a knowledge hub,” said Ma Jun, chairman of co-host Capacity-building Alliance for Sustainable Investment (CASI). “The CASI event will bring together over 30 speakers with sustainable finance knowledge” from Hong Kong, mainland China, Europe, North America, Australia, and east, south and central Asia.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office, HKU, and the Beijing think tank Institute of Finance and Sustainability (IFS) are the other co-hosts.

Ma is the president of the Hong Kong Green Finance Association and the IFS. He was previously an economist with the World Bank, Deutsche Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

CASI is an international platform for cooperation that was introduced at the December COP28 global climate summit to provide sustainable finance training and knowledge sharing in developing nations. In the last five years, 30 green finance training sessions have been held by its predecessor, the IFS-hosted Green Finance Leadership Program.

Financial firms, non-governmental organizations, and universities from every continent make up the 58 member institutions of CASI.

The IFS, the HKMA, the Silk Road Fund, which is supported by Beijing, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the CFA Institute, HSBC, Neuberger Berman, and Standard Chartered Bank are among the founding members.

Following the Hong Kong conclave, CASI intends to hold similar events in the Middle East and Central Asia in the second half of 2024 and Africa and Southeast Asia the following year. The organization hosted its first in-person event in Brazil in April, according to Ma. It plans to provide in-person and online training for up to 100,000 professionals in sustainable finance by 2030.

Following the Hong Kong event, about 130 participants will go on a two-day field trip to Huzhou, which is a hub for green finance pilot projects in China’s eastern Zhejiang province.

“Huzhou is the best-performing among China’s first batch of eight cities where green finance pilots were launched in 2017,” Ma said. “Participants will visit local banks to learn how their sustainability rating system works, and see the local government’s platform for matching green projects to finance providers.”

Compared to the national average of 12% and the 2% in some emerging markets, green loans in Huzhou have grown at an average annual rate of 40% since 2017 and now account for nearly a third of all loans disbursed in the city, according to Ma.

If small and medium-sized businesses meet a specific sustainability rating, the local government may offer loan interest subsidies.

One of the speakers at the CASI event, Charles Nguyen, head of Asia ESG investing at fund manager Neuberger Berman, stated that one of the main issues facing many Asian and emerging markets is talent training.

“As the ESG [environment, social and governance] investing landscape becomes more complex, it requires finance professionals to have greater technical knowledge of climate mitigation and adaptation solutions, for example.”

He mentioned that inadequate quantitative disclosures of ESG data and a comparatively light penalty for greenhouse gas emissions are two other prevalent issues.

Companies in emissions-intensive sectors will probably see rising costs as major Asian financial markets adopt international sustainability disclosure standards over the coming years, Nguyen predicted. Governments will also likely raise carbon taxes and expand emission permit-trading regimes to meet climate targets.

Companies will come under more scrutiny for the strength and legitimacy of their climate-transition plans, including the degree of ambition, short- and medium-term targets, strategies, and capital allocation, he continued, given the growing regulatory and investor focus on climate-related risks and opportunities.

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